Sustainability competing visions and collaborative research
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Sustainability Competing Visions and Collaborative Research. Paul B. Thompson W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics Michigan State University. Sustainability. Something that can be evaluated through factual inquiry… We could be mistaken…

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Sustainability competing visions and collaborative research

SustainabilityCompeting Visions and Collaborative Research

Paul B. Thompson

W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics

Michigan State University


Sustainability competing visions and collaborative research

Sustainability

  • Something that can be evaluated through factual inquiry…

  • We could be mistaken…

  • Sustainability can be informed by scientific research…

  • Science can help identify paths to sustainability.

  • Something to which we aspire…

  • Something we ought to achieve…

  • Lack of sustainability shows that we have a problem…

  • An unsustainable practice or world calls for change or reform.

A Moral Ideal


The emergence of an ideal

1948

The Emergence of an Ideal

1900

1950

2000

Liberty Hyde Bailey

1858-1954

“Permanence”

Ideals of progress, prosperity and perpetual peace.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.


The emergence of an ideal1

1987

The Emergence of an Ideal

Proliferation of

definitions for sustainability

and sustainable

development

1900

1950

2000

The Brundtland Commission Report:

Our Common Future

Sustainable

Development

Development that meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Emergence of “environmentalism” along with civil rights and women’s movements.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring 1962

“Sustainable Agriculture”

1970’s


The philosophy of sustainability

Economy

Society

The Philosophy of Sustainability

Profits

People

Planet

Environment

Three Circle Sustainability


A better philosophy of sustainability

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability?

Functional Integrity


A better philosophy of sustainability1

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability?

True

False

Functional Integrity


A better philosophy of sustainability2

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability

A system or practice is sustainable if the resources needed to carry it out are foreseeably available.

Resource sufficiency might be thought of as dynamic if we include the possibility that we will shift and substitute our resource use as scarcity increases or as technology changes.

Functional Integrity


A better philosophy of sustainability3

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability

A system or practice is sustainable if it is resilient or relatively invulnerable to the threat of internal collapse.

This might apply to ecosystem functions, but it might also be applied more broadly.

Functional Integrity


Game management aldo leopold s sand county almanac

Game ManagementAldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac

  • Resource Sufficiency

    Wild game populations are sustainable if there are enough individuals for hunters to shoot.

  • Functional Integrity

    Wild game populations are sustainable if the ecosystem that regulates habitat and population levels is intact.


Real estate values circa 2006

Real Estate Values circa 2006

Resource Sufficiency

Functional Integrity

Real estate values are sustainable if the home finance system is not vulnerable to structural factors that distort the incentives of lenders.

  • Real estate values are sustainable if there are enough home buyers entering the market to prevent a surplus.


The lansing catholic diocese

The Lansing Catholic Diocese

Resource Sufficiency

Functional Integrity

The Diocese is sustainable if the system for recruiting and retaining priests is adequate to populate each parish.

  • The Diocese is sustainable if there are enough Catholics foreseeably available to continue to populate all of the churches.


Biomass electrical generation

Biomass Electrical Generation

Resource Sufficiency

Functional Integrity

Biomass plants are sustainable if they do not pose (or re-impose) threats to processes that stabilize climate and air quality or to regeneration of markets for regional income from tourism.

  • Biomass fueled plants are sustainable so long they comply with regs and there is enough wood waste (or other biomass) to fire the plants.

The Main Point:

This is not just the economy/environment thing over again

A Secondary Point:

While the underlying mechanisms are related, FI calls attention to the value (importance) of systemic interactions.


A better philosophy of sustainability4

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability?

A system or practice is unsustainable if it is generating acts of resistance, protest and political change.

Sustainability is conceptually linked to social justice, fairness and recognition.

Functional Integrity


A better philosophy of sustainability5

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

A Better Philosophy of Sustainability?

A system or practice is unsustainable if it is generating acts of resistance, protest and political change.

Sustainability is conceptually linked to social justice, fairness and recognition.

Functional Integrity


Sustainability and the sciences

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

Sustainability and the Sciences

Functional Integrity


Sustainability as resource sufficiency

Sustainability as Resource Sufficiency

Brundtland Era

Sustainability

  • Grounded in

  • Economic

  • Development

  • Theory

  • just/fair savings

  • -growth theory

  • -discounting

  • -measurement

Production

Economics

-input/output

-supply chain

modeling

Basic

Accounting

-life cycle

analysis

-resource

depletion

& renewal

“External costs”

-toxicology

-pollution

-ecosystem

services


Sustainability as functional integrity

Sustainability as Functional Integrity

  • Grounded in

  • Ecology

  • sustainable yield

  • -resilience

  • -ecological

  • Integrity

  • -functionalist

  • social science

Humans as

Stressors

-Pollution

-Life cycle analysis

-Production

economics

Policy

Science

-market

failure

-regulation

-incentives

System Resilience and

Reproducibility


Sustainability as a social movement

Sustainability as a Social Movement

Basic Problems:

Injustice

Lack of Recognition

Imbalance of Power

Unsustainability

rooted in social

conflict.

Economic and

ecological

approaches

omit key goals

Sustainability is a banner that can promote human rights and environmental concern.


Sustainability and interdisciplinarity

Resource Sufficiency

Social Movement

Sustainability and Interdisciplinarity

Values/Emphasis Individual vs. System

Local vs. Global

Short vs. Long Term

1. If sustainability just is whatever the move-ment says it is, what’s the role for science?

Use of common indicators, metrics or methods can both obscure differences and facilitate collaboration.

2. If sustainability is owned by a social movement, won’t someone have to be opposed to it?

Functional Integrity

Theorizing sustainability as a social movement legitimizes those who are “against” sustainability.


Sustainability ethics and technology

Sustainability, Ethics and Technology

Technology is good when it increases the efficiency of a production process or a consumption activity, or when it substitutes plentiful for scarce resources.

It is bad when it increases total resource consumption.

The Ethical Maxim:

Find the optimal

ratio between

benefit and risk.

Functional Integrity


Sustainability ethics and technology1

Sustainability, Ethics and Technology

Technology should not introduce fragility or brittleness into the system.

It should not create new sources of vulnerability.

The Precautionary

Approach:

Lack of full scientific

certainty about risks

should not preclude

taking precautionary

measures.

Functional Integrity


Sustainability ethics and technology2

Sustainability, Ethics and Technology

Enough

for whom?

How is the

system

defined?

Technology is good when it levels power relationships.

It is bad when it strengthens or entrenches power relationships.

Functional Integrity


A technology case study integrated biosensors

A Technology Case StudyIntegrated Biosensors


An application animal disease

An Application:Animal Disease

Responding to animal disease imposes costs in livestock production that have effects on resource use.

Use of prophylactic antibiotic dosing threatens the integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

Animal disease vectors have huge impacts on both human and animal health. Diseases such as HIV, avian flu, West Nile Virus and Ebola are cases in point.


Animal disease resource sufficiency

Animal Disease:Resource Sufficiency

Responding to animal disease imposes costs in livestock production that have effects on resource use.

Use of prophylactic antibiotic dosing threatens the integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

Animal disease vectors have huge impacts on both human and animal health. Diseases such as HIV, avian flu, West Nile Virus and Ebola are cases in point.

Greater efficiencies in animal production mean less feed and fewer animals, which means less water and less energy. In short, efficiency means greater resource sufficiency.


Animal disease functional integrity

Animal Disease:Functional Integrity

Responding to animal disease imposes costs in livestock production that have effects on resource use.

Use of prophylactic antibiotic dosing threatens the integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

Animal disease vectors have huge impacts on both human and animal health. Diseases such as HIV, avian flu, West Nile Virus and Ebola are cases in point.

An enhanced ability to monitor and track disease on a real-time basis eliminates the need for prophylactic use of antibiotics.

Removing antibiotic use is good for wildlife and helps limit microbial resistance to antibiotics.


Animal disease power issues

Animal Disease:Power Issues

Responding to animal disease imposes costs in livestock production that have effects on resource use.

Use of prophylactic antibiotic dosing threatens the integrity of aquatic ecosystems.

Animal disease vectors have huge impacts on both human and animal health. Diseases such as HIV, avian flu, West Nile Virus and Ebola are cases in point.

A good

thing...


Animal disease power issues1

Animal Disease:Power Issues

A good

thing?


What have we done

What Have We Done?

  • Traced the evolution of sustainability as an idea…

  • Offered a “typology” with three different ways to understand sustainability as a philosophical ideal…

  • Discussed links between each type and the sciences…

  • Examined the example of biosensors…


Sustainability competing visions and collaborative research

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