Monday, February 11, 2008

A Sustainability Gap

This semester, I'm taking two courses with Australian sustainability guru Peter Newman, who famously coined the phrase "automobile dependency." I've found out about a number of exciting developments internationally that show how much progress toward real sustainability has been made. It's wonderful, but it's also distressing to me that the U.S. has given up the lead on these issues. We invented solar and wind power, and yet we lag far behind in those industries now. The integration of Japan's transit and mobile phone technology is astonishing. Australia's innovations are equally amazing. The national political dialogue has moved far past the conflict between the environment and jobs, where the U.S. dwelled for years, and even past the opportunities of environmental economics which are only just now percolating into the American political consciousness, and into a serious exploration of how a nation can achieve true lasting sustainability, with all the social responsibilities that implies.
America has been left far behind.
We have far more nuclear weapons than any other nation, along with numerous other military gadgets, and we are still on the cutting edge in some technologies, but in the critical area of how we are to continue to thrive together on this planet, America is coming up short.
I'm not worried about Japan, Australia, Denmark, Switzerland, Brazil, the UK, Canada, or even China. They get it, they're making huge progress. I'm worried about us.