Sustainability vs. conservation

Sustainability vs. conservation

A reasonable approach

The big debate of the Green movement focuses on how we should approach ecology, climate change, pollution…?

So far the green movement is made up of  ‘militants’ who agree on issues and disagree on solutions. I believe there has been little achieved due to the essence of debate remaining polarised.

While conservationists will focus on preventing a tree from being cut, those morel aligned with sustainability will support  the tree being cut as long as it is replaced.

I believe that sustainability is the only viable approach in the long term. When we look at our natural world it has undergone significant change.  Interestingly not all was made made.  After all humans can’t be blamed for everything that happened on earth, just consider the extinction of Dinosaurs!

Conservation starts with the idea that ‘human alterations’ are bad. While in some circumstances it can certainly be  true, it is not necessarily always  the case.  Nature operates in cycles death is part of that cycle just as is renewal.

Conservation is not a bad principle per se.  It is  particularly useful when we consider Arts and Culture, and the value of preservation.

Sustainability assumes that humans will try their best to limit their foot print. We must adopt a goal where we waste as little as possible or even generate more with taking less. When we apply a mathematical approach to the  summary of our impact it could look like this:

What we take from the Nature = What we generate + What we consume + What we recycle + What we waste.

This equation could be made complementary with conservation:

Our current  Natural Environment  + What we take from Nature = What we generate + What we consume + What we recycle + What we waste + What we regenerate + What we preserve.

As we understand we can’t really change the forces of Nature, we must aim to improve all other factors in the equation. As you can see, I am not for a carbon tax, as it is meaningless. It is an economic expression that, although raising government’s income, brings absolutely no solution for our environment and its future.

It also should be noted that the debate over climate change is non sense. As a society, we need toprepare to face any circumstances. Emergency services don’t exist because we create accidents but because we acknowledge they can happen. As a result we face 2 options. Whether climate change is a reality and we must deal with it. Or it might be false… however we’d better prepare in case it is real.

So back to the equation. As a society we need to  work at producing recyclable goods while minimising waste during consumption.

We need to focus on finding ways to recycle as close to 100% as possible and minimise waste to 0%.

Let’s compensate our excessive production of CO2 by regenerating and capturing more of it.

We must also realise that, by doing so, we can easily improve what we preserve. Hence, conservation is a consequence of limiting our consumption

When we think about regeneration and life cycles, it is important to acknowledge we will not be able to regenerate petrol during our lifetime. We can however regenerate parts of our environment with life cycles comparable to humans, eg trees and native grasslands and in some cases species facing extinction.

We can be smart and invest in science, research and development rather than subsidies to industries with very limited life spans.

In brief

Conservation and Sustainability are 2 main streams, polarised by the Greens, regarding how we approach our environment and its future.


Conservation opposes Sustainability

Taxing doesn’t solve environmental issues

Pollution, climate change are potential high risks

Responsibility of recyclability to be embedded in design 

We can work on the right factors for a better and sustainable environment

Sustainability works towards conservation