I was thinking a lot about my next post… how can I share all the information I have learned in the last two weeks. Challenging task as I don’t want to share neither too much nor too little.

In the last two weeks we went through the scientific foundations of both the ecological and social sustainability.

We started from the basics….what is science? â€¦sounds simple but it was so important to create a common understanding for the basic terms and concepts….and science in its broadest sense is a common language, the only one understood and accepted across cultures and national borders.

I am tempted to go into details but I will try to give you the essence and some reflections…internet can provide the rest:-)

Scientific foundation of ecological sustainability

What I realised is that we have so much knowledge and so little understanding.

The goal of this lectures was to create understanding, so we were given enough information to understand what kind of system is our planet, how it evolved, how it functions and what are the key ecological processes making it possible for us to be here.

We looked at how unpredictable the behaviour of a complex system (such as our planet) is and how interconnected all processes are. 

Once having the basic scientific knowledge and the idea of system thinking, so many things became obvious…soooooo obvious.

One of them popped up when I was reading about the history of the Earth and evolution of life…Some billion years ago the life on Earth was not possible due to the large concentration of toxic heavy metals in the biosphere. It took millions of years to trap those heavy metals in sediments and fossil deposits in the lithosphere. This was one of the preconditions for life to evolve. …so WHY *** **** are we digging them out?…Why so much and so fast?… more than 80% of our “modern" world is based on fossil fuels...  

Deeper we got into the facts, more depressive our mood became….hhhhm 

I came here to make the world a better place but know I realise that in the near future the nature might not support our unnatural habits…might not support us... Will our technology offer a solution on time?…isn’t it quite risky to rely on it? So being sustainable NOW sounds like the best option we have…and the good thing is that there is a lot happening in this direction. :-) 

Scientific foundation of social sustainability

This is an area much less analysed…who are we, what are our human needs and how to create a space where those needs can be satisfied? Currently there is an academic research going on in my university and it was extremely interesting to hear more about the findings. 

In order to keep it shorter I would recommend you to see the following short video.

If you want to learn more I can highly recommend the following book "Human Scale Development" (Max Neef)

The book make a very clear distinction between needs and satisfiers and here is a quote from the book I would like to share... 

 "While a satisfier is in an ultimate sense the way in which a need is expressed, goods are in a strict sense the means by which individuals will empower the satisfiers to meet their needs. When, however, the form of production and consumption of goods makes goods an end in themselves, then the alleged satisfaction of a need impairs its capacity to create potential. This, in turn, leads to an alienated society engaged in a senseless productivity race. Life, then, is placed at the service of artifacts, rather than artifacts at the service of life. The question of the quality of life is overshadowed by our obsession to increase productivity."

I find it great to differentiate between needs and satisfiers…to ask myself the question are all my needs satisfied and how I am currently satisfying them?   

Ok I will stop here before it is too much:-) 

If you want to learn more about ecological and social sustainability, I can highly recommend those series of short videos…they give a good idea of what I am studying here. (watch the videos in chronological order)