Ross, I couldn`t agree more. The growing push for ethanol has a lot of repercussions that have not yet been adequately addressed, especially in regards to the impact on our food supply.
I think the problem—and perhaps this helps fuel those who dismiss sustainabality as a useless or impractical or unproven endeavor—is twofold:
1) There are still many unknowns. Our understanding of the complexities and interdependent nature of our various ecological, economic and political systems is still young. As a society, we are only now beginning to accept the fact that these systems are interdependent, and so we still have a lot to learn about how they work (and don`t work) together. Because of this, there are very few proven standards with which to judge many of the new "solutions" being touted by all three sectors. We`re seeing a growth of standards-setting groups for business (B-Corporation being the latest I`ve heard about), but each has their own methodology. This poses obvious challenges.
2) Many of the answers are counterintuitive. This speaks directly to the ethanol issue; what may seem like a reasonable solution may actually not be. Given that our consumerist culture is so attached to the instant-gratification-act-before-thinking mentality, ideas may be getting implemented before we do enough research. This of course, could squelch all our efforts before we even have a chnace to discover the "best" options.
This is why I feel so strongly that the only way true sustainability can be achieved—if at all—is if there is a paradigm shift in how we approach almost everything: economy, ecology, politics, population, organization, technology, etc. Of course, I`m no dummy. That`s a tall order. But I think our culture has taken a pretty dramatic turn since, say, 1960. There`s no reason to think it won`t shift again—maybe in an entirely different direction—over the next several decades. And if it does, it is likely to happen at an even more rapid rate than previous changes.
Anyway, it`s hard not to get philosophical about this when looking at the ground-level/practical implementation of particular ideas.
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