“Designing Tomorrow” provided a view of sustainability built on innovation as the guiding principle.
Dr. Paul Anastas began with the statement that all we have is energy and matter and that if all of the world’s population enjoyed the same standard of living as the USA, Europe and Japan, we would need the resources of more than four earths to maintain ourselves. Clearly, we are on a trajectory toward exhaustion of our planetary resources.
New and innovative solutions are required. However, these solutions need to be considered in a systems context with an understanding of (1) the full product life cycle, (2) process and production needs, as well as (3) consideration of the usage implications of every new approach.
A number of well intentioned but unfortunate instances were cited as reasons why a systems approach is mandated. Among them were bio-fuels created from corn and other renewable agricultural products to produce an energy source other than petroleum that burns cleanly. Unfortunately, the results also include reduced grain stocks which drive up the cost of meat, flour and bread.