Peter Otoole is one of a growing number of young researchers who are challenging traditional thinking about what constitutes sustainable living.
In his new book, What’s Your Planet Worth?
(Vanguard, £14.99), the Oxford University professor argues that the answer to our ecological problems depends on how we define what we mean by sustainable.
“It’s important to understand how the world’s finite resources are being used,” he told Al Jazeera.
“That’s one of the key questions that we’re grappling with right now.”
Otooles work is partly inspired by the work of the economist Peter Gordon, who developed a model of “resource demand” based on a wealth of economic data and his own experiences in developing countries.
He concluded that a sustainable economy depends on “what it means to be a consumer” and “the amount of food, water and other resources you have”.
Otoolets model, which he calls a “resource-driven economy”, suggests that a society with a consumption-driven income system will be in a sustainable position by 2050, but not for long.
“I want people to understand the resources that we consume,” he said.
“If I buy a bottle of wine in my local supermarket, that means that there are people around the world who are willing to spend their money in the same way.”
The world today consumes almost five times as much food as it does in the past.
“We can reduce the consumption of resources,” Otoollas said.
But he said the key to making a sustainable future is understanding what resources are and how they are used.
“Resources are really just commodities,” he explained.
“You can’t make a sustainable use of them unless you understand what they are.”
What resources are?
Resources can be defined as natural resources like land, water, energy, and food.
“There’s no such thing as a resource as the same everywhere,” Osolyas said, arguing that all resources are made differently.
“Some resources can be harvested, used, stored, or used for something else, like transport, or for fuel.”
And then there’s some resources that are not used in any way.
They may be used to generate electricity, for example, but they may also be used for energy storage.
These resources can range from the land itself to water and energy to food.
“It is very hard to imagine a world where there are no resources that matter,” he added.
Otooley’s model of resource demand is based on his work in developing nations, where he has been studying land-use change.
Osollyas has spent more than a decade studying land use change in developing country countries.
His research has shown that people in poor countries are increasingly moving to urban areas, and that these changes are contributing to land degradation, pollution and erosion.
He also argues that land degradation and water pollution in developing economies is a result of overconsumption, with large-scale agricultural production displacing people who are able to farm the land.
Otoillas model suggests that the world should be thinking more broadly about the kind of resource that a people is willing to invest in and the amount of that investment should be determined by the resources it is using.
“What’s the amount that people can live on if they have a basic standard of living, like food, and if they don’t consume as much as they can, like energy?”
“Is it sustainable?
And is it sustainable for the next generation?
How much of that can you sustain, in terms of food and water?
How long does it take to get back to a level of subsistence that people could live on?”
Otooells research is the latest to challenge the prevailing thinking about sustainable development.
In 2012, the World Bank published a report entitled The Sustainable Development Goals, which included a section on sustainable development that argued that the goal should be to make a society that is not dependent on the consumption and use of finite resources.
“The question of what to do about scarcity is not as pressing as people think,” Otoillo said.
OTOILLAS SUGGESTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY IN 2026: The world is on the cusp of a new era of sustainable development where everyone is contributing to the solution of the world crisis.
And this is because, in this moment, it is possible to do things that will improve the quality of life of the majority of people.
-Peter Otoolla, professor of political economy, University of Oxford, UK, The Sustainable World We live in an era where we have to think about how we will feed the world.
-Dr. Peter Otoille, professor at the University of Cambridge, UK.
The future is uncertain, but there are some positive trends emerging from this uncertainty.
We live now in a time where there is an enormous amount of uncertainty about what is sustainable.
This uncertainty will be reflected in the future