Why Sustainability?

Consider trees:
People drive around the country and see all trees everywhere and think that we can't possibly be running out of them. But we are, because for years we've been cutting them faster than they grow.  Forests also provide recreation, habitat for wildlife, clean water and a place to stash a lot of carbon, so cutting them all down is not only politically difficult, its self defeating.  Add in bug damage, fire damage, and a lot of very small trees due being young, or poor growing conditions, and you much less wood than it seems.

If we don't harvest sustainably, eventually there will be nothing left to harvest.  This is admittedly a complex topic subject to much interpretation, and since jobs and money is on the line, there are bound to be disagreements. Yet, sustainability also means jobs in perpetuity, so everyone ought to be behind it, even if we don't quite agree on what it is.

Changing to steel, or concrete or even straw will have its own set of problems, and undoubtedly people will be arguing about which is better for a long time yet.  As individuals all we can do is make educated guesses and try to use materials wisely.

The problems we face with energy and water are equally grim, yet continue to be denied by a significant segment of the population, in spite of the environmental movements relentless cries of near catastrophe.  Certainly people are afraid of losing their luxurious lifestyle, yet no one looks at what we have to gain by losing at least some of that lifestyle. We've become a society of a lot of stuff, and not much soul.  We've forgotten that we are a frugal conservative lot as much as we are exploiters and risk takers.

There is a general belief that technology will save us from having to change, and in some sense green building is a part of this technology.  Yet, this seems like a poor excuse for not putting reasonable limits on our own consumption.  If we were a poor country and some other country lived like us, we would not desire to be like them, but rather deride their behavior, yet we somehow don't apply this to ourselves.