How Sustainability became BAU

An article was posted to the DeepTransformation.network on “Marketing the planet: The financialization of nature”

I added to the comments: The article certainly lives up to its promise, detailing how more and more exceptions are being made to the Brundtland Report’s holistic definition of sustainability.  Few people noticed where the perversion of the original meaning all started, though. It was with the VERY FIRST RULES FOR IMPLEMENTING SUSTAINABILITY; HOLDING FINANCE HARMLESS FOR ITS IMPACTS

As a result, 30 years of policies, and efforts to reverse climate change, among other things, were designed around sustaining maximum economic growth, the most direct and fastest-accelerating cause of climate change. How in the world did we do that, with no one seeming to notice?

In a nutshell,

Allowing finance to hold itself harmless for our dramatic overshoot
of the Earth, which it guided, paid for developing, and profiting from, misdefining all of sustainability as BAU from the start.

As a natural systems research scientist with long involvement in the UN’s development of its SDGs, I observed how it repeatedly happens. Financial advisors, such as from the OECD, have oversight of the regulation writing processes. The Brundtland definition of sustainability was then changed in the regulations, converted to reducing the impacts of businesses that they *seemed* to control. However,  finance actually selects and pays for developing and promoting consumptive and polluting business operations, following a rule to maximize profits. What then does the greatest harm is the use of the profits to maximize the growth of more businesses based only on maximizing profits too. It is a case of power adding to its power, holding itself harmless, for the ever faster mounting harm being done.

Then of course, once everyone seemed fooled by that perverse ruse, it opened the door to do it everywhere else too. The next big one was how maximizing growth was promoted by defining sustainability around improving efficiency! Networks of scientists saw the gross error in that, but officialdom everywhere was fooled by that too. Why? Apparently fooled by it being so profitable. 

Efficiency is indeed good for lots of things, at least till it undermines resilience; HOWEVER, when it is used to grow profits to satisfy investors, it grows business consumption and pollution too, another way to negate sustainability and redefine it as BAU!

More important seems to be understanding part of the cure.  It is learning to feel the great changes going on around us as if they were personal relationships, that really have been but we often didn’t notice. My research success it is the key to our survival instincts, feeling how one’s relationships are changing. It works great for guiding us in personal relationships, and now the global changes have intruded and have become personal. Why finance is so blind to the threats to itself and us can then be understood as being so detached from its environment that it feels the profits but not the destruction, and sp seems to have quite lost its own survival instinct, having nothing but remote control profits, leading them and us all astray!

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