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Global Sustainability is a Future Destination – And a Defining Characteristic of Efforts Today

Joseph J. Bish, MS Nov 05, 2021

Human civilization is complex, dynamic, and constantly evolving. It also exists nested within a wonderfully complex, dynamic, co-evolving living system: the planet Earth.

Unfortunately, contemporary human civilization seems to function in ways that make global sustainability farther away and less attainable. When we think of global sustainability — a human civilization evolved to be compatible with flourishing biodiversity and in dynamic equilibrium with the energetic balance of Earth — we should be thinking about thousands of years. Not a few decades or until the next election.

The future attainment of global sustainability is obviously not a given. Nor will it be a cakewalk. Labelling something as sustainable does not make it so. Success will require multiple decades of “all in” effort, including the marginalization and defeat of vigorous and violent resistance to change by those with the greatest stakes in the unsustainable status quo. Because these opposing forces are so immense and so entrenched, some people alive today may not live to see a bona fide state of global sustainability. Indeed, Population Media Center (PMC) does take an intergenerational perspective when it comes to our contributions towards global sustainability.

Using a transformative storytelling approach, which promotes global sustainability across four vital, interconnected dimensions, PMC provides immediate and transformative opportunities for the people of today. That is our strategy for creating long-term, intergenerational change. Immediate improvements today. We want to improve people’s lives individually, socially, economically, and environmentally. We believe that by uplifting the most affected and most likely to drive cultural change, we inspire exponential community progress toward the one goal we all share: A thriving planet.

The work ahead is immense. And in all honesty, human civilization is very far away from being sustainable, but that does not mean we can’t see progress in the here and now.

PMC thinks the phrase of “global sustainability” can be used truthfully and honestly in the present. It can identify and describe human events and behaviors of today as instances of an as-yet-unrealized global sustainability. For example, if a couple voluntarily chooses to have 1 fewer children than they might otherwise have had because they want to contribute to a future state of global sustainability, then that is an instance of global sustainability. If someone chooses to stop, or vastly reduce their consumption of beef, then that is an instance of global sustainability.

All paradigms shifts begin with anomalies that subvert the internal logic of the reigning paradigm. Instances of global sustainability today are anomalies to the unsustainable paradigm guiding human civilization today. The only way to achieve a state of global sustainability in the future is to increase the instances of global sustainability today — in both total number and frequency of occurrence.

From supporting women’s rights and healthy populations to encouraging greater social and environmental responsibility in a growing number of partner countries around the globe, PMC attends to the work of correcting the many failings of human attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors related to the protection of Earth’s resources — their use and misuse, their distribution and mal-distribution.

In this way, we are raising global sustainability through community empowerment on the most human level. By telling transformative stories, we are helping create more and more instances of global sustainability today, in order to help attain true global sustainability tomorrow.