Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MUSINGS FROM PRIYADARSHINI KARVE: Welcome to SUSTAINable Life!

Tuesday : 17 March 2015 


Welcome to SUSTAINable Life! 

This blog is coming from Samuchit Enviro Tech, a social enterprise promoting sustainable lifestyle products and services for households and small businesses. Please visit www.samuchit.com for more information about our products and services. 

Humanity's ecological footprint has now exceeded the total area of the earth. In other words, the total amount of resources taken by humans every year from the earth's ecosystems are far greater than the amount of resources regenerated in the same period of time. The reason why the rich and middle classes of the world continue to live in relative comfort, is because the vast majority of humans are poor and just about managing to subsist. Obviously we cannot continue in this manner. 

It may surprise many people to know that this sustainability challenge is not new to humans. We have faced and overcame the same challenge - nearly 10,000 years ago! 

For 90,000 years, humans lived a nomadic lifestyle based on hunting and gathering for resources. With this lifestyle, one individual needs free access (i.e. without competition with other humans) to about 10 square kilometer area of land in order to be sustainable (i.e., the amount of resources removed are equal to the amount of resources regenerated every year). The total land area of the earth is 1.5 x 10^8 square kilometer. Assuming that this entire land is habitable, theoretically the earth can sustain about 15 million humans living the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Obviously, the actual carrying capacity of the earth is less than this, as all the land surface is not equally rich in resources and there are great tracts of land that are not even habitable. 

It is therefore not surprising that about 10,000 years ago, when the human population had exceeded 5 million, the hunter-gatherers started feeling the pinch. Increasingly the hunting and gathering expeditions started to fail as hunter-gatherer groups found themselves competing for resources in the same area of land. In other words, the human civilization faced the same resource crunch that we are facing today! At that time the solution was effected by changing the lifestyle - humans shifted to agriculture and settled down. In agriculture, one can extract more resources from a patch of land, by inputting some additional resources from outside (e.g., seeds, water, fertilizer, etc.). This allowed humans to meet their resource needs from available land, by increasing the productivity. However, this approach in turn had some other consequences. That is a topic for another day! 

The important point is that sustainability is closely linked with lifestyle choices. So what lifestyle choices can WE make today, to solve OUR challenge of sustainability in the present day? This blog will try to explore answers to this question... and also the follow up questions arising from the answers! 

We welcome you all on this journey of exploration with us! 


Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech


 Samuchit Enviro Tech.     samuchit@samuchit.com     www.samuchit.com