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Krohne Chapel Talk: The Nightmare of Sustainability

"I am here to celebrate Earth Day, to suggest that the environmental movement is in danger of losing its way, and to offer you the opportunity to do something about it," began Biology Professor David Krohne in his Chapel Talk "The Nightmare of Sustainability." 

Hear the entire Chapel Talk on iTunesU.

Krohne compared the sustainability movement that is gaining momentum with a termitarium or termite nest.

"A dangerous transformation is underway. If you read the ‘green literature’ these days, sustainability is the holy-grail. Sustainable energy. Sustainable agriculture. Sustainable ecotourism. Sustainable water use. Sustainable pest control. And the way to achieve this is clear: it’s technology – wind farms, electric cars, CF light bulbs, tertiary water treatment, desalinization, an endless list of technological solutions. But solutions to what? To the fact that there are too many of us. And there will soon be many, many more. 

"Clearly we need to figure out how to sustain all these folks. The termitarium is the ultimate in sustainable living – homeostatic, fully recycling, self-contained – perfect. If you’re a terminate. But essential to their approach is separation from the rest of the natural world – and thus you can see the outlines and shapes of my nightmares."

"In 1969 there were just about four billion people on earth. Today there are more than six billion. You will live in a world with nine billion. Multiply every environmental problem you can think of by a factor of 1.5. In 2050 you will find a much more difficult world in which to live humanely unless you start judging thoughtfully and acting effectively very, very soon."

While saving the wilderness and the idea of sustainability are good, Krohne encouraged the audience to take care of the here and now too. "Find that place that sustains you day in and day out, body and mind and spirit, your preferred habitat. Protect it; restore it – and it will do the same for you."