Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Sustainability Challenge - II

Here is a quick follow-up on some of the ideas discussed in the last post.

Global Warming:

It took us a while to accept that global warming was a reality. It is taking some of us even longer to accept our role in it. While it is true that the earth has been warming up since the end of the last ice age, it seems pretty certain at this point that we have indeed accelerated the process. Then again, the weather patterns on earth since the beginning of human civilization are certainly not indicative of long-term patterns - for example the world was largely covered in ice just 10,000 years ago. But we could take our responsibility for this acceleration seriously and try and mitigate effects for the short-term. Severe political problems prevent a united and effective global front against reduction of global warming pollutants today - so the solution just might lie in altering weather patterns in our favor as a temporary move. Here is one of the more cost-effective ideas.

Ecological footprint:

Apparently the glitz of a rising nation like the UAE already gives them the biggest ecological footprint in the world. On towards reducing it now.

As I have mentioned before it sure looks like the future of humanity lies in the city - our biggest and most impacting invention. Sarah Rich has this excellent post over at WorldChanging on self-sufficient cities. The bulk of the ideas relate to cities growing their own food. This has several inherent advantages: more greenery within the city leads to a cleaner and more pleasant environment. Plus the absence of far-flung supply chains leading into the city further reduce costs - both financial and environmental.

Another form of self-contained city-building might be in the ocean real estate development that is just catching on. Of course the initial efforts are to just build ultra-exotic and luxurious hotels, but consider this: if you can build a human habitat under the sea, you can just as surely build it anywhere else on earth, or even in space. And since we live at a time when environmental concerns are so high, it is likely that any under sea developers will face strong scrutiny to ensure that they don't pollute their surroundings in any manner. Of course the actual pollution would most likely get transferred elsewhere, but would still be a good start as the sources of pollution get more isolated.