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Monday, 11 October 2010

Fixing the facade

Once there was a man who had a house. One day he noticed a crack in the walls of the house so he patched it up and gave in new coat of paint and all looked well. Some months later he saw another crack so he did the same; filled in the crack and painted it over. Some weeks later he saw two more crack so, again, he filled them in and painted them over. It wasn't long before a friend pointed out that he had a number of cracks in the wall of his house. His friend said it looked bad and that he should do something about the problem. The man told him he was working on the problem and they both went out to patch up the wall and paint it over and all looked well. Some time after more cracks appeared and the man got busy working on the problem. He was annoyed that more cracks appeared but he was happy that he was doing something to address the problem. However, the more he patched up the house the more the cracks would appear. Soon cracks were appearing faster than he could patch them up and it wasn't long before the whole house collapsed. Then the man realised the problem wasn't the cracks in the wall but what was causing the cracks to appear! The house was rotten to the core and while he had spent his time tackling the cracks the real problem got worse. Even worse for the man, because he had spent his time fixing cracks he had felt he was doing something about the problem so didn't look further into the problem. As the cracks had got worse he had spent all his time and energy on fixing the cracks that he didn't have any more time for investigating the problem.

I look at today's society and what we do and I see a man fixing the facade of a rotten building. We have things like ISO 14000 and 20-20-20 attempting to address the problem but do nothing about the core problem so they become filling in the cracks. Are we doing something? Do things like ISO 14000 and 20-20-20 make a difference? Yes, we do do something and ISO 14000 and 20-20-20 do make an impact but do we do anything about the core problem? No, we don't. Sooner or later the good things that might come out of ISO 14000 and 20-20-20 will get lost when the building collapses.

It appears to me the term "sustainable development" forms an example of an oxymoron!