August 24, 2010

Yo Ho Yo Ho, a ...... life for me

Yo ho yo ho, a pirate's lucky professor's life for me!

rockyrail.jpgLast night we set sail for a 110-day voyage around the planet. On board are the Fall 2010 faculty and staff (and an amazing crew). We're currently bound for Nova Scotia where 600+ university students and 60+ lifelong learners will join us. Even though I have had the honor of teaching for this program before, my stomach is still growling in anticipation of the days ahead. (or maybe that's just my breakfast reacting to the choppy seas?)

montecello.jpegBefore we skipped up the gangplank, we took a few days to hang with friends in Charlottesville, VA, home of the Institute for Shipboard Education and the academic sponsor of Semester at Sea, the University of Virginia. Since Thomas Jefferson is a one of my all-time favorite Americans, we also had to go visit Monticello. (Our son knew all about TJ and especially his relationship with Lewis and Clark, but he seemed to like the lawn the best!)

On this voyage I will again be teaching about sustainable communities. Let's just say I'm not the first American to be extremely interested in the framing and implementation of this idea. As far as I know, Thomas Jefferson was probably the first American to ever write down the essence of sustainability. About this time of year and about 220 years ago (on September 6, 1789) he wrote "Then I say that the Earth belongs to each generation during its course fully and in its own right. (and now here is the punchline) No generation may extract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence." Cool huh, this guy knew that it was unethical to steal from our children's future far before the Brundtland Report or any other more contemporary landmark document in sustainable development.

Unfortunately, three days ago (Aug 21) we started stealing again when we hit "Earth Overshoot Day." earthovershoot.jpgHere is how the Global Footprint Network sums it up. "Today, humanity reaches Earth Overshoot Day: the day of the year in which human demand on the biosphere exceeds what it can regenerate. As of today, humanity has demanded all the ecological services - from filtering CO2 to producing the raw materials for food - that nature can regenerate this year. For the rest of the year, we will meet our ecological demand by depleting resource stocks and accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." Clearly, Thomas Jefferson wouldn't approve.

Posted by rohwedde at August 24, 2010 1:40 PM