Ecologically Sustainable Development

"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes"*

The "third leg" in the stool of sustainable development, that most politicians, economists, industrialists, and their policy planners seem to have dropped over the last 20 years, replacing "ecologically" with "economic" instead.

We'd do well to recall a Native American saying from more than 40 years ago, when the environmental movement really began to take root.   "When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money."*

No environment = no economy.  Make conservation of environment the primary benchmark for any human development, and innovation will naturally flow in the built (economic) environment.

Global Footprint Network "Advancing the Science of Sustainability. international nonprofit organization founded in 2003, envisions a future where all can thrive within the means of our one planet. We enable our vision through our mission: to help end ecological overshoot by making ecological limits central to decision-making." Smart, clean looking web site, with links to journel articles, case studies and educational resources, as was as oodles of tools and resources for data geeks, number crunchers, journalists, stakeholders and policy makers.

"Stern Review on the economics of climate change"  Can you believe the Stern Review was originally published in 2006?  The link originally went to the UK National Archives, but all the Executive summary and supporting documents links there, now go directly back to HM Treasury home page.  (They don't want anyone to be reminded of how badly they've mismanaged the total lack of transition).  If you want to read it, you'll have to buy it.  The best summary available for free is here at the London School of Economics and Political Science, but even their links go to the now defunct and useless archives page.

The Doomsday Clock It's been as long as 17 minutes and now in 2020, has been advanced to just 100 seconds.  In 2012 the Doomsday Clock was reset to  include the impact of climate change.  This year, the primary threats to humanity's continued existence on planet earth, are nuclear war and climate crisis.  Inaction by governments worldwide, while continued war mongering and chest beating to divert attention, wealth and resources from conservation and remediation of the planet's biosphere, has contributed to the inexoriable countdown getting closer to the dreaded 12 midnight.  (Presumably, at that point, there won't be anyone left to say "I told you so".)  The site includes a timeline going back to 1947. .... Tick Tock ...



  • Guardian Unlimited "The most destructive crop on earth is no solution to the energy crisis.  By promoting biodiesel as a substitute, we have missed the fact that it is worse than the fossil-fuel burning it replaces. George Monbiot, Tuesday December 6, 2005
  • Carbon Accounting  A useful introduction to the concept of carbonaccounting and trading in plantation and old growth forests, from Wikipedia.
  • CoastAdapt "A changing climate in coastal Australia: Build knowledge, take action.  CoastAdapt is an information delivery and decision support framework. It is for anyone with an interest in Australia's coast, the risks it faces from climate change and sea-level rise, and what can be done to respond to those risks."
  • Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (1992). So you wanna be sustainable?  Here's the checklist, with lot's of common-sense solutions.  Everything you need to consider is here, no matter what kind of development or enterprise you're contemplating.  Now in its 25th year, I wonder if we'd be up the flooded/fire ravaged creek as badly as we are now, had this strategy been fully embraced from the start.
  • The Department of Envirnment and Energy : Climate Change   "The Department designs and implements Australian Government policy and programs to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage, promote climate action, and provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy."
  • Ecosustainable "If you don't know how to fix it, stop breaking it."  Established since 1997 but not updated for a number of years, this site is now a heartbreaking archive of voices from more than 25 years ago. 
  • The Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF)  “We are a university research institute that has been creating change towards sustainable futures by conducting independent project based research for Australian and international clients since 1997. Our researchers and professional staff come from varied backgrounds, including engineering, architecture, management, economics, science, the social sciences, international studies and political studies."
  • Clean Energy Regulator "The Renewable Energy Target is an Australian Government scheme designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in the electricity sector and encourage the additional generation of electricity from sustainable and renewable sources.  ​The Clean Energy Regulator administers the Renewable Energy Target's two schemes: the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme."
  • Parliament of Australia Parliamentry Library "... is part of the Department of Parliamentary Services and provides services to senators, members, their staff, the staff of parliamentary departments and the Governor-General."
  • Urban Ecology Australia (UEA)"is a community based non profit educational association that provides information on urban ecological issues. ... working to promote and create ecologically integrated human settlements." Excellent South Australian based site with conference proceedings, papers, projects and a great links page to additional sustainable/ecofriendly resources, including EcoBuildings, EcoCities, EcoVillages and EcoPolitics.


  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists "The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists informs the public about threats to the survival and development of humanity from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences. Through an award-winning magazine, our online presence, and the Doomsday Clock, we reach policy leaders and audiences around the world with information and analysis about efforts to address the dangers and prevent catastrophe. With fellowships for students and awards to young journalists, we help educate the next generation." Home of the Doomsday Clock, the site provides in depth analysis and policy options.
  • The Guardian (UK)- Green politics A collection of Guardian reports, articles, stories and advertising features themed around green politics.
  • David Suzuki Foundation:  "We are nature. All people, and all species. We are interconnected with nature, and with each other. What we do to the planet and its living creatures, we do to ourselves. This is the fundamental truth guiding our work at the David Suzuki Foundation. Founded in 1990, the David Suzuki Foundation is a national, bilingual non-profit organization headquartered in Vancouver, with offices in Toronto and Montreal. Through evidence-based research, education and policy analysis, we work to conserve and protect the natural environment, and help create a sustainable Canada. We regularly collaborate with non-profit and community organizations, all levels of government, businesses and individuals." See also Sustainability Within a Generation
  • The International Bicycle Fund  "A non-governmental, nonprofit, advocacy organization, providing information and resources promoting sustainable transport and international understanding to make this planet a healthier and happier place to live. Major areas of activity are non-motorized urban planning, economic development, bike safety education, responsible travel and bicycle tourism, and cross-cultural, educational programs."  Old school style of web site with lots of useful resources.
  • Earth Council Alliance  "ECA aligns itself with numerous organizations as it supports and resources sustainability projects across the world to achieve its goals."
  • "The Ecology Project is ... supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and in conjunction with the Philosophy Department and the Conservation Biology Program of the University of California, Riverside. The formal title of the project is "Implications of Disequilibrium Ecology for Environmental Ethics and Policy."  An interesting paper from 1999, on the then emerging dispute between the "old-paradigm" and "new-paradigm"
  • The Airport Design Utopian.  Jim Starry's green Star Port revisited 12/06/12, by Sarah C. Rich — Architecture, Physics, Public Works, Transportation |
  • See also How to clean up your act. The Guardian Saturday November 23, 2002. "Feeling guilty about the pollution your flights cause? Environment correspondent John Vidal reveals how to do something about it." (Short of walking!)
  • International Dark-Sky Association   "To preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting." ... Light pollution is not a matter of life and death. Yet it is important nonetheless, ... It produces only glare and clutter, costing more than $1 billion annually in wasted energy in the United States alone. Reducing light pollution is not difficult, but it does require that public officials and ordinary citizens be aware of the problem and act to counter it. ..."  What can YOU DO?  Lot's!  And there's plenty of practical material on this site to ... (ahem) show you the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) "The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank championing sustainable solutions to 21st century problems. Our mission is to promote human development and environmental sustainability.  Through our research and science, IISD develops and delivers innovative solutions to some of the world's biggest challenges."
  • Man and the Biosphere "Launched in 1971, UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) is an Intergovernmental Scientific Programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for the improvement of relationships between people and their environments."
  • Rainforest Alliance  "Is your business on a sustainability journey? Thousands of companies have worked with the Rainforest Alliance since 1987, generating positive social, environmental and economic impact for over 30 years".  Check out their Training Resources
  • Overpopulation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  "Overpopulation is the condition of any organism's numbers exceeding the carrying capacity of its ecological niche. In common parlance, the term usually refers to the relationship between the human population and its environment, the Earth."
  • Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) "Formerly known as Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population, SPA is an ecological group dedicated to preserving species' habitats globally and in Australia from the degradation caused by human population growth. We work on many fronts to encourage informed public debate about how Australia and the world can achieve an ecologically sustainable population."
  • The United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) "...was held from 5-13 September 1994 in Cairo, Egypt. During this two week period world leaders, high ranking officials, representatives of non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies gathered to agree on a Programme of Action." Extensive links on the conference and related documentation.  So, how are we doing?
  • Population Connection "Founded in 1968, Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth or ZPG) is the largest grassroots population organization in the United States! We have more than 40,000 members, and hundreds of thousands more supporters and participating educators working together to build a more sustainable future for all of our planet's inhabitants. Population Connection works to ensure that every woman around the world who wants to delay or end childbearing has access to the health services and contraceptive supplies she needs in order to do so."
  • SolarAid  "Power to the people Two of the biggest threats facing humanity today are climate change and global poverty. SolarAid helps to combat both, simply by bringing clean, renewable power to the poorest people in the world." The best ideas are simply brilliant and brilliantly simple.  Great idea, great web site!
  • Sustainable Measures: "We are what we measure. It's time to measure what we want to be.  This web site is about indicators of sustainable community: ways to measure how well a community is meeting the needs and expectations of its present and future members. One of the primary goals of our site is to explain what indicators are, how indicators relate to sustainability, how to identify good indicators of sustainability, and how indicators can be used to measure progress toward building a sustainable community."  Thanks to Maureen Hart and staff for providing this well designed and comprehensive site, with lot's of valuable sustainable indicators information (in html) and links to related sites world-wide.
  • Revisiting Carrying Capacity: Area-Based Indicators of Sustainability. by William E. Rees PhD, 1996.  "Conventional wisdom suggests that because of technology and trade, human carrying capacity is infinitely expandable and therefore virtually irrelevant to demography and development planning. By contrast, this article argues that ecological carrying capacity remains the fundamental basis for demographic accounting."   Or sign up and download it from ResearchGate. Two decades on, and there is still little or no regard for carrying capacity in economic modelling.  See Global Footprint Network  above.
  • Sustainable Communities Online  "There are many definitions and there are many different ways for communities to attain a more sustainable future. The sustainability of a community depends on creating and maintaining its economic and environmental health, promoting social equity, and fostering broad-based citizen participation in planning and implementation. Communities that engage citizens and institutions to develop sustainability principles and a collective vision for the future and that apply an integrative approach to environmental, economic, and social goals are generally likely to be more successful."
  • Sustainable Development in the 21st century (SD21)" The overarching objective of the project is to construct a coherent vision of sustainable development in the 21st century, which will contribute to the success of the Rio+20 conference. The project, funded by the European Commission - Directorate-General for Environment, aims to provide a high quality analytical input to the Rio+20 conference."
  • The World Resources Institute WRI spurs progress by providing practical strategies for change and effective tools to implement them. We measure our success in the form of new policies, products, and practices that shift the ways governments work, businesses operate, and people act." Policy wonk* heaven with solid real world solutions as examples.

*Opportunities in work clothes: Henry J Kaiser. "One cannot eat money", and Policy wonk.

Grass Trees, Tweed Valley, NSW

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