Building Blocks for a Sustainable World:
CREDIT: Dennis Doyle

To mark Earth Day 2012, we present a selection of our resources from the past year.

They cover a wide spectrum, including exploring what it means to be sustainable; some practical solutions; the role of legislation; and finally, what we can learn from novelists' visions of a climate-changed world.

We hope you find these ideas thought-provoking. Do any of them inspire you? What do you agree with or disagree with? We look forward to your comments.



The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources

Michael T. Klare, Five Colleges, Inc.
As we run out of resources, the human race is at a pivotal point. We have two options: We can continue along the same path, leading to much of the planet becoming uninhabitable. Or we can create an alternative future where we use resources in a much more sustainable and frugal way.
(Public Affairs, March 2012, video, audio, transcript)

Don't Build Keystone XL, the Pipeline to Nowhere
Evan O'Neil, Carnegie Council
Higher gas prices, negligible energy security, more global warming: The logic stacks up against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
(Policy Innovations article, August 2011)



What are the Limitations and Benefits of the Sustainability Approach?
J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas; Ronald Sandler, Northeastern University; Dale Jamieson, New York University; Christopher Schlottmann, New York University; David Schlosberg, University of Sydney
Is sustainability the only, or even the most desirable, framework for environmental issues? What are the limitations and benefits of the sustainability approach, and what kind of alternative conceptual approaches may be preferable? What do you think?
(September Sustainability Month Roundtable, September 2011)

The Population and Sustainability Debate
Robert Engelman, Worldwatch Institute; John Bongaarts, Population Council; Steven Sinding, Abt Associates; Laurie Mazur, Population Justice Project; Barbara Crossette, The Nation; Betsy Hartmann, Hampshire College; Lisa Hymas, Grist; Mara Hvistendahl, Science
According to UN projections, our world will be home to more than 9 billion people by 2050, increasing competition for livable space and critical resources such as water. What ethical standards should guide the debate about reproduction and sustainability? What do you think?
(September Sustainability Month Roundtable, September 2011)

What Individuals Can Do
Bill McKibben,; David Biello, Scientific American; Josh Lasky, University of the District of Columbia; Mat McDermott,; Christopher Mims, Technology Review, Grist; Paul Steely White, Transportation Alternatives; Eric Zencey, Author
What is the most important thing a person can do to have a sustainable impact? From consumer purchases to political action, how should we prioritize solutions?
(September Sustainability Month Roundtable, September 2011)


Prize-winning Essays from Carnegie Council's Annual Contest, "Making a Difference"

Sustainability Starts with Me
Akrish Adhikari, Rato Bangala School, Nepal
"It is through our actions and our efforts, where large or small, that we can bring about a change in the attitudes of those around us in ensuring sustainability."
(Ist Prize High School Category)

The Intrinsic Value of the Environment
Anil Sebastian Pulickel, National Law School of India University, Bangalore
"Our conventional understanding of sustainability usually puts human needs first. What is needed is a balancing test that will consider a wider range of factors, and that encompasses the intrinsic value of the environment, regardless of any practical benefits to human beings."
(1st Prize Undergraduate Category)

We Are all Connected
Chenaz B. Seelarbokus, Kennesaw State University
"My students are always shocked to realize that the global environment is one interconnected system. We have only one ocean mass, one land, and one atmosphere. For sustainability to prevail, this interconnectedness needs to be understood and experienced at all levels of society."
(1st Prize Postgraduate and Teacher Category)



But Will the Planet Notice?: How Smart Economics Can Save the World
Gernot Wagner, Environmental Defense Fund
You recycle? You turn down plastic and paper? Good. But none of that will save the tuna or stop global warming. If you want to make the planet notice, follow the economics, says Gernot Wagner.
(Public Affairs Program, October 2011, video, audio, transcript)



The Green Workplace and Human Behavior
Leigh Stringer, Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum (HOK)
Architect and sustainability expert Leigh Stringer is convinced that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green buildings are only a piece of the puzzle when designing a sustainable office. She argues that a crucial component is human behavior.
(Just Business, May 2011, audio, transcript)

Mindy S. Lubber: Working with Companies to Address Sustainability Challenges
Mindy S. Lubber, Ceres
Even though U.S. public policies are often lagging behind, pressures from shareholders and investors, greater transparency, and heightened risk awareness are all contributing to a new focus on sustainability for many companies, says Mindy Lubber.
(Just Business, May 2011, audio, transcript)

Going Green: Initiatives in the Workplace
Michael Ellis, GreenOrder
Michael Ellis, from the sustainability consulting firm GreenOrder, discusses how companies can work with employees to make sure they're onboard with green initiatives—and why that's such an important part of green workplaces.
(Just Business, April 2011, audio, transcript)



Leif Wenar on Natural Resources and Clean Trade Policies
Leif Wenar, King's College London
Consumers in countries that import natural resources are often unwittingly in business with dictators, corrupt officials, and armed groups, says Leif Wenar. Yet we could change our laws to make powerful groups in exporting countries more accountable to their own people.
(Ethics & International Affairs Audio Interviews, April 2011, audio, transcript)

Legislating Transparency in the Extractive Sector: Will the Securities and Exchange Commission Take the Lead?
Kathryn M. Martorana, Oxfam, Carnegie New Leader
The SEC has an opportunity to demonstrate that the United States takes transparency and accountability seriously and intends to act as a global leader in fostering secure, equitable, long-term resource partnerships with developing nations.
(Policy Innovations article, July 2011)

Global Ethics Corner: Was Durban Doomed?
Marlene Spoerri, Carnegie Council
With the 17th annual global climate change talks foundering in Durban, little hope is left for a worldwide initiative designed to combat global warming. Are global initiatives a thing of the past? Or are they our only hope for future sustainability?
(Global Ethics Corner, December 2011)



Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technologies
Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic
Author Alexis Madrigal examines the history of green technologies in America and shows how they have been entangled with culture, ethics, and government policies.
(Just Business, April 2011, audio, transcript)



A Look at Global Sustainability, with a Focus on China
Ma Jun, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs; and Evan O'Neil, Madeleine Lynn, Julia Taylor Kennedy, Carnegie Council
Carnegie Council's Evan O'Neil ponders the future of mega-cities, and leading Chinese environmentalist Ma Jun discusses China's air and water crisis and the work of his watchdog group, the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, which names and shames the worst polluters.
(Just Business, November 2011, audio, transcript)



Fruits of Our Labor
Raji Ajwani-Ramchandani, Symbiosis Centre for Management and Human Resource Development
Through patient cultivation of organic permaculture mango orchards, Adivasi families in India have been able to build sustainable income and connect to the larger processed food markets.
(Policy Innovations article, March 2012)

Happy Park(ing) Day 2011
Dani Simons, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy
Urban advocates, planners, officials, and artists join forces each September to install miniature parks and pop-up cafes in parking spaces normally reserved for cars.
(Policy Innovations article, September 2011)



The Climate Change Novel: A Faulty Simulator of Environmental Politics
Adam Trexler, University of Exeter
Ultimatums. Floods. Ecotage. More than 200 novels have been written that imagine life in a climate-changed world, and they point to some of the fundamental difficulties we have in articulating a just and sustainable future.
(Policy Innovations article, November 2011)