Sustainable Technology Needs to be More Than Just a Fad, Now More than Ever


According to statistics, we currently use 1.5 times the entire resources available on this planet to sustain ourselves each year, meaning that it takes the Earth about 1 year and 5 months to rebuild the resources consumed by us in just one year. While running out of the planet's resources sounded like a rather distant threat even a few decades ago, it is now a very real and existent, no longer dismissable as a concern for future generations. What used to be a sign of farsightedness reserved for the educationally elite, is now an absolute necessity in maintaining socio-economic balance. And yet, despite there being no lackage of dreadful evidences of a collapsing planet, concern for preserving the land on which we live is hardly as much of a concern as it needs be.

It is somehow admirable to hear terms like "ecological balance" and "sustainable living" spew forth from the mouths of Oxford scholars and political candidates; having a gentle heart that weeps for the indiscretions against the world in which houses us is certainly good for business. But truly, how far are we prepared to go in order to save Planet Earth from the inevitable collapse it has been prophesied to have (by scientists, not priests) in the few coming years? Are we prepared to suffer a few losses in business in the name of forest preservation? Would we interest ourselves in making "unnecessary investments" in consumer goods to make them more eco-friendly? Are we still ready to decide upon which political candidate to vote for based significantly on their environmental beliefs? The answer is, quite sadly, no. We, as humans, may have finally got around to acknowledging the harm we have done to our environment, but we are still not even close to reeling back from the damage we have done so far. That needs to change really, really fast.

If you are an environmentalist, I read your frustration. To be amongst the selected few who have actually risen up and spent day and night to actually do something for a sustainable future, it is harsh to have the subject of your life's work dismissed as a mere buzzword. Trust me, I am one of those who would, more than anything else, love to see a rise of ecological consciousness among the people of the world. But what we want is entirely different from what we get. The collective expenditure in renewable energy reached a new low in 2013 when it trickled down to $254 billion after being on a serious decline since 2011. On the other hand, spendthrift and eco-unfriendly industries such as coal and plastic have been at an obvious high. Forests are being chopped off by the thousands each year like paper being thrown into a shredder, boasting off our obvious ignorance for planetary welfare. In the meantime, waste accumulation has reached a new height thanks to improper disposal and scanty recycling habits amongst consumers.

Theoretically, and I say that because there is so much more yet to be practically applied, technology can do a lot to reduce the burden on our planet's resources and help create a sustainable lifestyle habit. Solar panels and hydroelectricity generators can be used to produce renewable resources of energy. Eco-friendly architecture can be applied to construct modular homes and green buildings that lower the consumption of resources. Efficient methods of recycling and waste disposal can be developed. In fact, almost every consumer good can be refined to create a more environmentalist alternative. I am not saying there isn't enough investment in this dominion. New startups are springing up every now and then with more creative methods to a sustainable life. Big guns like Walmart, Microsoft and Amazon are investing big dollars to make their businesses more sustainable. And yet, despite the initiative, a full-fledged sci-fi dystopia is exactly where we are headed sixty years from now.

The reason behind this is simple. The actual motivation behind sustainable living isn't a genuine concern for the ecosystem so much as it is a short-term initiative meant to garner corporate investments and political support. In a way, that's good. It shows that the people of the world are actually more likely to prefer a political candidate or a corporate giant that regards the environment with respect. At the same time, it is still far from the ideal position where each and every unit of society, small or big, does something to genuinely alleviate the pressure on our resources instead of merely appealing to public sympathy. In the most disheartening chance of events, sustainability is still merely the latest fashion then an actual concern amongst individuals and groups.

Given the current turn of circumstances, sustainability needs to be a way of living, a code of morality, even a legal mandate if need be, certainly not a mere object of current sensation. The planet is crying out to us, the question is, are we even listening?