Opinions & Letters

Sustainability calls for a system approach

 | July 15, 2011

In recent years, the issue of global pollution has become more of a concern than ever. The associated problems can be solved only with a system approach on all levels.

Every system is always part of a bigger system and, in turn, consists of a number of smaller systems. For example, our solar system is part of the galaxy, and consists of the sun and planets, including planet Earth. The Earth has its own complex systems, including geology, oceans, and human civilization amongst others.

In general terms, sustainability is a system’s ability to maintain its state over time without need for external resources or energy. The solar system, with planets spinning around the sun on stable orbits, can be considered a sustainable system.

I am not a real believer in the idea that sustainability can be achieved simply by appealing to the conscience, although educating people is an important part of it. I also disagree with those who call for stopping the progress, reducing the needs and shrinking the population. There’s no light of hope in a future like this.  ­­

In fact, real sustainability is not an ideal state, but a goal. It is not just a “feature” either, like a solar panel or a wind turbine. Yes, it can be started from a small element, but it has to become a crystal around which the sustainable structure would grow.

In the urban context, specific combinations of components and their interconnection should be involved in planning for sustainable architecture integrated with the environment, proper density, infrastructure for alternative transportation, and more green spaces within the city. On the national level it’s energy planning based on the long-term impact, and not short-term benefits, encouraging industries, working in the area of alternative energy, waste recycling, and investment in research in those areas.

Vladimir Grebenyuk,
Sun Peaks, B.C.

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