Now at unprecedented levels, human development is impacting on the planet’s natural mechanisms; every year that passes atmospheric CO2 rises by 2 ppm, 30 000 species go extinct, and we continue to pollute the land and sea – driven by our economic system that is stripping the planet bare in pursuit of unending growth. How long can we bury our heads in the sand? The Rio +20 conference in July 2012 was the moment to address these issues but lack of global commitment meant it ultimately failed. But individuals can make a difference; the4Cs aims to educate to do just that.
Whether in a developed country, or developing one, humanity must strive to live in ways that create minimal impact on the environment and ecosystem. From large scale green initiatives to individual actions, we can all make a difference in how we use the natural resources around us so that future generations can also enjoy the wonderful world we share.
Knowledge is key so that people can make informed choices, where people both understand and have genuine concern about the many issues involved. For viable choices to exist it is essential that suitable technology is developed, again on both large scale and small scale.
Too often, especially historically, nature has been seen as something to be tamed and controlled, and the many benefits we gain from the natural world for free have not been appreciated – or valued. Without bees for example, the cost to pollinate crops would be immense; without microbes recycling waste matter we would be overwhelmed by filth.
Life on Earth is a complex web of interacting biological and geological forces, balanced through billions of years of small changes and feedbacks. The Earth behaves as one living entity and manages to maintain an unstable state through countless tiny interactions that keep the equalibrium. Most small changes will be compensated for but sometimes a seemingly minor change – a single extinction for example – can ripple through the network and cause catastrophic collapse. Humans are causing around 30 000 extinctions per year. This is Russian Roulette on a Global scale.
But we have positioned ourselves within a very dangerous trap. Our basis of our economic system and the very definition of money itself mean that for the system to remain stable it must see continual growth. On a finite planet (we only have one) and with a global economy this is a mathematical impossibility. In pursuit of this madness we will need to strip the Earth of its natural resources. What is particularly dangerous is that any attempt to live more simply will instead hasten the economic collapse.
1. To promote sustainable development for the benefit of the public by:
A) the preservation, conservation and the protection of the environment and the prudent use of resources;
B) the relief of poverty and the improvement of the conditions of life in socially and economically disadvantaged communities;
C) the promotion of sustainable means of achieving economic growth and regeneration.
2. To advance the education of the public in subjects relating to sustainable development and the protection, enhancement and rehabilitation of the environment and to promote study and research in such subjects provided that the useful results of such study are disseminated to the public at large.
However, as serious as this is, perhaps the greatest blight on our planet is the tolerance of such a degree of human suffering. With one part of the world living in luxury - better than how kings used to live and totally unsustainable - there are about one billion people living in extreme poverty without even their basic food and water needs met. For as long as this travesty exists, and for as long as we lack the compulsion to rid our planet of such suffering, it is hard to see how the general public will be conscientious enough to care about protecting the environment for the benefit of as yet unborn generations. We need more than short-lived impulsive initiatives on single topics, we all need a fundamental change in attitude and recognize that we are one species living in harmony with all other life forms on one small planet.
The4Cs’ Sustainability section's biogas project and Ethiopian poverty alleviation project will tackle these issues and will work in tandem with the UK-based Grow Your Own and Workshop programmes.
One of the aims of The4Cs is to utilise appropriate technology to improve and enhance livelihoods, whether in the UK or in the developing world. Appropriate technology is common sense technology, or technology with a human face. Ideally, this is technology that is easily made, or more crucially easy to maintain, but nevertheless can be taking advantage of the latest scientific ideas as well as tried and tested older technology. The anaerobic biogas digester is one such technology.