Sustainable development

This concept gives compelling evidence of our species' awareness of threats to survival. It shows that we have the potential to improve our chances by changing our behavior patterns. It calls into question the belief that according to natural selection the human species is at the mercy of Nature. It challenges the idea that the continued existence of the human species is determined, like any other, by its adaptability to a given environment. In fact the human species can modify not only its own behavior but also its environment, and therefore also its evolution, to a greater degree than any other vertebrate. It follows that a destructive environment does not necessarily assign the human species, any subgroup, or individual member of it to extinction.

Moreover, the idea of sustainable development reduces the fear that human machinations pose a greater threat than the tempests of Mother Nature. It is true that humans are tragically slow at becoming aware of self-made threats to survival, as they are often subservient to their own systems for too long. Contrary to the ministrations of doomsayers, we are well equipped to resolve the battle between nature and the harmful instruments of human devising.

Nobody claims it will be easy. Investing heavily in our capacity for learning can make the difference, for learning is what our species does best. Nonetheless, when "ignorant armies clash" over oil for example, they undermine the human capacity for learning by turning attention away from peaceful alternatives. Sustainable development may be a valuable a lesson, yet it does not inspire power-hungry policymakers to mend their ways, and has not caught on with an indifferent public.


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"The Progress Trap - and how to avoid it" Copyright Daniel O'Leary, registered at
the Copyright Office, Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Canada on April 5, 1991 (ref 405917)