Prince Charles: Dharavi slum is a model for sustainable living

Discuss

67 Responses to “Prince Charles: Dharavi slum is a model for sustainable living”

  1. jetfx says:

    @ Noen

    I’m not arguing that slums are sustainable. I’m actually kind of off topic.

    Sustainability is a technology (by which I mean tools and methods), that allows a society to make good use of its resources without undermining the ability of future societies to do the same. No human society, whether nomadic, agricultural or industrial is inherently sustainable. Just like the cave men, we also take our survival needs directly from the environment. Plenty of H/G societies have disappeared because they did not manage their resources in a sustainable manner.

    Sustainability is about how we view or relationship with our environment, and no particular form of social organization has a monopoly on such values. Any society that understands and works with the complex interdependence between humans and nature can be a sustainable one.

    I’m not saying we can innovate our way out of every crisis. Many societies failed to do so, but we’re still here because some societies adapted and survived. While we face very large problems, they are not insurmountable as long as we are willing to adapt, and we know so much more than previous societies that faced similar climate problems. Some credit must be given to human resiliency. We’ve gotten this far haven’t we?

    “When civilizations fall they take everyth9ing with them. I don’t know, maybe that’ll be a good thing. Mankind could use a little humility.”

    That is an incredibly arrogant thing to say. Can you really make the judgment that a catastrophic collapse with all the death and suffering it entails may be a good thing because it might teach some people the value of “humility”.

  2. assumetehposition says:

    Just goes to show nobody really has any clue what “sustainable” means.

  3. jetfx says:

    @ Noen “Both coal and oil are pretty much gone by the end of this century.”

    Just a quibble. There is enough proven coal reserves to last at least 150 years. That is coal deposits that are economically feasible to recover. It is suspected that there is far more coal that has not been discovered or is not economically feasible to extract at current technology.

    While burning coal is not at all ideal, if the oil runs out, civilization is not simply going to collapse from a lack of an energy source, assuming we don’t bother to find non-fossil fuel energy source.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal#World_coal_reserves

  4. IamInnocent says:

    Sometimes, Tak, I feel like I’m Jeff and you’re Lassie, trying to tell me something I don’t quite get right away: did you mean that we are wired to agree with the group if the right buttons are pressed or did you rather wanted to point out that we have to agree to disagree, to oppose this natural propensity, if this world is going to have a chance?

  5. Rindan says:

    When you can get all your survival needs for food, clothing and shelter directly from the environment, that’s sustainable in my mind. Getting your food, shelter and clothing from a pool of oil as we do now, well that only lasts as long as the oil does. Both coal and oil are pretty much gone by the end of this century.

    I imagine we do the same thing we did when we ran out of whale oil… the same thing we did when we ran out of water power (we used to stop rivers cold with water wheels)… the same thing humans always do when they deplete a resource… the same thing we do when a hunter gathered tribe wipes out an species… find something else. That big frigging ball of fusion in the sky is probably not a bad start. The molten liquid core that our little contents float around on is not another bad source to consider. Given a few decades we might even get a nice little fusion reaction going longer than a few seconds. The universe has vastly more energy than humans can even contemplate to know what to do with. We just need to find better ways to snag a little off the edges.

    Personally, I find the “we will just go back to hunting and gathering!” arguments wonderfully absurd. I don’t know about you guys, but if everything collapsed and billions ended up dead, the last thing on my mind would be to go running around the forest trying to eat squirrels citing my love for sustainability. I would be out planting things because humans that run around the forest looking for food are the type of humans that get killed by humans growing food. We are not going to unlearn agriculture. No human is going to let themselves starve to death when they know they can make food. Even if we hit the magic reset button and wipe out the vast majority of humans you can be damned sure that the first thing the survivors would do would be to start planting crops. You can be sure that in the long run agrarian cultures will either wipe out or assimilate hunter and gatherer cultures.

    Humans are a technological species. “Sustainable” to a human is technology. Occasionally we do have population crashes (like any animal), and when you use technology you can have spectacular population crashes. Maybe the fate of the human race is to reach a few tens of billion and crash in a never ending cycle (anyone read the Mote in God’s Eye?). I personally doubt it though. There is way the hell to much matter in the universe, far too much energy, and humans are too tenacious.

    I am all for sustainability, preservation of the environment, and trying to lower our impact on this world. That said, I don’t for a moment believe that there is any real natural limit to human expansion so long as carbon is plentiful and stars burn fusion reactions for billions of years. There is more than enough matter and energy to make and sustain trillions of humans in complete comfort. The only trick is converting that stuff and energy into something useful.

  6. mdh says:

    Funny, when I interact with tak I feel like Picard and Dathnoin at Eladril.

  7. Moriarty says:

    I agree 100% with #24 and #26. Well said. And I’ll say further that this anti-technological radicalism (Hunter gathering? Seriously?) is ironically probably the biggest threat to true sustainable civilization, by undermining environmentalism as a whole with ridiculous claims and *directly* counterproductive ideas. Innovation is the answer, not the enemy.

  8. IamInnocent says:

    Odd, I always feel like I’m DeLenn and he’s G’kar.

    Did he leave his prosthetic eye on your night table too?

  9. Takuan says:

    YARF! YOW!WOW!WOW! YARF(timmie’s in the fucking well!)YARFYARFYARF!!!

  10. IamInnocent says:

    What? Timmy is fucking well?
    That bastard! Je lui réserve un chien de ma chienne.

    Good night kidz.

  11. Takuan says:

    He aha te mea nui o te ao?
    He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

  12. mdh says:

    Not Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

    That is how I felt when I first got here.

  13. Keeper of the Lantern says:

    Ole Prince Chuckles can actually make some sense every now and then. Of course, it’s easy (and in most cases probably accurate) to accuse him of a sort of regal classism, subtley looking down his nose at the noble savages, who don’t deserve much better than they have.

    But on some levels he may be right, or at least not far off. We’re at 6 billion people, and during most of our lifetimes we’ll probably hit 9 or 10 billion. Meanwhile, the earth can’t afford much more growth.

    The conclusions are obvious: The future is urban, low carbon, recycled materials and lots of digital technology. Not much different from a William Gibson book if you ask me.

    On the other hand, I was in Chongqing China last year, a city-state that now houses something like 34 million people. Many of them have a standard of living that I would say is higher than even the functional slums of India, so maybe the future is also totalitarian as well.

  14. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Einstein cheated on his wife, and yet we don’t let that devalue his theory of relativity. The circumstances of the PoW’s birth don’t devalue his contributions. He also, BTW, runs a large working farm where he experiments with sustainable, organic farming techniques, something that he’s been doing for decades. His Prince’s Trust has lifted thousands out of poverty and ignorance. Arguing that his ideas are valueless because he’s a prince is vacuous.

    Traveling in the Third World, one sees that our measure of poverty is really one-sided. Villagers in the Himalayas, who may have quite good lives, rate as poorer than people packed into slums in Cairo, whose lives are much worse. You can’t cure poverty by dropping money on people. A community like Dharavi, that has a stable and supportive social structure, provides a framework in which its inhabitants can improve their lives. Saying that we should just fight the poverty is like saying that we should just become immortal. Okay, you first.

  15. dimmer says:

    Sorry Antinous, but back when I was living in the UK I had to hear far too much of this guys nonsense — “We shouldn’t have modern architecture!”, “Modern art is rubbish!” — on a day to day basis. Yes, he has done a few “good” things, but given his potential his hit rate is pretty low.

    It’s not about dismissing him for being a Prince, it’s about dismissing him for ideas that, as the UK Architectural Board put it, are “So archaic we’ve even forgotten the arguments against them.”

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      In partial defense of Charles’ architectural hissy fit, it did take place when Post-Modernism was in full bloom and public buildings were going up that looked like circus rides.

      As to the Prince’s Trust, from Wikipedia: “In 2007/8, 89,300 young people were supported by the Business Programme – 2,402 new businesses were set up and ongoing volunteer business mentor support was provided for 6,913 young people.”

  16. dimmer says:

    “Modern planners have had an attack of the stupid. I don’t know if this slum is doing anything original, but simply reverting to something old fashioned and sane is a big step up.”

    Actually, it’s a step back: to what we are familiar with, to what gives us a feeling of comfort while ignoring that thought, design, materials have evolved. It’s perfectly fine to prefer trad over modern: but that’s a personal, opinionated point of view that doesn’t have any value over that PoV. What we do tomorrow is always more important than what we did yesterday.

    (Which is, of course, my own biased opinion…)

  17. IamInnocent says:

    Arguing that his ideas are valueless because he’s a prince is vacuous.

    Antinous, I don’t think that anyone is saying that he is an ass because of his title. This is a strange interpretation of what has been said.

    For myself I say that he is a long time proven ass which happens to be royalty. Weren’t he not born a Windsor he would only be an unknown ass.

    Rich people toying with hand picked to be innocuously (to their status and position in the world) progressive ideas, may have some value for you. It has none or close to none for people who actually have to deal with the problem and even less live through it.

  18. kaiza says:

    This is actually really interesting. There are a veritable plethora of projects aimed at creating low-cost housing and shelter for the homeless, for emergency usage in disaster zones, etc. but surely learning from, and designing for, this type of community would provide a truly worthwhile challenge with an extremely practical outcome.

  19. Indianizer says:

    The elephant in the room is political backing for the slum dwellers. Over 3000 people from around India trek into Mumbai every day and they are herded into slums by politicians and their goons who in turn lock in their votes. Nobody wants to live in places like those shown in the photo above. It’s quite de-humanising – no self-respecting person would like to live there.

    When the Indians are spending $2 billion to build three nuclear submarines in Cochin, and ordering three Akula class nuclear attack submarines from Russia, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on their moon mission, launching a dozen satellites into space each year, donating dozens of millions of dollars to the UK’s Cambridge University, having a permanent naval presence to combat piracy off Somalia, running the Afghanistan Air Force, flying planes for the Tajikistan Air Force, when India’s second richest person is building a $2 billion home in Mumbai, and a whole lot more that can’t be mentioned here because of space limitations, then surely India can find the money to raze the slums, compensate the slum dwellers, and re-settle the people in high rises or elsewhere.

    It’s the politicians and the slum mafia that won’t allow a solution. A whole lot of cash, by way of protection money, filters up from the slums to the goons, then to the cops, the local councillors, the MLAs, the MPs, and even further up. The figures would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars every year. It’s that kind of funding that will dry up for the politicians. In a democracy, where elections are the cash cow for the pols and their hangers-on, those are easy pickings. It’s as simple as that.

  20. Takuan says:

    why don’t the poor people kill the rich people? They outnumber them.

  21. noen says:

    @ jetfx — “No human society, whether nomadic, agricultural or industrial is inherently sustainable.”

    Well by that measure neither is life itself. It’s a gamble, a crap shot. And some like Moriarty still seem to think I am advocating a return to Hunter/Gatherer even after I repeatedly state I am not. I wish people would read. I’m just skeptical and pessimistic. I don’t think it’s a good bet to put all your hopes on alternative or nuclear fuels.

    “That is an incredibly arrogant thing to say”

    We’re just sitting around talking, flapping our jaws. This is not a formal dissertation or anything of that sort. I’m just trying to see the silver lining in what I see as an unavoidable “catastrophic collapse with all the death and suffering it entails”. I don’t see the arrogance in that.

    “Just a quibble. There is enough proven coal reserves to last at least 150 years.”

    No, they won’t. Notice the weasel words in the wiki article? “At the current production rate, this would last 164 years.” They assume that production will stay flat, which it never does because consumption is a growth curve. The amount (900 gigatons of coal, 1 billion barrels of oil) of a resource plugged into the rate of growth in consumption will give you (using the appropriate formula) a good deal less than 164 years. I bet we have far less than that. Notice how hard it is to find the rate of growth of consumption.

    “if the oil runs out, civilization is not simply going to collapse from a lack of an energy source”

    Really? Why wouldn’t it? You need energy to run a civilization. Where is it going to come from assuming we don’t find a replacement?

    @ Rindan
    “the first thing the survivors would do would be to start planting crops.”

    In forty years we will be unable to grow wheat in the US. By the end of this century most of this planet will be desert. The seas will rise 6 meters. Life will exist at the poles or not at all. The Earth will remain in it’s new climate for 100,000 years.

    I don’t question whether humans will survive, I question, wonder, am skeptical of, whether our current technological civilization will survive and what will replace it. I do not share the optimism that some appear to have.

    “The only trick is converting that stuff and energy into something useful.”

    Except that’s quite a trick. So far the only life form that has been able to do that is blue-green algae. Remove chlorophyll and every living thing on earth dies in spite of all the energy around us. (Yes, I know, don’t get side tracked) We stepped off that tree branch and have been living off the waste of 3 billion years of life. When that reserve is depleted we either get back on the tree (hunter/gatherer) or we come up with something new.

    @ Moriarty
    “Innovation is the answer, not the enemy.”

    I never said it was. I simply question the glib generalities that I sometimes hear. This is a useful discussion to have.

  22. ridl says:

    Indianizer wins.

    Also, Always Coming Home is a fantastic book.

  23. ridl says:

    I really contributed nothing there, did I? Mod me down.

    Oh.

  24. IamInnocent says:


    why don’t the poor people kill the rich people? They outnumber them.

    I am confident that you know the answers, which are multiple and all of them right, to that question.

    One answer is that it has been done, repeatedly over historical times, to not much avail AFAIK.

    Another is that many of the poor people end up un the rich people’s armies and polices, where their job is to kill the other poor people who would revolt.

    Oh, there is also the simple fact that for most people, even the poorest, killing other humans doesn’t come naturally or easily or at all.

    I also observed that most people will tolerate a lot of abuse to protect whatever they can of their families and to achieve whatever small goal they fixed for themselves in life.

    Etc…

  25. elomnitz says:

    I think the conversation about prince charles’ personal merits and intelligence is irrelevant here.

    What is interesting is the broader conversation about what sustainability means and what models of development and urbanization can be considered sustainable.

    Sustainability can conceivably be achieved by societies or cities which might be better or worse in terms of quality of life than others that are not sustainable. There is no possibility of reaching complete sustainability in the sense that no society, organization, city etc can reach a state that is non-changing. A system can be long lasting and draw resources from the environment at a pace that allows the environment to continuously regenerate and still be full of human suffering. Ecologically speaking, any slum might be more sustainable than an American suburb in terms of resource consumption, although it can have unacceptable quality of life. Still, there is the possibility that humans can live and build in a way that has certain things in common with the way some slums are set up (not all slums are the same) and escape the more damaging, unpleasant or unhealthy aspects of slum life. I think this is the important point. For sustainability, high density, mixed residential and economic areas, walkability, intense recycling and a social structure that promotes general health, education, recreation, work and well being are important attributes in a settlement. I think the article points out that a slum like this one can be very successful in some of these respects. Maybe we can keep these and address the problems that there are. Without throwing the baby with the bathwater. I think we need to think about the true goals of development and, as others have written above, not be very black and white about the meaning of poverty. Not having much money is not necessarily the same thing as being poor, and being economically rich is not a guarantee of health and happiness.

  26. IamInnocent says:

    Rob that dumb ass from it titles, money and recognition and put him in such conditions: how long do you believe that that dimwitted moron would last?

    Jesus-Christ! I am so sick of bored rich people making up half assed stories to keep them from blowing their cavernous heads off.

  27. IamInnocent says:

    … and of course, being rich is not a crime per se, I hope.

  28. Ernunnos says:

    …And grow their own food. Oh wait, they don’t? Then it’s not sustainable, is it? Nothing that involves 600,000 people living on 520 acres is sustainable.

  29. elomnitz says:

    of course not. But happiness should be the goal, and material wealth is part of but not all of the equation

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      But happiness should be the goal, and material wealth is part of but not all of the equation.

      I have yet to see a link between wealth and happiness. Health care, yes. Education, yes. Comfortable shelter, good food, good working conditions, etc, yes. But I wouldn’t define any of those as wealth.

  30. nanuq says:

    Before we start praising this slum for being so sustainable, let’s see some actual data regarding life expectancy, child education, availability of health care and infant mortality. Those are the stats that should be used to measure quality of life.

  31. noen says:

    The Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle is the only sustainable lifestyle we know. This recent experiment of ours with agriculture is not sustainable and will have soon run it’s course. We’d better find something else pretty quick.

    Something like Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home is probably where our future lies.

  32. dimmer says:

    “public buildings were going up that looked like circus rides.”

    You say that like it’s a bad thing!

  33. jetfx says:

    @ #11 “The Hunter/Gatherer lifestyle is the only sustainable lifestyle we know.”

    No it isn’t. The whole reason humans settled down to farm in the ancient Fertile Crescent was because they had hunted many of the large animals into scarcity or extinction. It’s no coincidence that many large land mammals went extinct about the same time humans first arrived in the Americas and Australia tens of thousands of years ago.

    At least now we understand the impact we have on the environment and can use our technology to mitigate our impact. This was something our ancestors could not do, no matter their level of development.

  34. rhinokitty says:

    Let them eat cake! No, but seriously. The fact that a member of the royal family in England (not real government!) is irrelevant.

    It’s cute that he thinks it is sustainable, but what does he know? He is living a very unsustainable life.

  35. dewexdewex says:

    Nouveau pauvre.

  36. noen says:

    @ jetfx — Predator/Prey populations ebb and flow with the predator pop. crashing when they get too successful. That doesn’t mean that the relationship itself in unsustainable. Had our ancestors not been able to invent agriculture their pop. would have simply crashed until their prey recovered.

    Our technology will not save our current civilization. That is naive in my opinion.

  37. pfh says:

    Modern planners have had an attack of the stupid. I don’t know if this slum is doing anything original, but simply reverting to something old fashioned and sane is a big step up.

    It doesn’t have to just happen in slums.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwd4Lq0Xvgc&feature=PlayList&p=3F372CFBA3A87C1F&index=0

  38. Takuan says:

    sigh, very well then; I hereby publicly take on the challenge to prove once and for all, Money Does Buy Happiness. Send it in, I’ll make video.

  39. pfh says:

    Dimmer, if you haven’t watched the youtube series I linked to, I do highly recommend it. Andres Duany is not arguing for anything that can’t be built out of modern materials, he makes a point of this. He’s arguing that buildings not be segregated by function and homes not be segregated by income bracket, that they be laid out in a pedestrian friendly fashion, and a whole bunch of similarly sensible things.

    It’s not about a feeling of comfort, it’s about objectively better standards of living.

  40. IamInnocent says:


    I have yet to see a link between wealth and happiness

    If you think causality it is unlikely that you will find such a link. Correlation?
    No deal here:
    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/060629_money_happiness.html
    A mixed pot there:
    http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1763

    Well you can google as well as me.

    Difficult question: what if we turn it on its head?

    In your opinion, does abject poverty causes unhappiness?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      In your opinion, does abject poverty causes unhappiness?

      I’d go with yes on that one. However, the studies that I’ve seen on happiness seem to indicate that it’s almost completely tied to expectations and comparisons to societal norms. In one study, people chose to make $50K in a community with an average of $25K rather than make $100K in a community with an average of $200K. It’s more important to do as well or better than your peers than it is to have more resources. I imagine that probably breaks down at the lowest end of the scale where survival is in question, but very poor people will starve for a month in order to spend money on a status-building event like a wedding.

  41. presto says:

    I don’t have enough information to make even an initial judgment about this. I did not see Slumdog Millionaire so I have no preconceived notion. I did hear that many of the people in the movie are still in abject poverty.

    This post strikes me as very problematic. Ideals may be for geeks and losers, but I still have mine. How about not looking at ways to house the poor, for bad or worse, but instead look at ways to fight the poverty itself?

  42. Takuan says:

    nope, well, not until you starve to death after watch your kids die of common, curable illnesses. But aside from that!

  43. jetfx says:

    @Noen

    To see ourselves as simply another animal is simplifying things too much. That’s not to say that we are qualitatively separate from nature, but the very fact we can see the relationships between predator and prey puts us in a position where we do not have to adhere to them so rigidly. We created technology to get around these natural limitations.

    We do not have sharp appendages so we created flint tools. We developed methods of hunting to augment what little instinct we had. We learned how to preserve what we hunted and gathered to prepare for times when fresh food sources might be scarce. Like animals, human populations could and did crash when they over hunted, but unlike animals, crisis gave incentive to find another way to survive rather than be a slave to growth/starvation cycles. After hunting one species to extinction, we adapt to hunting a new one that originally may have been harder to catch relative to the extinct animal. It’s also why agriculture was developed.

    Pursuit of development can lead to progress traps where our new technology inadvertently creates a serious problem, but often the solution is technology. We overcome by adapting our tools and methods to the new situation, not by citing the myth of the Noble Savage as a model for sustainability – which the evidence clearly suggests it is not.

  44. TallDave says:

    It does better than some of the alternatives.

    Of course, the real solution is to foster the kind of economic growth that will make such situations obsolete.

  45. IamInnocent says:

    @Elomnitz:

    True, Charles isn’t at all as interesting as the discussion on sustainability which nicely developed. I like to read and learn from what you and other have to say on the subject.

    Nevertheless, at the origin, the subject wasn’t sustainability itself but the ridiculous assertion that the Dharavi slum was a great example of it. I’ve had an epidermic reaction I guess, probably aggravated by what I’ve learned from my girlfriend who spends half her life working in such environments all around Africa and Asia.

  46. elomnitz says:

    “Does abject poverty cause unhappiness?”

    I think it does. though maybe not in every single persons case… still, I’m sure most people who live in abject poverty would consider getting out of poverty as a top desire. But poverty is a somewhat ambiguous word… it means more than having little money or stuff. Of course in hunter gatherer societies having no money did not make you exactly “poor”, but thats obvious… Ghandi made it a mission to live like a poor person materially speaking, by not amassing wealth and by living, dressing and eating very austerely, but he was not really poor. I think poverty has to do with a lack of power over your own life and freedom to follow your happiness and ambitions. Maybe if we as societies emphasized freedom less as the ability to own things we desire and gave social rewards like respect, love admiration etc… to people for reasons other than material wealth, then having little money might have less impact on our sense of happiness. Im not saying we only give these rewards to people for having wealth, but we definitely do. Most people unconsciously give more respect to a person in a suit than to a person not wearing any shoes on the street, and that is a real problem to divorcing ourselves from unsustainable consumerism and to adopting a view of development based on generating happiness more than material wealth.

  47. william says:

    Just doing the math, that’s 37.7 sq feet (or 3.5 sq meters) of land per person. 10x more dense than Manhattan, except that I’m guessing that Dharavi doesn’t build quite as high. That’s dense!

  48. aelfscine says:

    …said Charles from his palace. I wonder if this Charles ever spent a week working at Wal-Mart? More tourism.

  49. elomnitz says:

    iaminnocent

    I understand what you are saying completely… I also think it is silly to glorify a slum. I do think however that as we search for ways of developing sustainable cities and societies, we should not overlook positive elements in any specific kind of development because they are next to nasty ones. I think some slums do provide at least interesting examples of highly non-wasteful ways of living, and where there are slums that escape a complete disintegration of social fabric there is probably much to be learned. However, any ideal form of development I think will not look like a slum except perhaps in some of those elements we mentioned, recycling, density, mixed zoning, low motorized vehicles per person ratios, etc…

    thanks

  50. Tom Hale says:

    “Of course, the real solution is to foster the kind of economic growth that will make such situations obsolete.”

    I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter how good the economy is if you have a population out-breeding its ability to feed and house itself. I’m going to have to agree with Noen on this.

  51. Rusty Idols says:

    John Ralston Saul raised a similar point in his book The Collapse of Globalism.

    Basically he pointed out that Globalists point to the drop in numbers of people world wide making less than a dollar a day as a huge coup for IMF and World Bank policies but:

    “After all, people at $3 a day could be living a life of pure despair in a savage slum of Lagos, a life far worse than at $1 a day in a stable slum like Klong Toey in Bangkok, where there is a societal structure.”

    Or sometimes an even better life of stable subsistence farming without using money at all. Reducing poverty has alternative pathways to just moving everybody into the cities and incorporating them into the existing economic structure at the bottom rung.

  52. dimmer says:

    Fine: when Charles lives there for a decade I’ll give some credence to his words. But I guess that won’t happen.

    “The poor love to be poor! We help them by keeping them that way!!”

    Bullshit.

  53. moniker42 says:

    Man, I wanna go to India. :(

  54. bolamig says:

    I’m glad to see people realizing that driving Priuses to brand new green-built McMansions and eating Organic veggies from half way around the world is not a scalable model.

  55. IamInnocent says:

    @Elomnitz:

    nice post at #50 but even nicer wrap up to fall back on sustainability. I smiled.

    @Antinous:
    complex people, those humans, aren’t they?
    We have to break off those patterns though to achieve either or both happiness (or serenity or peace, all worthy goals) and sustainability. Fortunately, the behaviors described by those studies are averages, which means that many of us already wander off the ‘norm’. Those explorers do come back with some interesting discoveries some time.

  56. noen says:

    @ presto –
    Fighting poverty means political change i.e. the haves would have less and that is unacceptable to the haves. It’s much better to put out propaganda like Slumdog Millionaire and get the poor to believe in a Horatio Alger lie. Sort of like convincing poor white men that their best interest lies in giving multi-billionaires more of their money.

    @ jetfx
    I don’t disagree with much of what you’ve said. I’m just skeptical that we can always innovate our way out of every crisis. No amount of technological innovation is going to make a slum “sustainable”.

    I’m not holding hunter gatherers up as Noble Savages. I just think that, given the odds, we are heading to something like that again. I don’t understand why you think H/G is unsustainable. When you can get all your survival needs for food, clothing and shelter directly from the environment, that’s sustainable in my mind. Getting your food, shelter and clothing from a pool of oil as we do now, well that only lasts as long as the oil does. Both coal and oil are pretty much gone by the end of this century.

    Then what? Go back to a simple agrarian life style? Don’t think so. Climate change will nix that option. What I believe is going to happen is that by the end of this century there will be about a billion people on Earth. All clustered around the now tropical arctic seas. It’s very likely that those survivors will be ruled by strong men and warlords. When civilizations fall they take everyth9ing with them.

    I don’t know, maybe that’ll be a good thing. Mankind could use a little humility.

  57. eustace says:

    So, people are recognizing that poverty isn’t one-dimensional? That can be a hard thing to recognize, if the only measure you use is dollars.

  58. jetfx says:

    @ #20 Tom Hale “I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter how good the economy is if you have a population out-breeding its ability to feed and house itself. I’m going to have to agree with Noen on this.”

    If that were occurring it wouldn’t be a good economy at all. Good economies are where economic growth outstrips the growth of population, so everyone’s piece of the pie gets larger. Otherwise the economy may increase in size, but only because the number of people participating has increased, which leads to no economic improvement per person, or worse – a decrease.

    Besides, characterizind human population growth as one big Malthusian catastrophe waiting to happen is simplistic at best.

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