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Wed May 4 18:08:57 EDT 2011


 THE NATURAL STEP'S FOUR SYSTEM CONDITIONS 

1
IN ORDER FOR A SOCIETY TO BE SUSTAINABLE, NATURE'S FUNCTIONS AND DIVERSITY
ARE NOT SYSTEMATICALLY SUBJECT TO INCREASING CONCENTRATIONS OF SUBSTANCES
EXTRACTED FROM THE EARTH'S CRUST. 

In a sustainable society, human activities such as the burning of fossil
fuels, and the mining of metals and minerals will not occur at a rate that
causes them to systematically increase in the ecosphere. There are
threshholds beyond which living organisms and ecosystems are adversely
affected by increases in substances from the the earth's crust. Problems
may include an increase in greenhouse gases leading to global warming,
contamination of surface and ground water, and metal toxicity which can
cause functional disturbances in animals. In practical terms, the first
condition requires society to implement comprehensive metal and mineral
recycling programs, and decrease economic dependence on fossil fuels.  
 


 2 
IN ORDER FOR A SOCIETY TO BE SUSTAINABLE, NATURE'S FUNCTIONS AND DIVERSITY
ARE NOT SYSTEMATICALLY SUBJECT TO INCREASING CONCENTRATIONS OF SUBSTANCES
PRODUCED BY SOCIETY. 

In a sustainable society, humans will avoid generating systematic increases
in persistent substances such as DDT, PCBs, and freon. Synthetic organic
compounds such as DDT and PCBs can remain in the environment for many
years, bioaccumulating in the tissue of organisms, causing profound
deleterious effects on predators in the upper levels of the food chain.
Freon, and other ozone depleting compounds, may increase risk of cancer due
to added UV radiation in the troposphere. Society needs to find ways to
reduce economic dependence on persistent human-made substances.  
 


 3
IN ORDER FOR A SOCIETY TO BE SUSTAINABLE, NATURE'S FUNCTIONS AND DIVERSITY
ARE NOT SYSTEMATICALLY IMPOVERISHED BY PHYSICAL DISPLACEMENT,
OVER-HARVESTING OR OTHER FORMS OF ECOSYSTEM MANIPULATION. 

In a sustainable society, humans will avoid taking more from the biosphere
than can be replenished by natural systems. In addition, people will avoid
systematically encroaching upon nature by destroying the habitat of other
species. Biodiversity, which includes the great variety of animals and
plants found in nature, provides the foundation for ecosystem services
which are necessary to sustain life on this planet. Society's health and
prosperity depends on the enduring capacity of nature to renew itself and
rebuild waste into resources.  
 


 4
IN A SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY RESOURCES ARE USED FAIRLY AND EFFICIENTLY IN ORDER
TO MEET BASIC HUMAN NEEDS GLOBALLY. 

Meeting the fourth system condition is a way to avoid violating the first
three system conditions for sustainability. Considering the human
enterprise as a whole, we need to be efficient with regard to resource use
and waste generation in order to be sustainable. If one billion people lack
adequate nutrition while another billion have more than they need, there is
a lack of fairness with regard to meeting basic human needs. Achieving
greater fairness is essential for social stability and the cooperation
needed for making large-scale changes within the framework laid out by the
first three conditions. 

To achieve this fourth condition, humanity must strive to improve technical
and organizational efficiency around the world, and to live using fewer
resources, especially in affluent areas. System condition number four
implies an improved means of addressing human population growth. If the
total resource throughput of the global human population continues to
increase, it will be increasingly difficult to meet basic human needs as
human-driven processes intended to fulfill human needs and wants are
systematically degrading the collective capacity of the Earth's ecosystems
to meet these demands.  

 
*******************************************************


                 The Deep Ecology Platform

1. The well-being and flourishing of human and nonhuman life on Earth have
value in themselves (synonyms: inherent worth, intrinsic value, inherent
value). These values are independent of the usefulness of the nonhuman
world for human purposes.

2. Richness and diversity of life-forms contribute to the realization of
these values and are also values in themselves.

3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to
satisfy vital needs.

4. Present human interference with the nonhuman world is excessive, and the
situation is rapidly worsening.

5. The flourishing of human life and cultures is compatible with a
substantial decrease of the human population. The flourishing of nonhuman
life requires such a decrease.

6. Policies must therefore be changed. The changes in policies affect basic
economic, technological, and ideological structures. The resulting state of
affairs will be deeply different from the present.

7. The ideological change is mainly that of appreciating life quality
(dwelling in situations of inherent worth) rather than adhering to an
increasingly higher standard of living. There will be a profound awareness
of the difference between big and great.

8. Those who subscribe to the foregoing points have an obligation directly
or indirectly to participate in the attempt to implement the necessary
changes.

-- Arne Naess and George Sessions

Source:  _Clearcut: The Tragedy of Industrial Forestry_, edited by Bill
Devall (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books and Earth Island Press, 1993).


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