In Praise of Unsustainability

We’ve mentioned before that everything that humans have ever done has been unsustainable. And not in a bad way.

According to architect Austin Williams, sustainability is ‘a philosophy of low aspirations, miserablism, petty-mindedness, parochialism, sanctimony’. Ben has reviewed Williams’ new book The Enemies of Progress: Dangers of Sustainability over at Culture Wars.

The idea of ‘sustainability’, at first glance, has some footing in common sense. To disagree with it seems to mean standing up for unsustainability, defending houses that will collapse: who would be mad enough? Architect Austin Williams’ new book, The Enemies of Progress: Dangers of Sustainability, offers a snapshot of the sustainability’s increasing influence, and gets beneath the sustainable agenda to reveal its true character and aim…

Read the rest of In Praise of Unsustainability here.

Tickelled Green

Patron of the Optimum Population Trust, neo-malthusian and miserablist to world governments, Sir Crispin Tickell went head-to-head with Austin Williams of the Future Cities Project on the question of “are there too many of us?” on Thursday. BBC Radio 4’s PM program has been featuring the question all week, leading to some interesting discussion. You can catch the program here. (It starts about 42 minutes in. And it’s only online for another week.)

The program’s blog has received a flood of comments from listeners (or just OPT activists) angered, not by Sir Crispin’s dark gloom, misanthropy, and pessimism, but by Williams’s challenge to it. It is interesting that some of the comments seem to reflect the idea that Sir Crispin’s ideas are radical, when in fact they are very much the establishment position. It is also interesting to see how challenges to environmental orthodoxy are met with expressions of outrage. It’s also interesting to note that, just a few decades ago, the one-child-per-family policy of China is something that would have been pointed at as an example of the nasty, controlling authoritarianism of the Chinese Government. Now, it’s something many aspire to.

Crispin Tickell was at York University recently, giving a lecture on “the future” – a nasty place, according to him, so we better do as he says. The lecture, hosted by the very interesting New Generation Society, who take as their inspiration JFK’s inaugural speech, was reviewed by Climate Resistance co-editor Ben for the society’s online journal.

The New Generation Society’s Kennedy Lecture aimed to embrace the kind of challenge that its namesake laid before the world nearly half a century ago.

“Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.”

President John F. Kennedy
Inaugural Address
Washington DC, 20th January 1961

In short, by pursuing humanity’s common interests, the New Generation could transcend its differences.

Enter Sir Crispin, who brings to this lecture as many years experience of dealing with the World’s problems as have passed since Kennedy’s speech. He is someone we might like to turn to for sober reflection on the issues that the next generation faces. He is an authority on many subjects, from the scientific to the political. So how do the words of the two men compare?

Read the rest here.