September 2012 Archives
Editor's note: Catch future installments of Frontiers on the Environment Wednesdays at noon Central Time live in St. Paul or online.
"Sustainable Development: What Would Aristotle Do?" The intriguing lecture and conversation that launched the Institute on the Environment's Fall 2012 "Frontiers" lecture series last Wednesday tied together the two subjects of sustainability and philosophy. Presented by IonE's own John Sheehan, the presentation addressed the question: "How and where do these two worlds intersect?"
In his 30-minute talk, Sheehan explains that we will come closer to concrete answers by simply starting a conversation. In his words, a dialogue that reaches out into the ethical places of impasse in our society will uncover exactly where the misunderstanding lies. When all parties start to talk, listen and learn, the hope becomes that an uncovering of an impasse will some day lead to resolution.
Every summer, when I visit my boreal field plots, I cross fingers that we don't chain saw through a nest of bees when we sample rotting logs for our log decomposition studies. They say athletes can slow their perception of time. The same can be said of the moment when bees boil out of a freshly cut log and you process what is about to happen. It is slow motion prior to the appropriate reaction, which in this case is simple: Run. Run fast and hope your collaborators are slower than you.
Several reports estimate that we need to double current crop production by 2050 in order to meet the needs of a growing population that eats more meat and uses more crops for fuel. Some strategies - like reducing waste and reducing meat consumption - would reduce pressure on our land and water resources and free up more food calories that are potentially available. But we commonly assume that increasing crop production will come at a cost of increased environmental damages to our climate, water and natural habitat. It turns out that does not have to be the case.