Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community
Igor N. Malakhov
for Discussion Roundtables 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 18, 20, 25, 26, 28, 36 and 55
Table of Contents|
Transition to sustainable development
The past fourthly years ago has seen me deeply involved with the question of sustainability. The words «Sustainable Development(SD)» appear more frequently in mass media, the reports of different international organisations and in public conversations. The meaning are sometimes different. However it is obvious that the mass subconscious shapes a new vision of the world. In the Brundtland report, sustainability is defined, in the narrowest sense of the word, as making sure that we leave enough resources for the next generation. This is enough interesting remark that sustainable is not general state in modern industry. We can speak about sustainability with regard to information systems, clean production, agriculture, transportation and energy systems. Another side of the problem of sustainability regard to processes of extraction of mineral resources, in general concerns the mining industrial.
Please, note that heavy industrial and mining regions have experienced irreversible transformations of nature. The result of this is the anthropogen ecosystem; that is, the irreversible transfer of the environment from natural to an anthrpogenous state. These changes include: the relief, the hydrosphere, entrails of the earth, the atmospheric conditions, gravitational and electromagnetic fields, and the geochemistry of both surface and underground soils. both surface and underground soils. Of course, the flora and fauna are changed in these regions. Returning all these parameters to their natural state is practically impossible. Perhaps, the Netherlands is the best example. Modern urban agglomerates such as New York, Tokyo, and Moscow may also demonstrate this situation. Regions of long-time intensive extraction and processing of mineral fossils (Ruhr, Silezia, Kryvyi Rih Basin, Donetsk Basin, etc.) also fall into this category.
Irreversible changes -- in environment is a result of non-renewable depletion or transformation of one or more resources in the nature of the region. This is result of development of a technological civilisation. In other words it is general product evolution of an industry society. The amount of irreversible changing in the environment every year is about the same as the productivity of our biosphere every year. Strong arguments to support this teases are found in the article of R. Costanza, R. d’Arge, R.de Groot and other. This authors show, that the biosphere has a limit of natural capital stocks. The is estimate to be in the range of US$ 16-54 trillion per year. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year . The works of the «Roman Club» members (J.Meddous, J Forrester, A.Pechey and other) also N.N.Moiseev (Russia) show clearly that a human being as a biological entity is reaching its development limits within the biosphere [3,4,5].
So, it is possible observe transition from industry society (the open world of growth and progress) to post-industrial society (Sustainable Development in the world with limits of nature resources). This processes is like irreversible transfer of the environment from natural to an anthrpogenous state.
The gross national product (GNP)
GNP is single, real index using for measuring and comparing the state of economy. In fact, economic driving force is one of the main force in industrial society. That is why, the single most widely used indicator is GNP. A measure of the total output of goods and services in an economy, the GNP is the basis for a lot of countries. The experience of using the GNP index shows some failings in its ability to assess long - term progress. One of the greatest failing in using this index is the problem of accurately estimating of environmental damage. Unfortunately, GNP increase as extensive extracting of nature resources increases. The GNP increase is accompanied by environment degradation, decrease in the average life span and deterioration of overall health of the population. Moreover, the growth of GNP sometime is a sign of future non-stable development. For example growth of GNP at the expense of mineral and other natural resources of countries. The trend today in post-industrial countries is to make things less labour intensive and more capital –intensive also GNP continues to grow. In both cases growth of GNP is leads to non-sustainable future. Hopefully, this statement correlates positively with the conclusion reached by "Roman Club" with regard to limits growth of technological civilisation. As regards global environmental crises, long-time growth of GNP without limits today causes a decrease in the future quality of life.
It is necessary to recognise, GNP was one of the better economic indicators of industry society. The short comings of GNP, mention above, only reflects the processes of transition currently taking place, that is, from an open world of growth and progress to sustainable development world. So, post-industry society needs a new index, one which reflects a new reality and the priorities of this society.
Now, the efficiency of a technology is assessed by the following: least-costs option, maximum surplus value per resource unit, increase in production at the same expense, increase in labour productivity; or by other options of the mentioned criteria.
The traditional criterion and techniques of economy, so as GNP, clear benefit, also level of damage to Nature, cost of prevented damage, efficiency of using resources and others do not take into account Human Rights and Health of a man. A growing realisation of the failings of the conventional clear economic indicators, such as GNP and income as the primary indicators of economic progress has led to the development of alternative indicators. It is a appropriate to use for this purpose the well known social indexes which were fruitfully elaborated by R.Bauer, V.Brundtland, W.Nordhouse, and Toffler lay special emphasis on the conditions of the individual. That is why D.Toybin and W.Nordhouse evaluated people's lives in big cities with the index measure of economic welfare (MEW). The Index Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) is a comprehensive step to a new kind of index of Sustainable Development measurement. The ISEW takes into account not only consumption, but also damage of nature and processes of GNP distribution. This index had some usage in USA in 1970-1990 years. "Applying this comprehensive measure shows a rise in welfare per person in the USA of 42% in period from 1950 to 1976. But after that the ISEW began to decline, failing by just over 12 % by 1988, the last year for which it was calculated. Simply put, about 15 years ago the net benefits associated with economic growth in USA fell bellow the growth of population, leading to a decline in individual welfare".
Very interesting recent efforts are the Human Development Index (HDI) used by UNDP. This index, measures on a scale from 0 to 1. It an aggregate of three indicators:
* Knowledge (adult literacy and mean years of schooling);
* Long life of a man (life expectancy at birth);
* Command over resources (gross domestic product per person after adjusting for purchasing power);
Quality of life indicator
Now, in the process of transformation, the society has been doubly impacted by the continued high level of consumption and the limits of natural resources. In this conditions we recognize that the quality of life includes both material objects and non-material values. In other words we must see boundary between market and non-market objects. The list of environmental qualities, spiritual and moral values related to the quality of life has never been estimated in monetary terms. This is the problem of the realisation of Human Rights. Market space limits are fixed by a complex of value estimations of investment effectiveness. Besides traditional economic techniques such as: GNP the economic damage to the environment and effective usage of natural resources should be included in the complex. This cuts investment risks. It is very important to note that the economic estimate of damage and the usage of resources in the complex have their limits. As these limits reached or neared manager need to take into account non-cost indicators, such as MEW, ISEW, IHD and other.
Nowadays managers, faced with deciding to direct funds toward environmental protection and restoration, use only economic methods of evaluation in making their decision. However, in an area in which irreversible changes have occurred, economic methods are not always effective. Using traditional indicators to evaluate the losses from the deterioration of the landscape, extinction of biological species, or the irreversible tearing away of agricultural lands for urban construction, industrial building sites etc is meaningless. In our megalopolises no nature has remained intact in the ecological system. People live in the man-made environment comprising only a few natural islets (anthropogen ecosystem). From the given isolated instances it follows that the process of development of industrial and, here and there post-industrial society, which have taken place in industrial megalopolises and industrial regions (anthropogenic ecosystems), has resulted in a change of priorities. Transition from economic needs of society to personal, environmental and psychological needs is taking place. In other words, it is possible to observe the evolution of priorities from society of consumption to a society of personal values. In fact it is possible to discuss new quality of life in sustainable development community. It is necessary to reflect this realities in the index of measure, SD. In these conditions the processes of measurement of SD should take into account in addition to traditional economic indicators and non-costs indicators, indicators which reflected new quality of life. What should be included in the indicator of quality of life (QL), which could be an estimate of the processes of SD?
Hopefully it is clear that the Quality of Life is not an equal economical indicator of the "Standard of Life" or the "Level of Life". A manager has some choices at his disposal for making decision. Many of us believe, that sustainable development is the process of limiting and optimising consumption of nature's resources. Another position, is that a future society will take the next step of the evolution. It will be possible after the transition of the society from a civilisation of consumption of natural resources to contemplate this problem. In this case we must change our main question: "How?» The new question will be: "For what?" Therefore, it is possible speak about biological and social comfort of man. Of course, in this case the decisions taken by the manager while protecting the population of the region should not damage the outskirts where the Nature still exists. Any ecological decision must contain rigid axiomatic restrictions: Comfort of the population of the anthropogenic ecosystem should not damage the Environment!
When speak about only social comfort in anthropogen ecosystem, we must recognise social indicators are the best measuring instruments. Social indexes which were fruitfully elaborated by R.Bauer, V.Brundtland, W.Nordhouse, Toffler lay special emphasis on the conditions of realisation of a personality. Dr.Vlavianos-Arvanitis has very good idea, that new indicators for these purposes must connect profit with level of pollution, education, health of people, happiness, wealth. Using these indicators, the Quality of Life becomes the focus of sustainable development problem. My position is support of this opinion. How we can define both the biological and the social comfort? That is useful discuss:
The biological comfort first of all is a fact of existing of a man. Long existing is more preferable, than short life. Also, biological comfort included health of a men. So, biological comfort is better in conditions in which people have a better chance of long life and good health. An expectation of human life (Tl) is closely connected with the state of environment, quality of water, atmospheric air, and food. Duration of human life in the QL criterion reflects the human harmony with environment.
The social comfort is a result of harmony between people and society. It ocurs when people have no problems with health and have full realisation of self, that is, they achieve their natures rights. A "space" of social comfort is free time of a man. Free time (Tf)is time not spent on work, social activity, and illness, and time needed to meet physiological necessities. Free time may be spent for the purpose of self-realisation or spiritual development of people. In American vernicular, this is "my time, my space".
As distinct from the system of indices of Brandtland and Nordhaus, we propose the integral index of quality of life (QL)
Thus QL in its quantitative form binds human rights with ecological, health, and social comfort characteristics.
Every civilisation is limited in energy, information and material resourses. We do not wish to replace the economic criterion included in the QL indexes. It should be a combination of both the traditional criteria of the economical efficiency and a measurement of the social criteria. Here is the case study using the system of indicators for measurement of SD in the processes of decision making of a new technology.
System of indicators
In general the relations between society and nature in a contemporary world can be characterised by the following three situations:
The first situation describes those territories where islets of virgin nature still remain. In this case we should focus our efforts on protection of the territory against anthrpogenous load. So far our goal will be to preserve biodiversity and secure a "reservoir" to restore it at places where it is degraded. Such territories in developed countries occupy now less than 10% of the total area.
In this case we should focus our efforts on protection of the territory against anthrpogenous load. This is a case of natural evolution. Optimally, the decision is protection territories with minimum of expense. For measure of SD it is appropriate to use traditional economics indicators.
Zi – the damage to nature;
Zp - the preventation of damage to nature.
The second situation we can observe on territories where environment is degraded due to human activity and natural processes have been disturbed. Such territories cover more than 50% of the area of developed countries. To restore natural balance we need to re-cultivate landscapes, restore flood-lands and water-meadows, to protect bogs and the most affected flora and fauna. The general problem is to reduce anthrpogenous pressure on the environment. Our goal is restoration of environment.
This is typical «mini-max sum». Optimise decide is restoration of nature with minimum of expensive. Preventation strategy will be guarantied efficiency using of all kinds of nature’s resources. After this decide quality of life will be not before of it. Non-costs index is only limit. This general strategy of SD management
Ó Rj ? max;Rj – efficiency using of «j» kind of resources;
QL1 = QL2
QL1, QL2 –quality of life before (1) and after (2) realisation of SD management action.
For the third situation irreversible transfer of environment from natural to an anthrpogenous state is characteristic. In cases where the problem of nature protection has almost lost its actuality, SD management must be oriented towards an improvement of the quality of human life. The main indicator of management in the processes of approaching to SD situation is QL . Indicators of economy here is only limits.
QL2 ? max;
QL1 = QL2 ;
Rj,1 = R j,2;
Z i,2 = Zi,1.
Z i,2 , Zi,1- the damage to nature («i» - kind of resources) before (1) and after (2) realisation of SD management action.
R j,1,R j,2 - efficiency using of «j» kind of resources before (1) and after (2) realisation of SD management action.
With help of such system we can choose in the process of SD management the best development strategy of the community. A type of environmental and economic assessment of effects of industrial processes on the environment to be chosen depending on the given state of environment. Each state of environment requires a special environmental and economic assessment scale which would reflect a real state of environment and caused impact. The environmental and economic assessment scale includes the criterion of «Quality of Life» to assess the efficiency from the viewpoint of inhabitants.
Prosperity improvement through labour force development is less then degradation of the natural environment which influences quality of life of people regardless to his/her social status.
This last conclusion tells the necessity to change the criteria of efficiency. These criteria shall reflect an absolute value of available free time rather then consumption volumes. The task of economy will be to provide conditions for contemplation or any other forms of non consuming activity.
This methods of assessment of sustainability present often figures (indexes) describing development of a society outside economy and consumption. They do not permit a general comparison of the «Quality of Life» for different countries and regions. Rather often these indexes do not correspond to those of economic development. To solve this problem we would need to define criterion significance within the environmental and economic scale and sphere of its application with respect to the system of economic and, social and economic indices. The matter is not to have this criterion as one more option of the social and economic index. But it should describe a dynamic between internal state of society, people and their spirituality and natural environment.
New quality of life
The labor force development trended toward improving of material well-being of a society. It resulted in the increasing of life length in the developed countries. The increase of life-length is a consequence of decreasing early mortality due to social work efforts. Another result of the development of industry is many kinds of pollution of the environment. This is a well known fact, the degree of contaminating of the environment is closely connected with the health of people, also of their life length. Environment pollution is one cause that will keep humans from achieving the biological limits of their life span. More over, pollution will cause a decrease in actual life expectancy in the future [ 4 ]. This is only one of many arguments to change the system of priorities in the development of a society of consumption.
The research of trends QL in several industrial regions clearly indicates that the QL drops down as people age. This thesis is illustrated at graph1, line ql1 and ql2 . The result of realization of environmental education and development of "Zero pollution industry" are illustrated on the line ql3 . As shown in diagrams ql1, ql2, ql3 , the tendency of QL to drop down as people age continues in this different situation. Unfortunately, positive economic changes in the society do not change the trends of QL.
This decline is caused by the fact that the development of labor forces during the last century was not accompanied by an increase in free time. Scientific and technological advance did not result in the cutting down of working time, too. This phenomena showed clearly in the development of both market and socialistic economies, especially in the second part of the last century. The human society chose work as a motivation in its efforts towards sustainable development. The work became a universal tool to satisfy people’s needs and requirements. Such an approach could be considered as historically justified and necessary until the society felt the limits of man’s activities. [ 3,4].
Graph 1. Several Tendencies Changing of the Quality of Life as People Age.
ql1 – Extrapolation modern industries of influence on the environment in a future;
ql2 – New technologies;
ql3 – "Zero pollution industry";
ql4 – New quality of life
An implementation of the new «Quality of Life» is an attempt to settle the conflict «individual-society». This conflict because of industrial production shaped the degradation of biosphere. The new «QL» would be feasible if priority is given to the amount of free time in people’s lives. Under this condition the absolute value of free time and its ponderability will increase in comparison to the life length. This new or future «QL» will present an increasing role of contemplation, mystic perception or any other forms of non consuming activity. It is difficult but not impossible to break the tendency of QL to decrease as people age. Please note at Graph 1, line ql4.
1. Processes of transforming industrial society to post-industrial has a transition state, which is called "Sustainable Development". This transition state needs new measurement indicators. It is necessary to reflect in this new system of indicators the priority of human rights both as economic and resource limits of civilisation. In general, SD is more than just a change in the structure of the economy. It is transition to a new quality of life for people of the community Thus, it is not enough to use only the traditional economic indicators, such as GNP.
2. A search for the new «Quality of Life» is a reflection of the deep processes of human evolution. It causes a change of evaluation criteria for global decision making. The decisions taken by top politicians and managers should be rather moral and fine than economically efficient only.
3. The new criterion of «Quality of Life» to be determinate by a presumable life length and available free time. This index is closely related with the geographic site of residence of the individual; also his demographic parameterise. I the final analysis, it describes a person and his/ her relationship with environment and society. On the other hand ,QL is a part of system of indicators that determines relationships between individuals and society.
4. The significance of shifting from consumption to contemplation is predetermined by increasing free time (ponderability) in comparison to the life length rather than by the absolute value of available free time. This is an economic sense of the future quality of life in a SD community.
1. Malakhov I.M.The Quality Of Life And The Environment.VEGA-press, Krevey Rig, 1999.-178p. (Language: Russian, res-English)
2. Constanza R., d’Arge Ralph., de Groot R.at al. The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital.- Nature* vol.387* May 1997.-p.253-260.
3. Meadows, D.L., Dynamics of Growth, London, 1974.-126p.
4. Finite World. Allen Press Inc., Cambridge, Mass, 1974.-218p.
5. Moiseev N.N. The Altgorhytms of Development, Moscow, Science-press, 1987.-304p. (language:.-Russian)
6. Brown L, Flavin C, Postel S. Saving the Planet – W.W.Norton & Company, New York London. 1991.-224p.
7. UNDP, Human Development Report/: For the Common Good. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989,-p.74-81.
8. Vlavianos-Arvanitis A. Biopolitics-The Bio-Environment Bulding a Biocentric Millenium Society./ « Biopolitics-The Bio-Environment». V.5.Athens,1998.-p.31-47.
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with
questions or comments about this web site.