Monday, January 27, 2014

David Orr/John Robinson's Two Sustainabilities

In David Orr's Two Meanings of Sustainability, he draws the distinction between technological and ecological sustainability, which were differentiated as a result of the Brundtland Commission. Orr explains the main point of differentiation between the two is that one reaches sustainability through technological fixes and advances and the other depends on overcoming individualistic and militaristic attitudes. Orr goes on to say that both sustainabilities do not work in isolation, but rather are two necessary parts to sustainable development. 
Technological sustainability works to stabilize current impacts and manage ecological processes in an economically efficient way. This type of sustainability focuses of economic growth, advocating for free trade in order to maintain technology transfer. All the while, creating sustainable technologies will transform the technology industry into adopting a certain standard of strategies conscientious of the environment.  The purpose of ecological sustainability is to create alternative solutions to the impacts. The first step toward ecological sustainability is the general moral improvement of society at large that replaces the current public understanding of subsistence activities. 
Ecological sustainability understands that humans do in fact have limitations and these limitations are also compounded into technology that may appear to enlarge our human possibilities, but essentially do not. Because of human limitation, call for a new citizen order is necessary to build an educated public that has the ability to build the background for action and for a society whose local community is able to work in tandem with the nation. Local, traditional ecological knowledge also plays a vital role in working towards practices that are compatible with society, showing that there are advantages to a society which adapts to the places in which they live. Ecological sustainability depends on replicating and designing technologies which resemble natural systems because human activity will continue to be disruptive if it does not fit within the predefined ecological processes. 
I believe Both David Orr and John Robinson have created their respective typologies in order to dissect the concept of sustainable development and show how these two seemingly independent views do in fact have ties with one another. Their typologies work within the definition of sustainable development itself: "develop which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." Robinson further elaborates on Orr's two sustainabilities by illustrating the force each one has on one another. I believe both Orr and Robinson's purpose in creating these typologies is to show that sustainability requires a multi-faceted solution that differs based on context. 
An example of an in-between scenario is recycling. Although there are technological proponents which may increase a societies recycling outcomes, the success of recycling also lies in the hands of people themselves and largely relies on a certain attitude that has to be adopted. 

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