Living within our means

It's a problem for households and councils and today many councils wrestled more or less successfully with putting themselves onto a more sustainable footing. Sadly Aberdeenshire rejected the Democratic Independent proposals to raise £2m each year by exploiting renewable energy opportunities.

But even more than money (and we are reminded by Osbourne's latest round of quantitative easing that money is a social construct) we are overspent on resources - energy, water, food. I am indebted to Alan Owen of RGU for a thought provoking presentation to the RTPI this evening that highlighted the extent of the problem and to Bob Reid for pointing me to This recent Limits to Growth article.

On a global scale, there simply isn't enough to go round. There is no 'silver bullet' to fix this. To get down to sustainable levels, we need to consume at the level of Ghana and Palastine - and we are many time that. Here in the UK we need to reduce energy consumption by a whopping 87%.

So do we hide our heads on the sand and hope the problem goes away? Tempting.

But let's be positive.

Here in the north east of Scotland, we have great resources.
Could we grow enough food to feed everyone in the NE? Yes.
Could we produce enough energy to provide for our total energy needs? Yes.
Could we reduce our water consumption to sustainable levels. Of course, Yes.

The bigger question is will we?

So - over to you.

What do we need to do?
What changes have to be made?
How can we, together make it happen?


  1. Ghana or Pelestine? Do you seriously believe it is the intention of these countries to maintain their current level of development? Their consumption levels are dictated by the development of their economies, and are not in any way related to any sort of conscious effort at "sustainability".

    Should the potential of these economy's be blighted by imposed standards of 'sustainability' in order to satisfy the guilty consciences of those in the west?

  2. Of course undeveloped parts of the world will increase their consumption. All the more reason for us, who have built wealth on the exploitation of resources should take the lead in reducing consumption. I quoted the two examples so there was no doubt how big the problem is - not something that can be tackled by recycling more and not using disposable plastic bags at supermarket but requiring much more fundamental changes. If we can't harness technology to help us live up to our commitments, how can we expect others too?


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