Department of Environmental Sciences
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Seminar Abstracts
Environmental Sciences Seminar Abstract            

  A PATH TO SUSTAINABILITY: THE NEED FOR PARADIGM SHIFTS
Michael C Trachtenberg
Greenhouse Gas Industries

The vagaries of supply, coupled with the ever-growing increase in demand, were evident as soon as humans expanded beyond small tribal cultures. The overall approach to sustainability has been, and continues to be, to increase supply and decrease population, an idea that emerged 2,500 years ago and remains a major focus. In contrast, affluence (prosperity) is presented as a more potent driver of resource use and CO2-footprint. The many candidate approaches to sustainability differ due to the inherent personality traits of their promoters, which are then rationalized, i.e., normative values reflect personality; thus they will remain in conflict.

Four different sustainability motifs have evolved over the last 5,000 years. I have termed them pre-industrial, industrial, and post-industrial; the fourth, post-Darwinian, is just beginning. The last is coupled with a change in understanding of the basic economic operator, a move from Homo economicus to Homo neurobiologicus, which is attributable to new understandings of behavior as an expression of biology. The post-Darwinian motifs will lead to a new paradigm with the potential for greater prosperity coupled with increased consideration for ecosystems.


Last updated: 09/20/2012