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Sustainability and Slag
    4th May 2007

 Glenn Albrecht PhD
Discovering Sustainability


         Main Street Goa India (2005)
                                        Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Defining what is not sustainable
Responses to non-sustainability
   Business as usual
   The implications
Defining what is sustainable
   WCED model?
   Balance model?
   Nested model?
Genuine Sustainability and Industry
   Industrial ecology

                                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Non Sustainability or Old Business As Usual

 Deny the existence of limits to growth
 Employ „skeptics‟ to undermine actual
 knowledge about reality
 Employ spin doctors to massage „perceptions‟
 Focus on the single bottom line while giving lip
 service to the triple bottom line
 Test the limits of corporate ethics and
 responsibilities (ENRON, HIH, AWB!)
 Sustain profits!
                                     Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Reality Hits Business As Usual

                      Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
   Global Cumulative Emissions
450-550 ppm for tipping points and extreme change?

                                                   380 ppm now!

 Cape Grim Tasmania
                      2%+ increase per annum = 2040 for 450 ppm

                                                      Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
          Global Warming Data
2005 hottest year on record ( 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 , 2006 in top 10)


                    2003 Northern summer: 20,000 – 35,000 excess deaths due to heat stress in one month in France

                                                                                 Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
              450                              Danger Level
              350                              Now
   C02 ppm    200
               50                              C02 increasing at
                0                              +2ppm per annum
                     Pre 1950 2000 2050 2100



Surface Air

                    1900     2000      2100
             Per Person Responsibility

Tonnes          6
carbon per





                    USA   Australia   Developed   Japan   Developing   China
                                       Country                                  India

                                                                               Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
     Arctic Sea Ice melt thirty years ahead of
                           schedule (2007 Study)

                                                       The study indicates that,
                                                       because of the disparity
                                                       between the computer
                                                       models and actual
                                                       observations, the shrinking
                                                       of summertime ice is about
                                                       30 years ahead of the
                                                       climate model projections.
                                                       As a result, the Arctic could
                                                       be seasonally free of sea
                                                       ice earlier than the IPCC-
                                                       projected timeframe of any
                                                       time from 2050 to well
                                                       beyond 2100.
                                                                      Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

 Its not just the climate!

 Approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem
 services that support life on Earth – such as
 fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water
 regulation, and the regulation of regional
 climate, natural hazards and pests – are being
 degraded or used unsustainably.

                                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Peak Oil



                 Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
       Impossible Growth
Total reliance on finite energy resources
such as oil and coal
The finite capacity of environmental sinks
for assimilating our wastes is being
Many aspects of the global industrial
system appear to be attempting the
physically impossible, that is:
    infinite growth in a finite system

                               Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
      Failure of Economics
Traditional economic bookkeeping has not
alerted us to the extent of the negative impact of
the human sub-system on the ecological and
climatic health of the planet.
The materials and entropy (energy) bookkeeping
that explains the persistence of natural,
biological systems has yet to be fully applied to
industrial and social systems
The obvious need to seek a sustainable
foundation for society and its economy
                                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Seeking Sustainability
    Year               Source                                      Statement
  1962          Rachel Carson,        “The public must decide whether it wishes to continue on the
                Silent Spring         present road, and it can do so only when it is in full possession
                                      of the facts. In the words of Jean Rostand, The obligation to
                                      endure gives us the right to k now.”
  1969          Organisation of       Cons ervation … “needed to achieve the highest sustainable
                African Unity         quality of life”
  1972          The Ecologist         “Our industrial way of life with its ethos of expansion is not
                                      „sustainable‟. The rat es of growth in population and
                                      consumption are undermining human survival prospects by
                                      disrupting ecosystems and depleting resources ”
  1972          UN Conference on      There is a right of … “humanity to a healthy and productive
                the Human             environment”
                Environment at
  1980          World                 Sustainable Development is … “ the management of the
                Cons ervation         human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest
                Strategy              sustainable benefit to present generations while maint aining its
                                      potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future
  1987          UN Commission on      Sustainable development is … “development that meets the
                Environment and       needs of the pres ent, without compromising the ability of future
                Development           generations to meet their own needs”
  1992          Australian National   Ecologically Sustainable Development is… “using, conserving
                Government            and enhancing the community‟s resources so that ecological
                                      processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the
                                      total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased”
  1992          UNCED, the Earth      The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and
                Summit Rio de         Agenda 21, the program to deliver the 27 principles of S D.
                Janeiro Brazil
  1997          Rio + 5 New York      “ … we are deeply concerned that the overall trends for
                                      sustainable development are worse today than they were in
                                      1992.” (UN 1 July 1997)
  2002          Rio + 10              “ At its core Johannesburg is about the relationship between
                Johannesburg          human society and the natural environment” (UN Secretary-
                                      General Kofi Annan 14 May 2002)

  Glenn Albrecht 2002

                                                                                              Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007

      “Sustainable development is
        development that meets the
        needs of the present without
         compromising the ability of
         future generations to meet
          their own needs “ (WCED

                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
  Economic Views on Sustainability

The World Commission on Environment
and Development (WCED) produced Our
Common Future in 1987
Our Common Future could be considered
a „conservative‟ and anthropocentric
approach to the issue of sustainability
There is a strong emphasis on the role of
economic growth in achieving
sustainable development

                              Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
 The WCED Model?

Ecology             Society


                              Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
      The Balance Model

Society              Economy



                           Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
      The „Balance‟ Model
All components of sustainability of equal
But hang on … economy is part of society
Economy + Society trump Ecology
All that is sustained is the economy
A guarantee that non-sustainability will

                             Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
       The Laws of Ecology
1. Everything is connected to everything
2. Everything must go somewhere
3. Nature knows best
4. There is no such thing as a free lunch

     Barry Commoner 1971
                                Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
                 Nested Relationships Model



After Ian Lowe
                                        Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Ecologically Sustainable

                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
           5 Principles of ESD
1. The conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem
   integrity/health should be a fundamental consideration
   in decision-making (interspecies equity)
2. We should always provide for equity within generations
   (intragenerational equity)
3. We should always provide for equity between
   generations (intergenerational equity)
4. If there are threats of serious or irreversible
   environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty
   should not be used as a reason for postponing
   measures to prevent environmental degradation (the
   precautionary principle)
5. Always recognize the global dimension of our actions
                                          Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Larson on Interspecies Inequity!

                       Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
 How Do We Apply the Principles?

Interrogate a development proposal by
requiring answers to each and every
Community participation in decision-
making a key element of ESD
If answers are positive with respect to
each and every principle then the proposal
is sustainable
If not then revision or rejection
                              Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
A Coal Fired Power Station?

                    Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
A Nuclear Power Plant?

                 Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
A Wind Farm?

               Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
Glenn Albrecht 2007
                      Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
The New Industrial Revolution
A need to apply the principles of sustainability to
all forms of industrial activity
Included in this is the need for industrial systems
to eliminate all forms of waste (not just C0 )    2

Industrial systems must be symbiotically
connected to societies and ecosystems
Corporations who move in this direction will be
internationally competitive while at the same
time acting in ways that are socially and
environmentally responsible.

                                    Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
         Industrial Ecology
The term Industrial Ecology has been coined to
describe the symbiotic interrelationships that can
occur between the elements of industrial
An industrial complex which is modelled on
natural systems will have a similar flow of
resources, materials and energy where
ultimately waste is completely eliminated as an
end-product that can be described as "pollution".

                                   Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
The Kalundborg Network (from Tibbs)

                          Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
  Greenwash or Revolution?
There is a fear that some industries will simply
use the rhetoric of eco-industrialism to
"greenwash" or hide the reality of most industrial
production, that of unsustainable growth in
production and toxic waste.
This potential for abuse of the ideas of industrial
ecology need to be weighed up against the
benefits that will accrue socially and
environmentally if humans can come close to
mimicking natural systems in the design of their
industrial systems.

                                    Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
       Conclusion (mild)

Sustainability and sustainable development
(ESD) have now become terms that are used
universally in relation to the need to
renegotiate the human-nature relationship
Sustainable development has become central
to the core business of industry, government,
and education
This makes it one of the master concepts of
the early twenty-first century

                                Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007
          Conclusion (strong)
  The New Sustainability?
  Climate chaos is driving a revival of
  sustainability thinking
  The post-combustion economy?
  A challenge bigger than any before in human
  The bottom line is the health of the earth
  To sustain is to „endure‟ and „bear the burden‟

…Is the construction industry up to this challenge?
                                     Glenn Albrecht PhD 2007

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