Title: Sustainable Development: Some Starting Points Discussion paper prepared for The AQUADAPT workshop, Montpellier October 25th-27th 2002 
Resource Type: document --> technical publication --> report 
Country: EU Projects 
Year: 2002 
Availability: O'Connor, M. (2002): Sustainable Development: Some Starting Points Discussion paper prepared for The AQUADAPT workshop, Montpellier October 25th-27th 2002 
Author 1/Producer: O'Connor, M. 
Author / Producer Type: EC Project 
Report / download web link (=direct link): http://www.aquadapt.net/pdf/O_Connor_-_Sustainable_developme ...  
Format (e.g. PDF): PDF 
EUGRIS Keyword(s): Contaminated land-->Soil and groundwater processes-->Soil and groundwater processes overview
Short description: Introduction: All human societies have been preoccupied with their future. Human concern for degradation of the living environment is not a new phenomenon, nor is it peculiar to Western industrial economies. So the question arises, what are the specific preoccupations of our current society, underlying the concern for the (un)sustainability of contemporary processes of economic development? System and environment interdependency has been analysed since the 19th century from the point of view of input/output efficiency and productivity. Thermodynamics is, in this regard, the pre-eminent science of the industrial age, with analyses built around the framework of the controlled exploitation of one system by another. The steam engine fuelled by wood or coal from the environment was the first technological model for the science of thermodynamics; the same image of a productive machine has been transposed onto the economy whose ‘growth’ and ‘output’ is dependent on the successful exploitation of the natural world. Yet, with different cultural imperatives one might equally have used thermodynamics to focus on the pathways of transformation of water to steam to atmospheric vapour and back, via complex ecological pathways, as rain or snow, to earth again. With this change of focus, we are led to emphasise the profound sense of economic life taking place within evolving complex systems. Water, without which there is no life, can indeed be taken as a thread that orients diagnosis of sustainability problems, challenges, and paths ahead. It is in our blood and our bodies' cells, and is the main substance of everything that we eat and drink. It is certainly the vapour of the steam engine and also the humidity of productive soils. It is the medium of nutrient transportation and osmotic pressure in plants, and of mobility and life-support for the fishes that swim in lakes and rivers and under the ocean waves. It is that ubiquitous substance that we use to wash our hands and our clothes, to clean our machines, to dilute our wastes, to transport raw materials and processed goods from one place to another, to distribute heat in homes and factory buildings, to cook our food, and so on. It is the permanent metaphor of movement, of the spirit, of the flows of death and life. It is an economic asset, a strategic resource, a poetic resource and a security problem. It is an object of everyday knowledge to everyone. 
Link to Project(s): AQUADAPT Strategic tools to support adaptive, integrated water resource management under changing utilisation conditions at catchment level: A co-evolutionary approach
Submitted By: Dr Stefan Gödeke WhoDoesWhat?      Last update: 14/02/2006