We often discuss adaptation on Barge Program trips, usually referring to amazing trees and animals. But how about human adaptation? People always say, "Change is good" and how we deal with those changes and fit into the resulting situation can ultimately affect our futures.
Barge Program has been adapting and changing through its entire existence. From yearly staff changes while keeping the same educational standards, to developing the program to keep up with world events and issues, to adapting trips to fit learning objectives - there is a constant flow of change.
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are another reminder of our need to adapt, to be innovative in our developments to benefit future generations. We need to create new systems and mindsets that look ahead long term. We must adapt our daily lives and live harmoniously with the world around us.
What changes will you make today?
UN 17 Goals: No. 1 – No Poverty
Poverty is currently measured as people living on less than $1.25 (44 Baht) a day. The aim is that by 2030, this will be reduced by at least half to the proportion of men, women and children of all ages. Concerns include that fact that those in extreme poverty are more vulnerable to climate-related extreme events, such as flooding, earthquakes, plant disease and drought, and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.
Important numbers globally:
- 80 – the percentage of all fatal childhood diseases can be attributed to a lack of clean water and sanitation
- 60 – the number of people in poverty displaced every minute (that is a scary 1 every second!)
And in Thailand:
Global Goal 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
- 15 – the number of years a child can attend school for free, as the current Thai Government recognises the importance of education in eliminating poverty
- 11 – the percentage of Thailand’s population in poverty. This has been reduced from 67% in 1986 by a number of initiatives such as targeted social programmes, modernisation leading to high rates of economic growth and improved earnings from farm production. The latter is especially important as poverty is mostly a rural phenomenon (80% of Thailand’s poor live in rural areas).
Throughout history, humans have consumed natural resources and used them to better our lives; hill tribes would burn wood to keep warm, coastal villagers would catch fish to eat, towns would transport stone to build new houses. Recently though, the demand has been for more and more energy to fuel our high-tech electronic society. In the silicon age, electric power is needed in ever increasing amounts, to satiate our gadgets and home appliances – but the dream of a constant supply of energy from under the ground is coming to an end.
Fossil fuels have been the resource of choice for decades, powering the west and now the east through industrial and technological revolutions, but scientists are now starting to make predictions for the useable lifetime of these resources, and it does not make for happy reading.
Coal, the backbone of industrial machine power, could be used up in sixty years according to some sources. Most give it slightly longer, figures ranging from 100 to 200 years depending on our consumption rate and the potential of undiscovered deposits. The outlook for gas and oil is even less rosy, with figures ranging from fifty to eighty years. The impacts of this loss of these, our three most reliable and commercially viable resources, would be hard to imagine, but would certainly lead to a dramatic change in our world. Relying on uranium mining to produce power through nuclear fission is hardly a solution either, as our uranium resources may only stretch 200 years into the future before they too are depleted.
To ensure that our technological civilization can continue, we need an alternative source of power, and scientists have begun investing huge amounts of time and energy into developing the globally heralded alternative to fossil fuels: Renewable resources.
‘Renewable resources’ is an umbrella term for any way to generate power which can replace itself within an average human’s lifetime. The main eight currently under development are;
- Nuclear fusion
All have their pros and cons, some more or less expensive than others, some more or less efficient, but to make a sustainable world, huge investment will be needed to make renewable energy commercially viable by the time our fossil fuels run out. And simple fact is, they will.
The COP21 summit in Paris in December 2015, placed heavy emphasis on creating a renewable energy future, focusing strongly on solar power, which could supply nearly 1500 times the world’s global energy demand. At the same time, Germany has just switched on its newest generation of fusion reactor, which would theoretically supply clean energy for thousands of years.
The future looks good for renewable energy, it will not be cheap or simple, but with our subterranean resources dwindling, we must invest now in our sustainable energy future.
Ideas for Change
Industry: The production of goods and services
Innovation: A new method, idea, or product
Infrastructure: The organizational structure of facilities needed for the operation of a society
Sustainable Development Goal 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, is working to provide facilities for all global citizens. The idea is to have housing, electricity, water, sanitation and internet for everyone. In Thailand, the vast population is already meeting standards of access to these facilities – 97% of Thai people have access to water and sanitation
Within Goal 9, one of the targets is phone and internet access for all
. Currently, more than 4 billion people have no internet access. Achieving this goal helps develop international communications, to create more connections in our global community.
The use of innovation in developing the world’s industry and infrastructure is vital to the success of these goals. History has shown how innovation can drastically change how we live – the Industrial Revolution was a key moment in modern history. We now need another revolution to advance our world again, with sustainability in mind, for the long term future of our planet. Supporting least developed countries with financial support and resources will greatly increase the chances of achieving Goal 9. It really depends on a global network to work together and share.
Traidhos Barge Program explores the issues raised by these UN goals during fieldtrips. For further information see http://barge.threegeneration.org/programs