According to a 2005 book by Andres Edwards, we are entering into a new social revolution akin to the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800s. This new social revolution began with the publication of the 1987 Brundtland report, Our Common Future and (arguably) reached its critical mass sometime around the 1992 Rio Earth Summit where world leaders met to discuss and agree upon actions to curb impending environmental crises.
Thankfully, the movement continued to grow, expanding its objectives to a wider field and encompassing the concerns of a large and diverse number of individuals. Today signs of the sustainability revolution are everywhere. I recently returned from a Life Cycle Assessment Conference in Portland, OR- ranked Number 1 Green City in the US by Popular Science. Even in a fast-food burger joint, signs of environmental concern were everywhere. Our order receipts displayed not only the cost, but also the nutritional information of our meal. The hamburger wrapper talked about recycling and the proper disposal bin in which to toss it. It cost us a little over $2 to ride the public transportation from the airport to the downtown, and once we arrived there, we rode at no cost in the city’s “free zone.”
There are some awesome things happening in this revolution, but its not just cities that are making changes. Jerald Schnoor, the editor of Environmental Science & Technology, recently published a commentary titled Sustainability: The Art of the Possible. Schnoor identifies the steps corporations like Mars Inc., Unilever, Heinz, and Tesco are taking to reduce their environmental footprint and add transparency to their supply chains. Dole Inc has even labeled each of their organic bananas and pineapples with a 3-digit DPC number which consumers can enter at Dole’s website to find where the banana was produced!
The Sustainability Revolution is really starting to catch on. Hopefully some of the improvements we’ve made in the 23 years since the Brundtland report will start making a visible difference on our health and the environment in which we live. But don’t let this progress slow your own personal action! Think of this: If every city in the US, no- the WORLD, was as “green” as Portland, what else would need to change? Would we still consume far too much for our natural resources to handle? Would we still generate hard-to-handle wastes that consume more water and energy than we can afford? Will residential complexes still be too pricey to house the lower class?
Join the Sustainability Revolution and see where it leads!