Making the transition to sustainable systems

Economic systems, both global and local, are composed of different but interrelated production/consumption sectors and production/consumption cycles -- each ultimately embedded and dependent upon the biosphere. These are intended to address specified human, organizational and institutional needs, investing natural, human and financial resources toward production and distribution of goods and services targeting specific consumer segments. Transition to sustainable systems and sectors requires focusing on each stage of the cycle as well as the circularity and impact of the flows through and beyond those cycles.

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food
Food

The transition to sustainable food systems is one of the most basic dimensions of a sustainable community. On the production/distribution side is the provision and accessibility of nutritious food, avoiding chemical-intensive, soil-depleting farming and processing methods; on the consumption side, cultivating informed and healthy dietary practices, avoiding food waste as well as harmful additives. As to world hunger, this problem is in many ways more of an ethical and political problem, an impact of unsustainable investment and distribution, not technological production.

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Freeway intersection
Transportation

Mobility is a human need. However, our current transportation systems and habits have become problematic, especially being mostly based on fossil-fuels. Given the huge infrastructural and corporate investments in this sector as well as the popular cult of the automobile and huge advertising expenditures promoting that cult, the ease and externalized costs of air travel and the dominant auto-centered urban community design, the transition to sustainable transportation systems is quite challenging. Nevertheless, the move to alternate, low-carbon mobility systems and habits has begun.

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Energy

Life requires energy to exist. From the metabolism within plan and animal cells to the complex energy production, distribution and consumption systems within cities and nations, lighting and heating our homes, allowing us to commute to work and fly across the ocean, energy is an essential overall need in its many forms. It is also a source of controversy and conflict, particularly given modern society's deep dependence on fossil fuels, generating the greenhouse gases driving global warming and climate change. The search for renewable systems and strategies toward low-carbon transition have become growing priorities.

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Buildings
Buildings

Shelter is another basic need, providing safety, warmth and comfort to individuals, families, businesses and institutions, the basic physical foundational unit of communities and society. The transition to sustainable buildings addresses, on the production side, issues of land rights, design and construction, electrical, water, gas and other systems -- their impact on environment, the community and other systems as well as what needs are met or neglected. On the distribution and consumption side are questions about homelessness as well as the size and impacts of buildings and their relationship to the community, both human and ecological.

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Water
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Media

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