Letter: Sustainable now means ‘better than it used to be’
December 6, 2018
We live on a "Goldilocks" planet. Things can't be too hot or too cold, everything must be just right. Who knew? What is the big deal about a temperature degree or two? Turns out it is the difference between life and death. Ordinary people, who have lived comfortably for years, are suddenly burned to death, drowned or blown away. That is terrible enough, but the costs in property and infrastructure are going to run into the many trillions. Just trying to prevent some of this damage will cost a fortune. Cities are talking about seawalls. Whole communities will have to relocate. The president says we need to rake the forests to prevent these serious fires. Who will do that; immigrants? What would that cost for millions of acres?
What's causing this? Too much heat. Why? Carbon dioxide and other gases are collecting high in the atmosphere and are acting like glass in a greenhouse that is reflecting too much heat back to the surface. This concept has been known for many decades. What causes all this CO2? Us; all 7.7 billion of us. Virtually everything we do produces CO2. Every second we are pouring vast amounts more CO2 into the air. This is like sitting in a closed garage with the car running.
There is no plan to fix this. There are meetings going on all over at all levels talking about all kinds of solutions. In this case, it's not the thought that counts. The most misused and misunderstood word today is "sustainable."
What sustainable has come to mean is "better than it used to be." Sustainable construction meets whatever current building codes are in use. But the bottom line is that new buildings will still pour out emissions for as long as they stand. The car is still running in the garage.
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