The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW!
Sustainability is often misunderstood. For the past forty years, the focus on sustainability has been directed toward environmental awareness and impact. Today, the economic and social dimensions of sustainability are equally as relevant. Sustainability is not simply the act of “being green”. The notion of “green” is but one aspect of a broader and more consequential convergence of concepts for the generation alive here and now. Sustainability is about finding balance, amid the many trade-offs that exist, and by making a decision to take action on the most suitable options while considering the context of life one person (or an entire generation) if living within.
Mark Coleman’s book, “The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW!” examines how individual and generational entitlement represent the underlying root causes of social and environmental challenges; and how this has led to “erroneous indulgence” of natural resources; and to the detriment of future generations’ ability to meet their needs.
Coleman’s book presents options for creating actionable and sustainable change through personal empowerment, enlightenment, and a reexamination of individual/generational accountability toward natural resource protection, conservation, and enhancement. Coleman’s thesis further centers on “simplifying sustainability” and leveraging the “Sustainability Generation” to take action toward their individual and generational futures.
Coleman’s book achieves five core purposes:
- Examines the root causes of unsustainable behavior.
- Identifies a framework for empowering a Sustainable Generation.
- Provides a common-sense approach to deconstruct, think about, and take action, on converging issues that impact the human-environmental interface; and how humans can take control of a more sustainable destiny.
- Offers pragmatic solutions for “simplifying sustainability” so that the existing generation can take, and have, an immediate impact on their generational “wealth creation” and the ability of future generations to have a “new wealth” in economic and environmental opportunities.
- Enables readers to realize that they have the emotional, spiritual, and physical power to live a more balanced life that can achieve resolve, purpose, and impact.
Sustainability can be a challenging topic to discuss, and a daunting goal to pursue. People, and our relationship with one another and the earth, are the common denominator to a more or less sustainable world. Seven billion people now occupy earth, competing for a fixed amount of natural resources. We all need access to clean water, food, and shelter for survival. Yet these seemingly basic life needs are underserved, or altogether unmet daily for billions of people. The survival and consumption needs of seven billion people intensify each year as more natural resources are consumed, and natural resource damages and declines in ecosystem services perpetuate. To add insult to injury, the disparity between the “have” and “have nots” is increasing, resulting in greater disdain, frustration, and anxiety among the 99% of the global citizenry feeling helpless within their own life let alone challenges in global sustainability.
To “achieve sustainability” can feel overwhelming. Where does one begin? By buying a more fuel efficient car? By purchasing “greener” clothes detergents? By eating organic foods? By creating proactive public policy? Sure, these are all options for consumers and citizens to evaluate and decide upon. However, living a sustainable lifestyle is as much about what you consume and legislate as it is about what you don’t consume and don’t legislate. It is equally about “green products” as it is about finding alternative products. Sustainability then is about YOU and the myriad of choices evaluated, and decisions made, on a daily basis. How you engage your mind, body, and spirit in those choices and decisions is up to you. But in those acts you determine your role and impact in creating a more balanced, civilized, and sustainable world. The values, beliefs, actions and inactions of individuals represent the common denominator by which a sustainable world will be realized or not.
Sustainability is tied to one’s “life context”. Your life context is comprised of opportunities, demands, constraints or circumstances which drive your specific daily life and lifestyle. You have control over much of your “life context” including your beliefs, wants and desires, needs, and how you choose to spend your time and engage your energies. Yet, there are influences and impacts on your “life context” that you simply cannot control. How you choose to accept your “life context” at any given phase of life has a direct impact on who you are today, and who you will be in the future. Sustainability then, is a process of self-enlightenment and fulfillment that begins with you. Achieving sustainability is about embracing life, finding personal happiness, and empowering others to do the same.
As Coleman points out in “The Sustainability Generation”, that the honest truth in all of this, as hard as it is to admit and take action on, is that “we the people” have the power, passion, and potential to effectuate change for the better. Sustainability does not have to be an indefinable complex topic for academic or political elite. As Coleman notes, “Sustainability is actually about the billions of behaviors and decisions, taken and made by seven billion people daily toward improving upon and bettering their “life context”. At birth we may not be able to influence where we are born, how we got there, or the world which we are born into. However, as we grow and mature throughout life we can take action in our daily lives to create a better world through our personal decisions and behaviors. The seven billion people living on earth today represent The Sustainability Generation. Our fate and that of earth are very much one in the same.”