The mission of this web site is to collect, organize, and analyze information on sustainable development, with especial focus on integral human development; and to publish monthly updates via the Mother Pelican Journal of Solidarity and Sustainability.
INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Integral human development includes all dimensions in the life of each person, including the physical, intellectual, pyschological, ethical, and spiritual dimensions. In particular, the spiritual development of each and every human person is crucial for sustainable development. It is recognized that spiritual growth is impossible for people living in misery. However, the extreme poverty of many is mostly a consequence of the spiritual underdevelopment of people living in abundance. Therefore, the mission of Mother Pelican encompasses the full range of social and ecological justice issues, but is specifically focused on how they relate to spirituality and the practices of various religious traditions. Gender inequalities that emerge from religious patriarchy are explored as major obstacles to integral human development, solidarity, and sustainability.
The patriarchal culture of control and domination is the root of all social and ecological violence. It corrupted the original unity of man and woman (cf. Genesis 3:16) and is now disrupting the harmony between humanity and the human habitat. Just as we are now aware that slavery and racism are moral evils, we must become aware that gender discrimination is a moral evil that must be eradicated if solidarity and sustainability are to be attained.
The need to reform patriarchal structures applies to both secular and religious institutions. Overcoming patriarchy is a "sign of the times" to the extent that it fosters authentic gender solidarity and nonviolence for the good of humanity and the glory of God. Given the enormous influence of religious traditions, it is especially critical for religious institutions to extirpate any semblance of male hegemony in matters of doctrine and religious practices.
Monthly updates of Mother Pelican are distributed free of charge via the Solidarity-Sustainability distribution list. The monthly updates currently include the following:
An editorial essay on current solidarity-sustainability issues.
Several one-page articles on recently emerging research.
To view the first page of the current issue, click here. Links to each page of the current issue are provided below.
The current research agenda is to examine all the significant dimensions of sustainable development in order to integrate the resulting multi-dimensional knowledge and make it available in a form suitable for use by leaders of sustainable development initiatives. The following modes of research are being used:
Review and analysis of current sustainable development concepts, policies, and best practices.
Review and analysis of patriarchal structures of control and domination in secular and religious institutions.
Review and analysis of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) projects and trends.
Review and analysis of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) projects and trends.
Review and analysis of human behavior in response to economic growth-human development trade offs.
Use of System Dynamics (system behavior simulation) to analyze sustainable development scenarios.
Use of Girardian analysis (mimetic theory) to analyze scapegoating behavior.
Use of NxN inter-dependency matrices to analyze precedence relations.
Sacred scriptures from various religious traditions are used as a point of reference.
More specifically, the following are being explored as crucial ingredients for the transition to a new civilization of improved solidarity and sustainability:
Transition from consumerist growth to a steady-state economy
Transition from population growth to demographic stability
Energy usage and climate change mitigation/adaptation projects
Implementation of financial transaction/speculation taxes
Shift from income/property taxes to land/resource value taxes
Guaranteed basic personal income (conditional or unconditional)
Corporate social responsibility and triple bottom-line accounting
Transferring subsidies from fossil fuels to renewable energy
Fostering gender equality/balance in society and religion
The knowledge organization model that has been chosen for this web site is the Knowledge Map of Chaim Zins:
SOLIDARITY & SUSTAINABILITY INFORMATION PACKAGE
This package contains a college-level powerpoint presentation on ecological sustainability. The presentation is about the transition from the consumerist society to ecological sustainability. After definitions of ecology, sustainability, ecological sustainability, and sustainable development, the presentation unfolds as a series of questions and answers centered around the "sustainable development paradox" (i.e., the paradox of infinite growth in a finite planet).
This is the essence of the sustainable development paradox:
If consumption continues to grow indefinitely, natural resources will be depleted, pollution will reach saturation levels, and the human habitat will degrade so much that it will not support human civilization.
If consumption growth comes to an end, the worldwide economic-financial system will become disfunctional and eventually may collapse with severe social repercussions.
In other words:
Increasing consumption will eventually destroy the human habitat
Stabilizing consumption would stagnate materialistic economic growth
The purpose of this presentation is not to resolve the paradox, but to show the relevance of "Ecological Sustainability" for engineers and other professionals. Due to the ubiquity of sustainability issues (all locations, all industries, all human activities), at least one course in "Ecological Sustainability" should be required in all professional programs (undergraduate and graduate levels), as well as continuing education programs. For K-12 and other programs, see the following:
The objective of the Sustainable Development Simulation (SDSIM) is to analyze trade-offs between human development and economic development priorities. It is a global model, in the tradition of Limits to Growth and other similar projects. However, it attempts to take into account both material resources, which are limited, and human resources such as wisdom and the human capacity for adaptation, which are not physically limited. The time window is 1900-2100, and the transition from consumerism to sustainability is expected to begin happening during this century; in fact, empirical data suggests that it may have started already.
The horizontal and vertical scales are not shown in order to avoid giving the impression that this is a prediction. This is a simulated scenario, not a prediction. It portrays dynamic modes of behavior that can be expected during the transition from consumerism to sustainability, as follows:
Population peaking, then oscillating and finally decreasing to a long-term sustainable level. Note time-phasing with GDP and per capita consumption of material goods and services.
The peak in energy availability is followed by a long decline until it settles to the steady-state flow that is allowed by solar (and perhaps other cosmic) sources of energy. The "long-tail" is the result technological developments with gradually decreasing return on energy invested.
The solidarity index is currently formulated as a nonlinear function of human population, material consumption, and energy flows. It is an indicator of social cohesion, which is tightly coupled with the sustainability of resource usage. Solidarity reinforces sustainability and vice versa.
The general patterns of peaks, oscillations, and eventual settling to steady-state are indicative of turbulence during the transition, with high risk of cultural disruptions and violence. The myth of "infinite growth in a finite planet" will not be easy to overcome.
This is not intended to be an "alarmist" scenario. However, it would be wise to take the Precautionary Principle into account when formulation sustainable development policies as we enter the Anthropocene Age. Widespread violence is bound to emerge if demographic and consumption adjustments are involuntary. Is this "the future we want" for the entire community of nations?
NB: The current SDSIM 2.0 is a demo, not a capability.
The 2014 Human Development Report - "Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience" provides a fresh perspective on vulnerability and proposes ways to strengthen resilience. According to income-based measures of poverty, 1.2 billion people live with $1.25 or less a day. However, according to the UNDP Multidimensional Poverty Index, almost 1.5 billion people in 91 developing countries are living in poverty with overlapping deprivations in health, education and living standards. And although poverty is declining overall, almost 800 million people are at risk of falling back into poverty if setbacks occur. Many people face either structural or life-cycle vulnerabilities.
The pelican is an ancient symbol of unconditional service. To be a "person for others" requires full awareness of the personal self and also requires sacrifice of the one who serves. The following excerpt from The Physiologus (the author is unknown, circa 4th century CE) captures this ideal:
"The long beak of the white pelican is furnished with a sack which serves as a container for the small fish that it feeds its young. In the process of feeding them, the bird presses the sack against its neck in such a way that it seems to open its breast with its bill. The reddish tinge of its breast plumage and the redness of the tip of its beak fostered the folkloristic notion that it actually drew blood from its own breast."
The author of The Physiologus found the action of the pelican, interpreted in this manner, to be a symbol of merciful and sacrificial service and thus an apt symbol of Jesus the Christ (Cf. Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34). While professing no affiliation to any specific religious body, the Mother Pelican journal is committed to the promotion of basic Christian values, human rights, social justice, gender equality, and ecological sustainability.
For an annotated list that shows the themes covered in each issue, click
Submissions are cordially invited. Articles can be submitted via email to the editor.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Substantive letters to the editor are occasionally posted. To view them, click here.