Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Unsustainable management

'Future generations' are the reason given for conservation and preservation of resources. Indeed, the Ministry for the Environment maintains that "conservation of resources for future generations" is explicitly required by the RMA's core principle of "sustainable management." It is mandatory. It is also stupid. I'll just say two things about both:
  1. Resources: 'Resources' are just so much dirt, rocks, trees and mud puddlesthat the ingenuity of the human mind has found a use for. But resources are only a resource if they can be used. If they can't be used they're not resources, they're just so much ballast. Conservation must at some stage give way to production, or else what are you conserving resources for? Which future generation wil be allowed to used them? When?
  2. Future generations: On behalf of my own generation, I'd just like to thank previous generations for building the roads, dams, abattoirs, reservoirs, power stations, powerlines, industrial and chemical plants, sewerage systems, pulp and paper mills, aqueducts, railways and mines that 'sustainable managament,' conservationists and the RMA have made it well nigh impossible to build today. Future generations will not thanks us for bequeathing them a woefully under-equipped future that's full of dirt, rocks, trees and mud puddles, but largely bereft of the infrastructure needed for human flourishing.
'Sustainable management' is neither sustainable nor real management. It is a pseudo-concept giving power to planners over landowners, while demanding the sacrifice of the present to a future that never arrives.

TAGS: RMA, Conservation, Environment, Ethics


  1. Well said. I never thought of it but your blog made me think about it. What is the saving of resources if they are not used. I read about an indian homeless begger, who has accumulated money over a number of years which he carried it around with him in a bag along with his personal possesions. He was found dead caused by hunger along one of the popular street frequented by beggers. When the authorities collected his body , they found the money. They traced his next of kin to hand over his possessions. The next of kin told the authorities that they sometimes give him money for food, but he never used it for that purpose, prefering to go thru the city's rubbish dump looking for leftover food from the surrounding restaurants. The begger often explained to his next of kin, that the main reason he hardly spend the money given to him, is that he is saving for the future.

    This is the worst example of saving a resource for the future. The resource was never used, where the end result is death of hunger.

  2. The weird thing is that if we decide to save resources for future generations these future generations keep receding over the horizon.
    Hence they can only be released for use when we realise that the great comet is coming and our current generation is going to be burnt to a crisp.
    So then we will all be able to party up using all those rocks, quill pens, and other stuff which past generations have stored away somewhere.

    Plain daft, daft daft. The only sustainability worth pursuing is the sustainable management of things like forests and fish stocks and the basics of soil,water and air. The idea of conserving "natural resources" for future generations is twaddle. And by the way, for the same reason, all energy is renewable too - it's all provided by human invention. As long as we keep producing brains we keep inventing and hence renewing energy sources.


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