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Page history last edited by Professor Wayne Hayes 12 years, 11 months ago

Statement of Concern

This statement is now a separate web page. The wiki facilitates discussion. ~WH 6/13/2011


Your statement of concern brought up valid arguments and insight into the problem of global ecological crisis. While your definition in the discussion of a crisis is on point, through readings on crisis that influence the agenda for past assignments, I found that the only type of crisis that receives full on attention, are ones that occur unexpectedly and impact many severely such as a natural disaster or terroristic attack, and this is a problem. While I can see global warming and climate change and its impacts leading to the most ultimate severe crisis impacting the world-the destruction of mankind- because its symptoms and possibilities are not felt by mankind today, at least personally to each individual, its seriousness is not believed by most. For this reason, while it may make it onto the agenda, it is not prioritized in a way where policies can be formed. I agree that world sustainability is the mindset in which mankind needs to make an adjustment in survival habits. Alternative resources have been researched and now need to be formulated into the takeover as the main source of use rather than in processes where non-renewable resources continue to be depleted. Geothermal energy, solar power, and wind energy need to be taken advantage of and implemented. Mankind needs to be educated on sustainable living techniques and appropriate technology. Encouragement of local and small consumption in agriculture needs to be promoted. All of these ideas, however, are more easily said than done. These ideas need to be believed, accepted, and promoted by policy and decision makers, and adapted by large corporations who will have the most success in promoting the dilemma. It easy to say all these things need to change, rather then on providing a plan on how these things can be implemented and happen. Lester Brown provides somewhat of this resource, the plan of sustainability, in his book Plan B 4.0 and how to transition to a new energy economy. While it may be complicated in this transition because of lack of time and budgeting (2 scarce resources) the only real thing that I believe that has been missing was already well stated by Donella Meadows, the human will to achieve it. 

Thanks, Daniela. You have properly interpreted my concerns and Brown's response within the language of the Public Policy Cycle, no small thing for our course. Brown and this statement attempts to shape an agenda. Brown part one does that but notice as you read Brown that he documents concerns no longer as forecast but as matters of record, and his vast array of references documents this record. Thanks for editing the page. ~WH


I noticed that this was a question you also asked in your World Sustainability class that I took last summer.  I re-read my answer and not only does that still seem to be the case, "progress at any cost", but it also enhances what Daniela said above in that "the only type of crisis that receives full on attention, are ones that occur unexpectedly and impact many severely such as a natural disaster or terroristic attack".  A year ago all anyone was talking about was the BP oil spill.  This was a hot item that engulfed the entire country in a huge debate over whether or not offshore drilling should be allowed.  Naturally, this was a big discussion point for political figures trying to gain points with the public.  A little over a year later and you hardly hear anything about it anymore.  While there may still be small circles discussing this issue, it does not have the same attention it did a year ago...out of sight, out of mind.  Does that mean we don't need to worry about off shore drilling anymore?  Does that mean we don't want tougher regulations?  Not at all.  It just goes to show the short attention span of the american people (and the American government).  So even as Daniela pointed out that a large crisis receives full attention, that attention does have a shelf life and it is not a very long one.  -Robert Zutterman


Thanks for remembering, Robert. I call this "policy amnesia," showing how yesterday's crisis just drops off the agenda. In April, I participated in a conference on the spill, suggesting that the disaster prompts a long-term regional planning effort within the entire Gulf region, involving several states. This, of course, will go nowhere. My larger point, consistent with the remarks from you and from Daniela, is that a flaw in policy making is that the agenda suffers from attention deficit disorder. I use the Public Policy Cycle to identify flaws in the process. By remembering, you and Daniela point out one of those flaws. Thanks. ~WH 6/16/2011


Comments (12)

Professor Wayne Hayes said

at 10:56 am on Jun 20, 2011

Kristine, more and more folks are becoming more and more concerned. Alas, the young will carry this burden, as will their children --- which is why the inter-generational time frame of world sustainability is essential. The economic aspects, such as the havoc now in Greece, complicates the picture. Further, as Speth points out, growth in material output is constrained. Hence, sustainability provides a promising alternative paradigm. ~WH

kdonova2@ramapo.edu said

at 12:55 pm on Jun 19, 2011

I agree with the other comments, we are only worried about short term effects. Many people feel that nothing will go wrong with the environment because people do not see the imediate problem right away. For example, if someone litters, they just see the item on the ground. They do not see the long term effect that it has on our environment. Humans are not in a concious state of mind when they are thinking of their environment. this leads to a bigger problem than anyone can even think of. Unfortunetly, it seems that until the environment is crumbling down right in front of us, will humans then think, "We should have done something."

Kirsten May said

at 10:29 am on Jun 15, 2011

I couldnt agree more with this well put statement. We dont give much attention to anything on the agenda unless it is a crisis when truthfully, our environment is the biggest crisis we are facing. Just look at the insane weather the entire planet has been facing: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados and now I am hearing that a major volcano in Hawaii is pending eruption. Is this meant to be, or the effect of humans harming the environment? Maybe mother nature's way of saying "get it together!"

Dave Bager said

at 4:29 pm on Jun 23, 2010

I think it's a sad but true statement and scenario we've created for ourselves as humans. We have a need for greed and want short-term fixes despite possible long-term consequences. If we continue to do this our planet will be in serious trouble and will not be able to sustain life. Based off our conception of time, it may seem like a while until there becomes a SERIOUS danger, but slowly but surely life on earth will be deteriorating and will have a negative impact on future generations, which is not fair to them. We need to start to becoming more conscious of our behaviors and realize that we can't take anything on this planet for granted.

Professor Wayne Hayes said

at 2:40 pm on Jun 20, 2010

Melissa, published, peer reviewed science, and our entire Env. Science faculty, concur re human impacts, but, really little matters, for conserving energy and diversifying sources is a benefit for a host of solid reasons. Brown calls attention to what's now happening, such as melting glaciers and permafrost. Note that your course is not founded on climate change but a much wider series of interconnected concerns.

Melissa Cohen said

at 5:03 pm on Jun 19, 2010

Last semester I took an Intro to Astronomy class and the professor was dead set on the idea that humans had little to do with the climate changes we are currently experiencing. He stated over and over again that this is a cycle that the planet we call home goes through every millions of years. Though I would like to agree with him and take some of the blame off of myself and the human race, it's hard to believe that we didn't lend a helping hand in the drastic changes. It is disheartening to hear about the natural disasters which have been caused by the changing weather and even more disheartening because I know that the American people are a major player, even more so than most of the other people in the world. It makes me think that solely taking shorter showers, turning the water off when brushing my teeth and not accepting a plastic bag when going to the grocery store just isn't enough. I have grown up and been conditioned to be selfish when it comes to using our natural resources and creating a large portion of the worlds waste. I worry that the people of my generation and those before me are too set in our ways to change and help prevent future incidents from occurring. The one comforting thought is that younger generations have been brought up knowing about global warming and are more conscious about waste, and overuse of natural resources. Hopefully these will be the people who grow up and encourage their companies to invest in wind or solar energy. When they buy their first car it will be a hybrid and they will be the people to pick up the slack of people less willing to look to the future.

Melissa Cohen - June 19, 2010

Julianne Harris said

at 8:31 pm on Jun 18, 2010

I agree with Jeanne C about humans ignorance with new concepts and technology. We are a greedy species who always need more power and faster cars (more air pollution), without being aware of long term effects. As of right now raising awareness is most important so we can pass on what we know to future generations since our planet is pretty much in their hands. It is a scary idea that humans have made such an impact on the environment in the short amount of time we have been here and it is a sad idea as well that our existence and that of many other species may be coming to an end and so many people are clueless to this concept. For many people, a change in lifestyles even a little bit will make an impact, we must work together to help clean up the environment that we collectively destroyed.

Professor Wayne Hayes said

at 3:17 pm on Jun 16, 2010

Thanks, Bob. I find that the Thwink site resonates with students. BP has a gold mine here, a real gusher worth billions. For chump change, the corporation took foolish short-cuts. An oil well is too important to be wasted. The era of Peak Oil demands that government regulate sensibly if the industry will not do the job right. This corporate behavior invites regulation, and it will probably be clumsy. ~WH

Bob Zutterman said

at 2:12 pm on Jun 16, 2010

I think the article on Thwink.org sums it up best in that the biggest problem is changing the "world's dominant paradigm" as they describe it. Many companies today still hold true to "progress at any cost". The BP disaster is a perfect example. They obviously did not take the necessary time and effort to make sure a spill like this could be avoided. When it did happen, they pointed the fingers at others rather than taking responsibility for their own lack of effort. And even now they are being "forced" by the government to set aside money to help victims of this tragic spill. We must change the way we live our lives and think about money if we are to ever come close to establishing world sustainability.

jeanne carlson said

at 4:59 pm on Jun 14, 2010

I beleive when industry first began we were ignorant to the long term affects of chemicals on our environment, but through the years we have come to understand the affects. We are now aware of pollution from carbon monoxide and chemicals used for agriculture ect.. We now know that many cause cancer and other illnesses. Industry has caused many pollutants and environmental problems. An example being the Ford plant in Mahwah NJ. They dumped toxic waste all over NJ and paritcularly in Ringwood NJ where they have a law suit. Many people are dying from cancer and suffering other related illnesses. They still have yet to finish cleaning up the site. The mafia took over the areas waste management and dumped paint and other chemicals all over. For the love of money no one cared what they were doing to the environment. Greed is in opposition to the environment. Many may have a job where they have to look the other way inorder to save their means of an income. I'm sure there were many of them in the Ford plant. To save money illegally dump. To save money BP sacrificed safety and the environment. Now everyone is paying the price. There's no telling how far this oil will travel. Also it is effecting wild life and buisnesses. Population control is something that we could influence through education and government. What we all do affects each other. Nature and man have to be in balance, and we have thrown everything out of balance. This has also caused the natural disasters that has increased on the earth. In order for sustainability to work all must be involved. We all must work together, not just hear in America but throughout the world. What we are working against is summed up in greed and selfishness. In order to make a change it will take the majority around the world to work together. Jeanne C.

Professor Wayne Hayes said

at 12:44 pm on Jun 10, 2010

Thanks, Irene. I did not attempt to locate specific blame but to define an action agenda. I am working on framing this for next week. World Sustainability is neither all markets nor big government. Stay tuned. ~WH

izampeto@ramapo.edu said

at 12:13 pm on Jun 10, 2010

Professor- The statement was honest and sincere; as there were no blaming and no naming. Excellent read! It captured my own beliefs, which is that no
matter the region, the country, or the class you live in the world is shared and anything threatening to a neighbor's life will in time threaten your own (ex. the BP Spill
in the gulf; the spill is affecting many people not just those directly at the scene). Therefore, because of a shared world comes a shared responsibility, which excuses
and politics as usual will not help to fix. Innovation and alternative courses of action must be incorporated. At the moment, I don't have answers to this
issue of sustainability, however, hope to form new ideas and insight as the course moves forward.

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