The pandemic has revived hope that a more sustainable world is possible | Jeremy Caradonna
Economic growth is inextricably linked to the climate crisis, but the past year has taught us that such growth isn’t essential
Some of the most striking images from the early days of the pandemic, when public health orders and lockdowns ground economies to a halt, were the arresting photos of the Himalayas, suddenly visible from across northern India, as decades of unrelenting smog finally abated. Unbelievably, some locals glimpsed the immense mountain range for the first time in their lives.
It’s never too late to clear things up. And the pandemic has revived a movement that has its roots in the 18th century, when the word “sustainability” was first coined (in German) to describe a new approach to forestry enabling a continual harvest of wood. It’s a movement widely believed to have entered the mainstream with the 1987 Our Common Future report – a UN-backed initiative, overseen by Norway’s then prime minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland, which laid out an ambitious pathway towards a “sustainable economy”. This left us with the enduringly relevant definition of sustainability as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.