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Sustainability, Cause It’s Better than All Else

Sustainability, Cause It’s Better than All Else Especially when it’s brimming with circularity

The Brundtland report – Our Common Future (1987) – represents the catechism of durable/sustainable development, defined as that type of “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainability puts two disciplines/social sciences to work, in a deliberate debauchery: economics (preoccupied with the efficient satisfaction of subjectively arranged individual needs, with the social stock of available scarce and, thus, precious resources) and ethics (preoccupied, amongst other things, with the moral validation of the exercise of violence/coercion, knowing that the scarcity of resources generates conflicts in a society). Therefore, economic sustainability is based on the ethical axiom according to which it is the responsibility of each and every generation to “preserve”/”conserve” an amount of “capital” goods deemed necessary in up-keeping a “level of income” sufficient enough for the future ones.

The terms above that were put in quotation marks hide, despite the apparent common sense behind them, an appetite for flawed descriptions and wrong prescriptions: thus, capital is perceived in bulk, with the whole processes of accumulation and maintenance, which require time, entrepreneurial spirit and monetary calculation, going ignored; regarding the preservation/conservation, it references, almost invariably, public policies of tax-spend-regulate, supposedly to facilitate capitalisation, even though statist interventionism is discretionary, demotivating and disturbing; as for the level of income, it is being suggested that future benefits could be imputed and provided, within a techno/bureaucratic fashion, by the central planners, starting from the stock of natural capital, independently of the market. Such a doubtful attitude towards “canonical” sustainability does not mean that the idea per se is non-feasible, but only that, in the wrong hands, sustainability may become unsustainable (sic!).

Circularity, as opposed to linearity (the linearity of depleting and eroding resources) seems to be the most fanatical form of sustainability, although, even here, the concept should not inherit the sins of those who oversell it in/with its “politicised” meaning. Circularity has fine pedigree. Somehow, the inanimate nature offers us good inspiration for circularity: physics, responsible with the study of “things”, under the sign of change/movement, and chemistry, analysing the structure/matter from which they are made, mark the constancy of the universal stock of matter-energy and their various conversion and capturing patterns with which we could toy forever, with only their technological yield needing to be tinkered, while the biological is, per se, regenerative. “Human nature” need only internalise such pre-settings, and, to a large extent, it does, man being the only species with the conscience/knowledge of life’s finitude, as well as recipes to “prolong the lives” of the resources that are rare, critical, vital.

What’s more, human beings seek to extend the life of resources even beyond the horizon of their own existence, due to a feeling (or a mix of feelings) of instinctual loyalty to his immediate offspring, of empathic loyalty to his species or of transcendental loyalty to the Divinity Who offered him the gift of creation which must be left in somewhat proper condition in order to hope for Salvation/Redemption. Or, putting it differently, the paradigm of linearity will have been specific to that period of human existence when there was still plenty to explore and exploit “first-hand”, which culminated with the era of geographical discoveries (which completed the mapping of the world’s riches), prolonged by the one of technological inventiveness (which expanded the possibilities to value them). Presently, the new paradigm of the circular economy proposes a representation of an Earth whose exploration seems overly expired and whose potential for exploitation looks exhausted. Thus…

A new kind of conquest appears to be necessary: the type in which the same unity of matter receives several chances to satisfy various needs. The resources of our planet seem to shortly become more and more difficult and costly to access: either we talk about the costs related with taking said resources out of their natural state (which are not only the ones strictly associated with their extraction, but also those of compensating for the different negative environmental externalities which such a process entails), or about the costs of the politico-military raptures, less fortunate versions of restocking (which are not only the ones associated with military operations, but also those associated with the compensation for the various negative societal externalities, in fact pure tragedies). The solution: as many resource reduction-reusing-recycling loops as possible, entrepreneurially. In the name of peace and profit. 

Photo source: PxHere



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