The System Conditions of Sustainability

Happy Earth Day 2020!

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the day we raise awareness about the state of our planet.

The air over the U.S. is much cleaner now—and so is the water we drink (in most parts of the country).  We don’t use toxic compounds like DDT or asbestos any more, but other threats have overtaken them.  The biggest threat we now face—one that wasn’t on the radar for most people back in 1970—is climate change.

The science regarding climate change is indisputable, as is the consensus among scientists: This threat is more fundamental—and ultimately more harmful—than we could have anticipated 50 years ago.  Climate change impacts every aspect of life on the planet, whether you live in the White House or a humble hut in sub-Saharan Africa.

Lately I’ve been reminiscing about how I first became acquainted with the concept of sustainability, so today I’ve decided to blog about the remarkable work of one of my heroes, Karl-Henrik Robert, a Swedish pediatric oncologist, who in partnership with a colleague, first articulated the system conditions of sustainability.  

It’s an inspiring story—and one that not many people know about, but it has everything to do with how we now approach caring for the natural world and its inhabitants, because the Earth is the source—and only source—of all of our lives and livelihoods.


© Casa Verde Paint 2020