We have known for decades about global warming, and the effects of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, but not enough is being done to create a more sustainable society worldwide. In 1973, the Green Party of England and Wales released the first Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, and since that time society at large has been aware of issues facing the environment that need to change.
The problem is, there are still climate change deniers, and others who are unwilling to change their lifestyles to create a more sustainable society. We need to be willing to make the changes necessary to create a more sustainable world, so that the Earth can continue to support human life and biodiversity long into the future.
Climate change is probably the most catastrophic problem facing our world today. According to the New York Times:
Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade, and nations will need to make an immediate and drastic shift away from fossil fuels to prevent the planet from overheating dangerously beyond that level, according to a major new report released on Monday.
The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, offers the most comprehensive understanding to date of ways in which the planet is changing. It says that global average temperatures are estimated to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels sometime around “the first half of the 2030s,” as humans continue to burn coal, oil and natural gas.
That number holds a special significance in global climate politics: Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, virtually every nation agreed to “pursue efforts” to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that point, scientists say, the impacts of catastrophic heat waves, flooding, drought, crop failures and species extinction become significantly harder for humanity to handle.
We have 10 years to make a drastic change in the way that we are using fossil fuels and other pollutants, or our Earth's environment is going to change drastically. That means, it is up to our generation to take action on climate change, or it may be too late to do so.
There has been action taken in the past, but it hasn't been significant enough to bring carbon emissions to a level that is safe for the environment. Countries like the US and China need to get on board with resolutions that have been issued to reduce carbon emissions. If that doesn't happen, then our world is in for drastic climate shifts that could cause catastrophic consequences.
What is a sustainable society?
For a society to be sustainable, that means, the needs of the environment and the people need to be met in a way that can be maintained indefinitely into the future.
According to the Encyclopedia of World Problems & Human Potential:
Envision societies in which the air and water are clean, where every woman, man and child has access to food, adequate shelter, health care and education, and no one is afraid to walk alone at night. Such societies are made up of communities where human needs are met in balance with the carrying capacity of the bioregion. Imagine communities that recognize and value education and health as among the most important capital investments, and the dissemination and expansion of knowledge as a more practical means of wealth-creation than the ownership and exploitation of scarce natural resources. As the extreme gap of wealth and poverty narrow, resentment and violence decline, as mututal dignity and economic security increase. Because everyone has adequate and affordable housing, children have a greater opportunity to grow up in a safe, warm and healthy environment. Secure homes with food on the table mean less chance of illness and distress and more chance for stable relationships generating dignity and self-worth. The people in these communities tend to satisfy their psychological and social needs more through improving the quality of time with their friends, families and neighbours. People are more involved in their communities and have time to explore their creative possibilities. The economy produces more of what people really need in their local communities; waste has become a productive resource. Poverty is commonly believed to be an extreme which society cannot afford.
A sustainable society is a society in which everyone's needs are met, and we manage our ecology to be in tune with the Earth. This would be a world in which all people are able to thrive, with all of their needs met, which could last far into the future. This is the type of society that we need to create to provide a better future to the generations of humanity to come.
Creating this type of society isn't just a pipe dream of a few scientists and dreamers, it is a real necessity, as temperatures across the world begin to rise, fossil fuels are depleted, and we see the ramifications of a lack of social justice worldwide. We need to create a better society so that humanity can have a future in this world.
It might sound fantastic, but this future may not be as far off as it seems. We are on our way towards creating a sustainable society, because people are currently creating sustainable cities all over the world.
According to Digi,
A sustainable city is an urban center engineered to improve its environmental impact through urban planning and management. For an eco city definition, picture cities with parks and green spaces, solar-powered buildings, rooftop gardens and more pedestrians and cyclists than cars. This is not a futuristic dream. Smart cities are actively moving toward greener urban ecosystems and better environmental stewardship.
Urban planners the world over are working towards creating cities that support residents while also helping to reduce the carbon footprint on the environment.
Here are 6 traits of sustainable cities that Digi provides:
Make it easy to get around without a car
Add EV charging stations
Provide access to public resources and green spaces
Improve water conservation and wastewater management
Support urban farming
Implement green architecture
When cities can do these things effectively, then they can create an urban landscape that is capable of supporting a large population in an effective way, with as little negative impact towards the environment as possible. These cities use both technology and space in innovative ways, to better support this new type of urban landscape.
Some of the benefits of building sustainable cities, according to Paysalia, include:
Reduction of population stress
…and darker nights!
Teaching urban biodiversity
Increase in the value of real estate
Better run-off water management
Favoring locally-grown food
Encouraging light transport and mobility
Extending space without building on natural grounds
Residents in these green cities can feel proud of where they live, and experience the many benefits of living in a sustainable city. Knowing that you live somewhere that is trying to create the best living space possible can make a huge difference as well.
Here are some of the most sustainable cities in the world, according to Earth:
1. Wellington, New Zealand
2. Zurich, Switzerland
3. Copenhagen, Denmark
4. Madrid, Spain
5. Canberra, Australia
Other cities are aiming towards sustainability as well, many with the goal of having zero carbon emissions including New York, Dubai and San Francisco, to name a few. As our cities worldwide become more sustainable, we can create a lifestyle where humans and nature can live in harmony, and create a better future for our planet.
Creating a Sustainable Society
In order to create a more sustainable society worldwide, we need to be intentional with the way that we live. Things like the American "suburban sprawl" where there are tracts of houses that are in some cases miles away from businesses aren't a sustainable way of living.
To create a more sustainable society overall, we can mirror what the sustainable cities are doing, and begin to replicate what works worldwide. This will allow us to have a better way of living, both now and in the future. It will allow us to pass on a better world to future generations.
Here are some practical steps towards a sustainable society, according to Sustainability Degrees:
Raise public awareness
Increase government and business investment
Conserve resources and eliminate waste
In order to create a better, more sustainable, future for ourselves and the planet we need to take a closer look at the way our society is organized currently, and how things could be done better. Sustainability needs to be at the forefront of our minds, so that we are making the best decisions on a global level.
All of this can start at home. You can do simple things like reducing the amount of packaged goods you consume, teaching your children to turn off lights, and taking public transit instead of driving a car when possible. The more we all do our part towards creating sustainability, the more we ensure that the world will be a beautiful place for generations to come!
Clean air and clean water are vitally important to our survival, and we need to make sure that these resources are available far into the future!
In addition to taking action to reduce your energy usage at home, you can also contact your government representatives and ask them to make climate change a priority! The more voices speak up about these issues, the more it will force governments to take a stand on climate change.
If you are in the US, you can use this simple form from Citizens' Climate Lobby to contact your representative today!