Last fall, I entered into a graduate school program for Infrastructure Planning and Management. The gist of it is that we have critical infrastructure in our country (energy, water, transportation, cyber security/communications, public health, and food) and every sector is in drastic need of attention before we experience catastrophic failure. (Think Hurricane Katrina) It is argued that this is a severe vulnerability to our national security…and I would agree. Each class has stretched me and, I believe, made me a better person.
A strong theme that is woven throughout the program is climate change and making our infrastructure more sustainable. Defined by a 1987 international report, sustainable development is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Brundtland Report: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/media/backgrounder_brundtland.pdf) From this report, an entire movement, political and social, has been fostered, including an emerging economic sector described most commonly by the color “green”. Now, I admit I have a severe skepticism toward climate change and the entire “green” movement, but I am all for pursuing sustainability that makes economic sense. (By economic sense, I mean affordable.) Consider “Energy Star”. As technology has improved, appliances with energy efficient ratings are becoming more accessible for the average consumer in terms of purchase price and the long-term savings realized in utility bills. This is excellent! However, forcing an electric car upon people that is costly and inefficient in the long run makes no sense.
I digress, because the point I am trying to make isn’t targeted at the green movement. Rather, it’s about the concept of sustainable development in a larger perspective. If the point is to meet today’s needs without compromising tomorrow’s ability to meet its needs, why do we continue to run our economy (nationally, locally, and personally) into the pit of hell? We, as a society, have run up such outrageous amounts of debt that we are handcuffing our future and future generations. How did we become so short-sighted? As I write this, the country is exploding with response to the Supreme Court ruling upon Obamacare, stating that it is constitutional. Regardless of its legal status, estimates of this policy show an increase in national debt of trillions of dollars. Huh? So, the same people that support the bill are, generally speaking, the same ones that want sustainable development. Why is it a policy to protect the environment but not economic opportunity?
I am here to advocate for a sustainable country. Every aspect of it – social, economic, environmental, political, relational – should be preserved so future generations can enjoy the same opportunities we have today. Let us promote sustainable values, sustainable businesses, sustainable governments (at all levels), sustainable families, and, yes, sustainable developments that consider the impact decisions today will have upon outcomes tomorrow. Let us be long-sighted, forward-thinking, and selfless. I believe that is a core principle of the United States of America from the very beginning. That is a vision I believe all Americans could get behind.