Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Impasses to Sustainable Development: Oriental-Occidental Juxtaposition [Part 3]

Production and Consumption Mantra: Greed is Good?


“Greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked the upward surge of mankind.” (Internet Movie Database, 2010 & Wikipedia, 2010a)

Those words are from a famous fictional character named Gordon Gekko, the main character and antagonist of the 1987 film Wall Street and the 2010 film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, both directed by Oliver Stone. In the first film, Gordon Gekko “create nothing but takes everything”, which is an undesirable outcome yet the choice of (almost) everyone. This situation reflects the “Prisoners’ Dilemma” scenario in games theory where “confess, confess” to maximized self gain is the dominant but not the collective best outcome. Due to the fear that opponent may choose “confess”, two prisoners in separated cells will tend to “harm” each other for the benefit of own self. Hence, fear, selfish and greed merged into a powerful symbiosis that contributes towards unsustainable consumers’ lifestyles and production decisions, which can be grouped into three categories. There are (a) unethical profit-maximizing production, (b) luxury and corrupted lifestyles, and (c) war and weapon built-up.

Unethical profit-maximizing production

Being greedy are of course legally right as long as no laws is broken. However, “is greed good?” That is the question Gordon Gekko asked in the Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Here, the question will be is being greedy the right way towards sustainable production? From the economics perspectives, at least one person claim “yes, greed is good” – Adam Smith of the classic school. Through his theory of invisible hand, market can achieve efficiency when consumers and producers try to be greedy by maximizing their utility and profit respectively. However, “efficiency” in this context has been limited to monetary efficiency in which maximize profit neither equal to maximize sustainability nor collective welfare. This results in negative externalities to the environment, exploitation of labor and social imbalance, which threaten sustainability.

Maximize profit implies minimized cost of production to the capitalist, which resulted in hidden damage to the environment. A World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) advertisement on the first page of Business Week (28 June 2004) said it all, “the true cost of a dam never show up on a balance sheet”. Our Common Future attributes a full chapter to highlight the impact of industrial growth towards sustainability. It provides a list of classic examples including the ‘death’ of Lake Erie, the progressive river pollution like Meuse, Kibe and Rhine, and mercury poisoning in Minamata. A millennium list could easily expand those examples to the cases of BP oil leak, China’s poisonous toys, global green house effect and numerous local pollution damages. Not even the Kyoto Protocol or the subsequent Washington Declaration in 2007 could ease global environmental problems. With greed as the driving force of industrialization in developing countries, the world is changing as envisioned by Saruman, the wizard character in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: “The old world will burn in the fire of industry. The forest will fall and new order will rise.” Hence, environment ethics is needed against exploitation of nature in greed-driven production. Ecocentric (also known as biocentric) school urges for “land ethics”, claiming that a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. Like deep ecology school, both Daoism and ecocentric believes in interdependent between human and nature, thus see human as part of nature community, not conqueror of land. In Islamic perspective, environmental ethics started from the concept of din. According to Islamic teaching, environment/nature is not owned by human, but only trusted (amanah) by God for their sustenance. Thus, human must not only preserve the environment but have to repay God’s kindness to them through the concept of zikir (remembrance), ibadah (service) and khidmat (good work) for God. This make human relationship to nature as in the capacity of khalifah (viceregent) in which God will access the conduct of mankind (Quran 11:7, 18:7, 31: 20 & 22:65; as cited in Baharuddin, 2010: 135 – 137).

On the aspect of exploitation of labor, traditional economics believe that the fruits of growth (consist mainly of capitalist’s profit) will trick down to the whole community automatically through free market mechanism. HHowever, to maximize profit, cost has to be minimized, which may result in exploitation of labor group by the capitalist without the trickle-down effect. Thus, inequality gap will widen and middle class society will gradually vanish. As a result, domestic market lacks purchasing power to sustain economic growth, resulted in enthusiasm to export as important source of growth. Subsequently, export as an ad hoc attempt to support yearly growth, may not base on comparative advantage but merely as a desperate mean to sell over-produced goods, which domestic market lack the purchasing power to buy. Thus, this goes beyond exploitation of labor to wastage of scare resources that threaten sustainable development. On these matters, ecofeminism offers an interesting explanation. This school of thought believes male-dominated thinking (and therefore, decision making in production) is the problem for exploitation as well as unsustainable development. According to this school, patriarchy Western thinking based on dualism causes imbalance of power relationship that identify one party more important than other (e.g. man over women or human over nature), resulting in discrimination or exploitation. In contrast, ecofeminist believes women tent to treasure relationship (including relationship with nature), more caring, less conflict and more willing to corporate for mutual benefit, which will promote sustainable development.

Regarding social imbalance, inequality can be seen from three perspectives, namely income inequality, economic sector inequality and geographical inequality. On income inequality, different education level may have been a factor. Psacharopoulos (2000) found that merely a small portion of population possessed a high education while a large population is literacy or low educational, thus will create an income inequality in an economic. So, the worrying point is that with commercialization of education nowadays, will the poor still have equal access to education? Besides, Bhagwati and Dehejia (1994) have shown that another source for widening income inequality is trade liberalization. International trade pushes adaptation of capital-intensive production which requires skilled rather than unskilled labor. Subsequently, wages of skilled labor will increase due to increase demand while wages of unskilled labor will decrease. Their findings are consistent with many other research such as Acemoglu (1998), Feenstra and Hanson (2001), USTDRC (2000) and UNCTAD (1997). Hence, international trade that in theory could bring mutual benefit has been in reality discriminatory against the weak (e.g. unskilled labor and less develop nations), which in turn resulted in unsustainable development. On economic sector inequality, high return in industrial sector as compare to agriculture sector (particularly basic food agriculture) resulted in distort investment in favor to the former sector. Even within agriculture sector, high crude oil price between 2002 and 2007 triggered the conversion of food agriculture to bio-fuel agriculture that yields higher profit. Consequently, food production reduced, inviting global food crisis sooner or later. As capitalist live a luxury life, unskilled workers and farmers fighting against the bite of poverty. This situation causes unequal development. Development gap also exist geographically, between urban and rural. The former is the home to ample investments and engine of growth while the later is left alone with its unprofitable agriculture activities. Despite intention of governments in both developed and developing countries to reduce this gap, greediness to maximize profit will jeopardize the effort. How about gaps between rich and poor countries? Gigantic efforts are needed to globally destroy the seed of greed in human first before any effort can become meaningful.

Luxury and corrupted lifestyles

Mahatma Gandhi once mentioned this world has enough to meet the needs of everybody, but not the greed of everybody. Over-consumption is clearly noticed in developed (rich) countries. A 24% of population that live in developed countries consumes 64% of meat, almost half the cereal, over 80% of metals, over 68% of chemicals and 92% of cars (Rogers, Jalal & Boyd, 2008: 67). Lust for power, popularity and wealth is seen as serious mental pollution in Daoism, which urges human to achieve emptiness and calmness by humbling themselves and controlling their desires beyond necessity. In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, human wishes to have more than their needs. Greed drives human desire to have more of money, power and luxury lifestyle. Luxury lifestyle, particularly obtained through corrupted means or debt is a serious cause to unsustainable development. Greed plus egoism trigger chase for luxury, which in turn results in wastage of resources for unnecessary goods or consumption beyond sustainable level. Luxury and corrupted lifestyles can be viewed from four perspectives.

The first is demand and supply of non-necessity goods that drain all sort of natural and human resources. Luxury nowadays can range from consumption of exotic-endangered species in the developing East to space tourism in Western developed countries. Other examples include food wastage, mega-size structures and fast-changing fashion wears. Add to the list are some financial instruments trading which ‘create nothing’ but consumes resources and inefficiency of public transportation system that jams developing countries’ road with cars and pollution. Second is property investment (speculative buying) phenomenon that creates bubbles, which could bring down a big economy when burst like the subprime crisis in the United States. Greed drives people to buy property solely for resale and rental income. When more and more people invest in property, the price will rise, hence preventing genuine buyer (for residential purpose) to own house. Subsequently, demand for rental will rise, as the unaffordable have to resort to rent, thus justifying the property speculation scheme and prompt more property investment. The cycle (bubble) continues until it burst. However, before that happen, the sustainable ability of the economy has already suffered.

Third, greed also drives debt-financed consumption. A well known economist, Ravi Batra (1999) termed that as “artificial demand”. Greed, debt and growth sustainability have complex relationships. It is greed that encourages consumer to consume beyond their mean through borrowing. Financial institutions are willing to lend for maximizing interests and fees-based income, particularly through property loan and credit card lending. Financial lending and consumption growth ironically means economics growth. Monetary expansion policy through banking sector is actually money creation through expansion of loan (debt), yet debt is blamed as factor causing economics crisis. Hence, economics can growth with debt expansion but it is not sustainable while speculation and debt-funded luxury lifestyle are fertilized by greed. Forth is corruption, an evil that not only threaten sustainability, but powerful enough to collapse civilization. Greed again is the seducing factor. Corruption causes inefficiency in production, leakage of resources to non-production activities and widen inequality gap.

War and weapon built-up

War and preparation for/against war (weapon built-up) are grave threat to sustainable development, yet root causes that fertilize war remain unattended. Unsolved conflict leads to aggression. In large scale, war broke out between conflicting clans, countries or civilizations. But what lead to conflict? Why conflict cannot be resolved? Fight for superiority over differences may lead to conflict. Greed with hatred and egoism from all parties push the conflict beyond peaceful solution. If greed is on one side and “folly” on the other side, war may be avoided but not cheating and exploitation of the “folly” side. Imbalance of power leads to conquering of one towards another, either through physical warfare or economics colonization.

History has witness the colonization of ‘new world’ by European forces during the 1500s Mercantilist school era due to the 3G factors – gold, glory and gospel. In another words, it was eagerness to maximize gold, expand empire and spread religion. Centuries later, German invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and France triggered the World War I. Declaration of war by France towards Germany after the later invaded Poland on 1st September 1939 triggered the World War II. Nonetheless, the seed of World War I was imperialist foreign policies of the great powers of Europe, such as the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the British Empire, France and Italy (Wikipedia 2010b). In addition, deep hatred between Germany and France after the defeat of Roman Empire by France in Napoleon War and France-Prusia War 1870 also contributed to both world wars. The price of World War I are deaths tool of 16 million plus wounded casualties of 21 million as well as spread of famine and disease (epidemic typhus, malaria and Spanish flu). Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Austria, Russia, France, and the Ottoman Empire contracted 30% to 40% while Britain owed the United States US$4.4 billion of World War I debt in 1934 (Wikipedia 2010b, 2010c & 2010d).

On terrorism, Buruma & Margalit (2004: 16) believed the attack on the World Trade Center was seen as an attack on not only the New York City or the United States but also an attack on the West and its symbol the “occidental city”. New York City is connected to the idea of the city of Babylon, the sinful “City of Man”, where greed of capitalism flourishes. Furthermore, poverty and unsustainable development in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq have increased warfare and terrorism possibility as the people there have almost nothing to lose except their life in exchange of a place in heaven, monetary payment for terrorism acts or any other benefits offered to them. Therefore, to overcome terrorism or prevent any warfare, promoting ethnical sustainable development is the key, not economics oppression or built-up of weapon for annihilation of opposing parties.


Next (final part) ... Towards Sustainable Development


[This posting is extract from Chapter 1 of Sustainable development weltanschauung: Beyond theories into reality. [ISBN: 978-983-053-600-2]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Impasses to Sustainable Development: Oriental-Occidental Juxtaposition [Part 2]

Over-sized Population: How Important is to be Big?

In the Sustainable Development United Kingdom (UK) 09 conference, UK government chief scientist, Prof John Beddington warned about a "perfect storm" of food, energy and water shortages by 2030 due to growing world population (McGourty, 2009). Unfortunately, population growth has been taken as catalyst to mankind economics activities, rather than a burden to nature sustainability. Mercantilist school of thought in the 1500s era sees large population as one of the core element for economics growth. Providing large amount of labor, wage rates and subsequently production costs become low, hence exports become competitive. Large population could also be absorbed into soldiers and sailors for expedition and colonization. Those activities could help gold accumulation that justified the need for population growth. However, the classic school later pin-pointed many flaws in this school of thought that reversed its popularity. In the 1990s, developed nations have finally acknowledged the initially-unbelievable Asian Miracle. For two decades, Soviet Union and Asian countries, particularly Singapore, South Korea and the South East Asian ‘Tiger economies’ of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines recorded consecutively extraordinary growth rates. However, at least one person begs to differ – the Nobel Prize in Economics 2008 winner, Paul Krugman. He claimed that the extraordinary growth in those Asian countries is based on expansion of inputs rather than growth of output per unit of input, thus unsustainable (Krugman 1994: 63). High capital investment (perhaps, from high accumulated saving rate and foreign direct investment) and increasing labor force participation (resulted from population boom in about a decade earlier) without increase in total factor productivity makes high growth as a one time event that cannot be repeated. Among others importances are large population strengthen domestic market base and large pool of tax payers enriches national income. The later proposition can be traced back to the period of Tang Dynasty in ancient China where Liu Yan famously encouraged high population by claiming that “steady increase in population resulted in wider resource of tax income” (Zhaowu, 1991: 272). Nonetheless, have those justified an over-sized population? How about natural constraint to population growth?

Malthus (1798: 4, 1959: 8-10) believed that the need to sustain population is indefinitely greater than the earth’s ability to produce subsistence for man. This is due to the geometrical rate of increase for population against arithmetical rate of increase for subsistence. He warned that should population reach over-sized, the nature army of destruction will strike in the form of epidemics, pestilence and plague. Gigantic inevitable famine will follow until population and food find their balance. Therefore, the increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence (Malthus, 1798: 44). Through science, genetic engineering, use of chemical fertilizers and improvement in production tools and methods greatly increase human’s production capability, both in food and non-food output. However, there are limitations in technology, environmental resources and ability of the biosphere to absorb human activities (Our Common Future, cited in Rist, 1997: 181). Perhaps, through education and training, productivity may increase but there are limits too. For example, Krugman (1994: 71) explained that Singapore has replaced its half-educated workforce by workers with high school diplomas but it is unlikely that most Singaporean will have Ph.D.s in a generation from now. Furthermore, the slavery of market-driven education as seen in Malaysia and many developing Asian nations did not help either. Rapid increase of sub-standard education, replacement of “thinker” academician with “teaching” academician, spoon-feeds culture as well as pseudo-professor syndrome in Malaysia (Lim & Har, 2008) further cripple not only the nation’s quality of education but future expansion of productivity to meet the consumption demand of growing population. Besides, big population regardless of their education level could be a hindrance for any nations to move towards capital intensive production. Latin American nations are the best example where they were struck in labor-intensive import substitution industrialization (ISI) while smaller population Asian nations easily move into capital-intensive ISI and export oriented industrialization (EOI).

On over-sized population, Malthus (1798: 23) proposed two types of solution, namely positive check and preventive check. The former implies increases in dead rate but it confined mainly to the lowest social order. The preventive check that may apply to all social rank could include birth control, abortion and postponement of marriage (Malthus, 1798: 20). In consistent with Malthus’s preventive check, deep ecology school of thought proposed big reduction in their population. That school also proposed human to go back to organic social that in harmony with nature. Deep ecology school did not give superior rights to human. Instead, this thought believes all livings (include nature) have the same rights to live and grow. Both human and non-human organism not only has their respective intrinsic value but interdependent to each other. Therefore, human has no rights to disturb, destroy or reduce the richness of nature unless for fulfilling human utmost important needs. Attacking Western’s individualism and consumerism as root cause of environment degradation, the deep ecology school of thought urged for radical policies changes on economics, technology and structure ideology. However, social ecology disagreed on deep ecology’s opinion of going back to organic living. This thought believed that human no longer able to go back to organic, pre-technology living because doing so would mean production is inefficient, thus cannot support high population’s demand (Lau, 1999). Alternatively, this social ecology urged that focus be given to rehabilitation and damage repair to environment rather than drastically revert back to pre-technology level.

Our Common Future also agreed that current population growth rate cannot be sustained because governments’ abilities in providing food security, education and health care have been compromised. Hence, the governments, particularly in low-income countries face more difficulties to raise living standards (United Nation, n.d.(b)). The report also believed a stable level of world population should be about 6 billion. However, to sustain that level, manufacturing output will need to increase by five to tenfold. This increase could be harmful to the world ecosystem and natural resource (Rist, 1997: 183). Chapter II of Our Common Future further stated:

Sustainable development can be pursued more easily when population size is stabilized at a level consistent with the productive capacity of the ecosystem. Therefore, developing countries will have to promote direct measures to reduce fertility, to avoid going radically beyond the productive potential to support their populations. In fact, increased access to family planning services is itself a form of social development that allows couples and women in particular, the right to self-determination”.

[United Nation, n.d.(a)]

According to World Bank’s (2010) World Development Indicators database, total world population for 2009 has already reached 6.77 billion people, over the believed stable level of 6 billion people. Despite expected slower growth rate, population could reach more than nine billion in 2050. By then, will there be more agricultural and industrial revolutions to support human consumption needs? Do these revolutions have its limits and negative externalities? An example reported by BBC News worth mentioned. In India, Green Revolution successfully increased the country’s agriculture output. Yet, cost of important inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation pumps and regular fresh supplies of seed continue to rise. As a result, the heavily indebt villagers are still trapped in poverty (BBC News, 2007). Therefore, is the more population the merrier?

[Next... Production and Consumption Mantra: Greed is Good?]
[Extract from Chapter 1 of Sustainable development weltanschauung: Beyond theories into reality. [ISBN: 978-983-053-600-2]


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Impasses to Sustainable Development: Oriental-Occidental Juxtaposition [Part 1]

Introduction

The world today is a juggernaut, both in term of consumption and production. Centuries of rapid human civilization and economic growth have reached a stage of unstoppable. As in Figure 1, on the consumption side, human population is too high with more and more people competing for scarce resources while each person consuming more and more due to human’s greediness and luxury lifestyles. Increases in population and consumption without being matched by increases in productivity, particularly in production of basic food, may result in global famine. By 2020, the world needs 80 billion tons of nature resources. Human population may have reached 9 billion by 2050, hence posing danger of high demand for fossil fuel-generated electricity and cars. These may trigger a shoot up of annual global greenhouse gas emissions from 47 gigatonnes in 2005 to over 70 gigatonnes. As a result, temperature is expected to increase between the modest range of 2-3oC to a frightening 4-6oC in the long run (Strange & Bayley, 2008: 23, 65-66). On the production side, scarcity of land becomes a natural constraint. Yet, human greediness has resulted in over-consumption, inappropriate allocation of resources in production and “political sinkhole” where rampant corruptions and bad policies suck up and destroy productive resources.

While there are 2.8 billion people (more than 45% of the world population) has too few food to consume as they live on less than US$2 a day (Stiglitz 2002: 23 – 25), there are obesity and wastage of food problem on the richer side of the world. Global inequality has adversely shifted the purchasing power to the wealthy, which causes wastage of resources to produce luxury goods for the rich at the expanse of necessity goods needed by the poor. To quote Strange & Bayley (2008: 79, 82 & 89) examples in length, people living in Britain throw away around a third of the food they buy thus costing the United Kingdom (UK) local authorities £1 billion to collect and send most of the wasted food to landfill. Faber-Castell Company alone produces 2 billion pencils every year, which are enough to reach the Moon if laid end to end. A billion of mobile phones are sold each year with an average user changes phone every 18 months to two years and very few of the old ones are recycled. Furthermore, unsustainable consumption pattern and sustainability demographic are one of the focuses of Agenda 21.

Besides, act of nature like earthquake, volcano eruption and tsunami compile more misery to limited human’s production capacity against unlimited increase of consumption demand. All happening are due to greediness (and egoistic) of human, which resulted in dominance of mankind towards the environment and dominance of the rich/capitalist over poor/labor group within mankind. In turn, these will bring us towards development issues such as inequality and sustainable use of resources as well as the important of ethics.


Based on the mentioned conceptual framework (Figure 1), there are three questions to ponder. First, is over-sized population good? Second, what can be done to the greediness of human? Third, what will be the suitable sustainable development model? In answering the three questions, philosophical thoughts from the East and West are compared from various scopes including economics, environmental ethnic, religion and social-political aspect, starting from the definition of “sustainable development”.

“Sustainable Development” Literatures

The emergence of Keynesian economics indirectly gives birth to the concept of development, which is differentiated against growth. Generally, economic growth only referred to increase of aggregate output and aggregate income, hence deem less holistic. Development economics, as an extension to economics growth must also be concerned with cultural and political requirements for affecting rapid structural and institutional transformations of entire societies so that economics growth can prosper the broadest segments of populations (Todaro & Smith 2006: 9). Therefore, economic growth is necessary but not the sufficient condition for economic development. As time pass, even “development” itself is deem not sufficient, more specifically, lack the aspect of time and environment where “sustainability” concept comes in. Thus, traditionally production factors like machinery and labor are expended with natural resources, human capital and social capital gradually included into neoclassic production function (Dietz & Neumayer, 2009: 262-263). Subsequently, a new branch of economics emerged, namely “environment economics”, which includes new aspects such as theory of missing markets, attempt to place monetary values on surpluses foregone when markets are missing (via environmental valuation), design of allocation systems capable of realizing foregone surpluses (e.g. Pigovian taxes, tradeable permits and Coase theorem), and rules on optimum depletion of renewable and non-renewable resources. Nonetheless, Newton (2003: ix) claimed that the advent of environmental philosophy is sentimentally dated to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published in 1962 while Brown (2009: 33) claimed sustainable development is founded on the belief of synergy (mutual and positive reinforcement) between the co-exist of development and environmental conservation. This is in consistent with Weale’s (2009: 55 & 57), who believed wellbeing and environmental protection is not a zero-sum trade off. Instead, sustainability agenda is so large and radical that it covers intergenerational justice, resource use, pollution, urban and planning, participation, poverty and social inclusion. Meanwhile Dietz & Neumayer (2009: 260) highlighted that sustainable development should engage with equity, both across and within human generation (extendable to between human and non-human) and comprise of three pillars of economics, environmental and social. Linking ecology and other aspects of human life is also consistent to the Islamic weltanschauung on sustainable development. Using the concept of “oneness”, Islamic teaching believes interrelatedness of all things that exist in the natural world and between the world and God (Baharuddin, 2010: 133).

On the aspect of time, the concept of sustainability may have been loosely traced back to the word “usufruct” used in ancient Rome. The word means “you may use the fruit” but implies “right to use another property for a time without damaging or diminishing it” (Black’s Law Dictionary, 1999:1542 cited in Rogers, Jalal & Boyd, 2008: 210). In modern time, ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1985 could be the first formal treaty on sustainable development (Rogers, Jalal & Boyd, 2008: 211). Yet, it take another two years later for Brundtland’s Report for World Commission on Environment and Development (Our Common Future, published in 1987) to conceptualize the term “sustainability development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (United Nation, n.d.(a)). But how long is the future? Newton (2003: 1) has an interesting benchmark – “seven generations”. It’s believed that a Native American tradition requires the users of scare resources to consider their actions from the perspective of those seven generations from themselves. He quoted an ancient Native American proverb, “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”. On local front, a property developer’s advertisement reminded that “out action today will determine the future of our children and grandchildren” (The Star, 10th September 2010: N13).

Various Western thought can be portrayed into two schools of thought. First, most of the Western thoughts assume human are superior and therefore conquer the environment for their consumption. Second, few thoughts believed that human and environment are equal, thus human have no rights to exploit the environment and other non-human organisms but only to live as part of nature. A glaring Western thought that believe in the later version is the deep ecology school while the Daoism of the Oriental thought share the same perspective. Using the concept of Dao, De, wuwei and ziran, environmental ethics of Daoism implies that everything is not only ontologically and axiological equal but also interconnected and inter-complementary where each has its own play in forming and sustaining the continuity of Nature (Lau 1999). In contrast, there are also plenty of ancient Chinese myths strongly glorify human conquering nature. Examples are stories of Nu Wa smelting stones to mend the heaven, Pan Gu separating the heaven and earth from chaos and Hou Yi shooting down nine scorching suns in the sky (Zhaowu 1991: 9-10). The ways human consumes the environment and its nature resources will determine its sustainability but the belief in human’s ability to conquer nature may have laid down the foundation on exploitation of nature and unsustainable development. All these perspectives of thoughts changed the perception of sustainability development in term of optimum level of population, human’s greed and thus, sustainable development model.

[Next... Over-sized Population: How Important is to be Big?]
[Extract from Chapter 1 of Sustainable development weltanschauung: Beyond theories into reality. [ISBN: 978-983-053-600-2].