Quantifying and Analyzing Sustainability: Modeling Sustainable Solutions (tech/science)

posted Friday, January 16, 2009        

JANUARY Meeting –Organizing questions:

How large a population can Tucson/Pima County support in a sustainable manner, providing our needs from local capacity? (e.i., without importing energy, water, food, and other resources from outside the region)
Do we have a good database model of resources in and out of Tucson?
What is sustainability for a community? Is it self-sufficiency?
Where is the “sweet spot” on a graph where desired quality crosses with minimum resource usage?
What does the ongoing process of an evolving sustainability plan entail?
Do we understand the mathematics of sustainability under uncertainty?
How are we addressing the possibility of this meltdown being “evolutionary in scope” such that what is happening is outside our normal learned perspective of life?
At what point will we stop talking and begin taking action?

Group Discussion

Can we come up with a set of data that shows how, in terms of numbers, we use resources in Tucson so we can create an input/output matrix for life resources, not just money?
To be sustainable is not optional – being unsustainable leads to death!
We need to define the root problems. Sometimes people view implementing solutions as if the solution is the main problem.
People are not fully aware of what it takes to be able to live in Tucson.
What needs to be done: Take a bioregional perspective, calculate carrying capacity, and determine environmental, social, and economic assets to build from and to see what’s missing.
The problem is undefined. What is the problem we are trying to solve?
What are we trying to sustain? Environment, quality of life, economic growth.
Collect data, formulate analysis.
We need to define sustainable population (range or number) for this region.
Does sustainability evolve? Have we always been sustainable?
Is sustainable a “zero-sum problem”, i.e., Is there a fixed resource pie so that more resources on one side makes fewer resources on another? For example, does increased population mean less water for each person.
What is consensus of problem definition we need to solve?
Scientific problem-solving requires analysis of data.
Sustainability is avoiding disastrous consequence of growth.
Are we sustainable if we use money to buy our life-support from outside Pima County?
Part of problem is people do not have a good idea of how much of a resource is needed to sustain their lives in Tucson. Also where do these resources come from? For example, where does our food come from?
Can we create a model so people can “see” the use of resources and make decisions based on data about possible trade-offs? For example, Does rainwater harvesting to water gardens plants reduce stream flows to downstream riparian areas, wildlife, and communities? We currently have no data?
How can we address this need for data and understanding?
What data do we need to collect to define “sustainable” for each life quality or resource? We need an input/output model for local and imported life-support resources – what comes in, what is used here, what goes out?
What is optimal size region for sustainability? USA, Pima County, Tucson?
Water is one measure of sustainability limits.

Main points:

1) What are we trying to sustain? Environment, quality of life, economic growth.
2) Sustainability is avoiding disastrous consequence of growth.
3) Part of problem is people do not have a good idea of how much of a resource is needed to sustain their lives in Tucson. Also where do these resources come from?
4) How can we address this need for data and understanding?
5) What data do we need to collect to define “sustainable” for each life quality or resource?
6) What is optimal size region for sustainability?

FEBRUARY General meeting — Discussion and Who else needs to be involved/invited?

What resources does it take to sustain our current Pima County population for water , food, shelter & livelihood and where do thses resources come from?
What is the carrying capacity of Pima County
How much electric-generation from roof tops in Tucson?
How much roof-water could come from Tucson?
How much water needs to go into the ground?
How much water comes in, gets used, and goes out of Pima County?
How much ag/food development needed to support population/ eco base
What is the measure of an economic base that indicates “enough” jobs or development for the population? Solar panel production, green retrofitting

Who needs to be invited?
Biosphere II, UA departments, Pima County Gov, Huckleberry, Board of Supes, PC P&Z, TREO


2 comments about “Quantifying and Analyzing Sustainability: Modeling Sustainable Solutions (tech/science)” ...
 

Paul Ehrlich developed an equation for “sustainability” which included the variables: I=PAT, where I=Impact,P=population, A=affluence,T=technology. As a starting point for discussion, this formula may be helpful. If we agree that we live in a world of limits, then the variables can increase or decrease, but the formula must always balance, a requirement of(in the case of sustainability)staying within carrying capacity of our environment. We can then see the interplay between population numbers and quality of life. See the following website for further interesting insight: http://www.futures.hawaii.edu/j11/norberg.pdf.
Best, Ron Proctor

 

Interesting

But that link is missing a “d”. try this

http://www.futures.hawaii.edu/j11/nordberg.pdf


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