Why Sustainability does not work

Sustainability, in simple terms, is about using resources in such a way that you only take what you need and give back what you take, resulting in a ‘balance’. Does this work in today’s context? No. Net-zero is just a buzzword, not the real solution.

The current world population is 7.6 billion and it is expected to become 9 billion by 2050. The population in 1900 was 1.6 billion. At this rate, we need more resources for the future and merely sustaining the current resources is not enough.

Last year, the Earth Overshoot day was on 22nd August 2020. This day marks the day when human beings use an amount of ecological resources exceeding what the Earth can regenerate in that year. Hence, even considering that the population is going to be the same, our resources are dying out at a crazy rate. So, doesn’t it make more sense to create more resources?

When all of nature is constantly regenerating, why is man so proud of being a ‘net-zero’. Net-zero is just ‘less bad’ compared to net-negative. It is not a net-positive.

  1. When the idea of being eco-conscious has not set into many human brains, the ones who actually care need to work need to work smarter. ‘Smart cities’ cannot afford to be just sustainable – they need to generate resources, water and energy.

As an aspiring urban designer, I imagine cities that create it’s own food, water, fresh air, energy and absorbs carbon like a forest. Can we rethink our cities? Am I dreaming too much?

Speaking on a global level, when countries like USA, China, India, Russia, etc. produce very high levels of carbon, smaller countries like Bhutan (a carbon positive country), being closer to the glaciers, face the impact of these extra carbon emissions. Is this fair?

As an architect, I constantly strive to become better than what I used to be. I was blindly obsessed with the idea of sustainability too, until I finally happened to question it. Is it really the solution? Reading up more and researching more has changed me. I am currently doing research on regenerative architecture for a farmhouse design in Palakkad, Kerala. I hope to achieve my goal on a small scale, and then learn to implement it on a larger scale as well.

I hope this short article helps you to make your work better and more responsible. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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