Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Next Step

Only a crisis can bring change, and we are not in a crisis, yet.

The green way of life has been present for decades. An imminent and possibly devastating problem sits on our horizon. We are all aware of it, we discuss it daily, money is poured into it, and endless hypothetical solutions are devised, except we are still the same. We have become comfortable and carefree. Of course our society is changing, and companies worldwide are parading their green credentials, and a fight against carbon emissions. We all recycle, some of us grow our own food, and the odd house is decorated in solar panels, a step in the direction, yes, but still no overall change. 40 years ago recycling wasn’t popular, and companies hadn’t heard of climate change, but 40 years ago not everyone regularly flew abroad, or owned electronics made 1,000s of miles away, nor did they buy fruit from the other side of the world. We have a problem in ourselves that needs to be addressed before we can progress, a problem of sustainability.

Our definition of the word has become tainted, we see it as a direct approach to climate change not as a way of life. At the root of being sustainable is following the rule that one must meet it’s needs without effecting the needs and resources of future generations. Climate change is one element in a much larger equation of being sustainable. A relationship needs to be generated that enforces the present with a respect for the future, only then can we achieve targets, and successfully stop climate change.

Carbon neutrality is the final goal, but not a means to achieve it, that is done by carbon negative. To only achieve neutrality is to only care about the present, disregarding the past and what effects we did create. Take for example government targets for all new houses to be carbon neutral from 2016, then overlay the fact that at current rates 0.8% of homes are new builds a year, thus equating to 125 years to replace just the homes we currently have with carbon neutral ones. How is it that carbon neutrality can be sold as a positive change? The change needs to happen to those new builds and existing ones. The adaptation of the old and the negative carbon of the new will help us achieve neutrality more efficiently, benefitting the present whilst repairing the past’s damage for a sustainable future.

We face a drastic change, but that change needs to occur in order for us to become sustainable, but how can we change a society comfortable with the way they are. Ideas and schemes need to accommodate for the majority’s reservation against change and help to develop achievable and practical solutions to our non-sustainable way of life.

Below is a scheme I generated with the help of Manchester City Council’s data on their green spaces spread across the city. It looks at taking the next step towards sustainable life, focusing on food production. In no way is it groundbreaking or revolutionary, rather a little more of something that has been around for over a thousand years. Food production in the UK only meets 2/3s of our demand. We therefore import from other countries at an economic and carbon cost. Why don’t we become a sustainable food producing country? If we were to generate all the food we needed, in a sustainable manner, the current costs would be eradicated and food would become cheaper.

Allotments: the next step. We have them already, they are in demand, they cost little to both maintain and use, and they generate ample food. My scheme simply expands the amount of allotments present in Manchester. By occupying 2/3s of the Green space in Manchester an annual saving of £1,809,392 is made, plus the rental cost of provides the council with a substantial financial reason to do so. As for the residents of Manchester they receive the benefit of cheap food for themselves, and an opportunity to trade with others to generate extra income. All round the scheme works, makes sense economically, and is an achievable next step towards a sustainable country.

If you have nay further questions about my work or this scheme in particular feel free to contact me at

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