Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sustainable development: learning from the past for the future

Sites related to GeogSplace 
Spatialworlds blog
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class


"Sustainability is both a goal and a way of thinking"

 Tatanka Yotanka (Sitting Bull), Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux (1831-1890)

Some great quotes on the connection between humans and land from the First Nation people of America. They thought very differently about sustainability, compared to modern western industrial society. They had much wisdom on human-land relations.

 "The Great Spirit is in all things, he is in the air we breathe. The Great Spirit is our Father, but the Earth is our Mother. She nourishes us, that which we put into the ground she returns to us." Big Thunder (Bedagi) Wabanaki Algonquin

"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children." 
Ancient  American Indian proverb

"The American Indian is of the soil, whether it be the region of forests, plains, pueblos, or mesas. He fits into the landscape, for the hand that fashioned the continent also fashioned the man for his surroundings. He once grew as naturally as the wild sunflowers, he belongs just as the buffalo belonged."    Luther Standing Bear Oglala Sioux  1868-1937

"When we Indians kill meat, we eat it all up. When we dig roots, we make little holes. When we build houses, we make little holes. When we burn grass for grasshoppers, we don't ruin things. We shake down acorns and pine nuts. We don't chop down the trees. We only use dead wood. But the white people plow up the ground, pull down the trees, kill everything. ... the White people pay no attention. ...How can the spirit of the earth like the White man? ... everywhere the White man has touched it, it is sore."Wintu Woman, 19th Century
"We must protect the forests for our children, grandchildren and children yet to be born. We must protect the forests for those who can't speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish and trees."  Qwatsinas (Hereditary Chief Edward Moody), Nuxalk Nation

Treat the earth well.
It was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our Children.
~ Ancient Indian Proverb ~

Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together.
All things connect.
~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.
~ Cree Prophecy ~

I do not think the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man.
~ Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe ~

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

    - An Ute Prayer

 Quanah of the Comanche

Considering these quotes and the relationship such indigenous group had/have with the land we can now look at the efforts being made around the world in the 21st Century to arrest and and even reverse much of the damage done to our environment through uncontrolled economic development over the past 100-200 years. The concept of sustainable devlopment is fundamental to work of a geographer as we balance the issues of environmental, social, cultural and economic sustaibability of life on Earth.

The Industrial Revolution and the related technological advances have greatly intensified human impacts on the environment – little regard for their ecological limits in the pursuit of material wealth, consumption and economic development.
We need to pursue sustainable development

At any level of development, human impact on the environment is a function of population size, per capita consumption and the environmental damage caused by the technology used to produce what is consumed.

From the Australian Government

Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) represents one of the greatest challenges facing Australia's governments, industry, business and community in the coming years. While there is no universally accepted definition of ESD, in 1990 the Commonwealth Government suggested the following definition for ESD in Australia:
  • 'using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased'.
Put more simply, ESD is development which aims to meet the needs of Australians today, while conserving our ecosystems for the benefit of future generations. To do this, we need to develop ways of using those environmental resources which form the basis of our economy in a way which maintains and, where possible, improves their range, variety and quality. At the same time we need to utilise those resources to develop industry and generate employment.

The Guiding Principles are:

  • decision making processes should effectively integrate both long and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations
  • where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation
  • the global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered
  • the need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognised
  • the need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognised
  • cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms
  • decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them

OECD Sustainability document
Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Another list of guiding principles for sustainabilty

Quadruple Bottom Line (QBL) of Sustainable development
The QBL has become a powerful defining factor of sustainable development in the  21st century. The quadruple bottom line takes into consideration the following factors:
1. Environmental
2. Social
3. Cultural (including governance)
4. Economic.
Just like many of the indigenous cultures, Geography sees sustainability broader than the physical environment as an isolated ‘thing’. It is the interdependency of the QBL that we see as teh necessary approach to sustainable development.
Some videos to watch on Sustainable development

"The Spirits Warn You Twice,
The Third Time You Stand Alone"
From the 1927 Grand Council of American Indians

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