Sustainocene

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The Sustainocene requires governance supporting interdependence of ecology, society and economy.

Sustainocene is the name given to a public policy concept involving planning for a future epoch where humanity becomes the environmental steward when transitioning from the current Anthropocene to the Sustainocene. A consistent focus on both environmental and developmental sustainability is the key social virtue of this epoch.[1]

Definition

The name Sustainocene was coined by Bryan Furnass, in his paper "From Anthropocene to Sustainocene – challenges and opportunities". According to Furnass the Sustainocene would transition to a low carbon economy with the help of sustainable and ethical governance, supporting interdependence of ecology, society and economy in order to reach a planetary steady state.[2][3]

Canberra Eco-Physician Bryan Furnass who created the concept of a Sustainocene

Characteristics

Bryan Furnass outlined main points to reach environmental sustainability, as he calls it "a post carbon world", because of air pollution, biodiversity lose and global warming. He proposed energy generation with renewable energy sources. Rail transportation rather than by road, ships which make more use of wind, hybrid cars, fuel cells, biofuels from algae and crop wastes.[2][3] He also suggests to switch to organic agriculture with local food production and to implement more equality when accessing health resources and puts an emphasis on more healthy lifestyles. The scope of the broad transition is the adaptation and more resilience to climate change.

The concept of the Sustainocene has been developed by other academics (such as Thomas Alured Faunce and Daniel Nocera) to refer to a public policy concept requiring planning for a future epoch of over a billion years where policy and governance structures, as well as science, technology and ethics, coordinate to achieve the social virtues of ecological sustainability and environmental integrity as influentially propounded by eco-economists such as EF Schumacher (with his concept of "small (and local) is beautiful") and Kenneth Boulding (with his idea of "Spaceship Earth" as a closed economy requiring recycling of resources), as well as Herman Daly with his notion of "steady state" economies drawing upon the laws of thermodynamics and the tendency of the universe to greater entropy (dispersal of energy).[1] The length of the Sustainocene has been suggested to be over a billion years to correspond with the legacy that life has given humans to this point and that species moral obligation to reciprocate with its stewardship and use technology to provide for its own needs[4][5] and so pave the way to according Rights of Nature within a conception of planetary medicine [6] It has been argued that transition to the Sustainocene requires a concerted approach rather than piecemeal actions to support ecosystem resilience.[7]

Energy generation

Artificial photosynthesis

Ideas to assist the transition to the Sustainocene include the rapid global deployment of help of artificial photosynthesis technology to produce hydrogen from using sunlight to split water while absorbing atmospheric nitrogen (for use as a fertiliser or to combine with hydrogen to make ammonia fuel) or absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide to make starch, these fuels can also be used in fuel cells to generate electricity.[8] It has been argued that in the Sustainocene, human structures (such as roads, buildings and vehicles) will cease "bludging" off ecosystems and "pay their own way" by incorporating artificial photosynthesis which will take pressure off humanity's economic need to over-exploit natural photosynthesis. This concept involves all human structures using sunlight to split water as a source of hydrogen (which when burnt as a fuel produces water) and to absorb carbon dioxide and use it to make food or fertilizer. One of the reasons for focusing on this as the main energy supply of the Sustainocene is that more solar energy strikes the Earth's surface in one hour of each day than the energy used by all human activities in one year.[9][10] Arguably, there is a simple public policy message at the core of a vision such as that of the Sustainocene. "It involves telling people that nanotechnology will be used to make buildings function like trees. A device that can do this and is available to cheap purchase and installation, like the mobile phone or internet, by providing decentralised power equitably could rapidly transform society to one that is more community and values-oriented."[11]

Connection to energy and climate change policy

Since the Anthropocene marks the evidence and the extent of human impact on the environment that have had a significant global impact on the Earth's ecosystems many studies outlined the problems and looked for solutions. The concept of an epoch with more environmental stewardship was raised with considerable public attention by The Club of Rome in 1972 with its report The Limits to Growth. The United Nations World Charter for Nature from 1982 raised five principles of conservation by which human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report outlines current knowledge about scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, and lists options for adaptation and mitigation.[12]

It has been argued that in the Sustainocene, "instead of the cargo-cult ideology of perpetual economic growth through corporate pillage of nature, globalised artificial photosynthesis will facilitate a steady state economy and further technological revolutions such as domestic nano-factories and e-democratic input to local communal and global governance structures. In such a world, humans will no longer feel economically threatened, but rather proud, that their moral growth has allowed them to uphold rights of nature."[13]

See also

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Faunce, T 2012, 'Towards a global solar fuels project - Artificial photosynthesis and the transition from anthropocene to sustainocene', Procedia Engineering, vol. 49, no. 2012, pp. 348-356.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Furnass, Bryan (March 21, 2012). From Anthropocene to Sustainocene – challenges and opportunities. Australian National University. http://www.anu.edu.au/emeritus/events/docs/From_Anthropocene_to_Sustainocene_text_only_150512.pdf. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Furnass, Bryan (March 21, 2012). "Slideshow: Anthropocene to Sustainocene. Challenges and Opportunities". Australian National University. http://dea.org.au/images/general/Sustainocene_Furnass_(wth_text)_150512.ppt. Retrieved April 7, 2014. 
  4. World Future Society. Powering the World with Artificial Photosynthesis. The Futurist 2013; 47(3). http://www.wfs.org/futurist/2013-issues-futurist/may-june-2013-vol-47-no-3/powering-world-artificial-photosynthesis (accessed 21 April 2013)
  5. Daniel Nocera. Sustainocene. Harvard Leads a New Epoch for Humankind http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P232xezhRZg (accessed 21 April 2013)
  6. Vines T, Bruce A, Faunce TA. “Planetary Medicine and the Waitangi Tribunal Whanganui River Report: Global Health Law Embracing Ecosystems as Patients.” Journal of Law and Medicine 2013; 20: 528-541 http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2235935 (accessed 21 April 2013)
  7. Ranganatham J, Irwin F. World Resources Institute. Letter. The Economist June 9, 2011 http://www.economist.com/node/18803255/print?story_id=18803255 (accessed 24 June 2013)
  8. Thomas Faunce (July 4, 2012). "Towards a Global Solar Fuels Project-Artificial Photosynthesis and the Transition from Anthropocene to Sustainocene". Procedia Engineering 49 ( 2012 ) 348-356 (Australian National University; Australian Research Council). http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2258847. 
  9. Faunce TA. Nanotechnology for a Sustainable World. Global Artificial Photosynthesis as the Moral Culmination of Nanotechnology. Edward Elgar 2012.
  10. Faunce TA Global Artificial Photosynthesis. ANU Public Lecture 19 September 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ8qFS0kcbU (accessed 21 April 2013)
  11. Tom Faunce Towards a Global Solar Fuels Project - Governance and Scientific Challenges. Energy Futures Lab. Imperial College London 30 April 2012 http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/administration/energyfutureslab/eventssummary/event_3-4-2012-16-7-18 (accessed 9 April 2014)
  12. IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (2014) (PDF). Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Geneva (Switzerland): IPCC. http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/IPCC_WG2AR5_SPM_Approved.pdf. 
  13. Thomas Faunce. 'Artificial Photosynthesis Could Extend Rights to Nature. The Conversation 2 July 2013. https://theconversation.com/artificial-photosynthesis-could-extend-rights-to-nature-15380

External links