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Historic Origins of Sustainability

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Sustainable ArchitectureProf. Avlokitha AgrawalDepartment of Architecture & PlanningIndian Institute of Technology, RoorkeeLecture – 04Historic Origins of SustainabilityGood morning, welcome to the 4th lecture on the online course on SustainableArchitecture. I am your course instructor Doctor Avlokitha Agrawal, assistant professorat Department of Architecture and Planning, IIT, Roorkee. In lecture 3 we discussedabout the different definitions of sustainability and how we can understand sustainability.Today in this lecture we will be talking about how we have come to understandsustainability like we have defined in lecture 3.So, what has been the history the past which has led to this definition of history, why arewe talking about sustainability the way we are talking about it as we are. So, before westart looking at the historical perspective, let us look at how the world has changed atleast from the industrial revolution, the times when industrial revolution took place.(Refer Slide Time: 01:28)So, there were there was a larger focus on human health because there were some newdiseases mass diseases which were attacking the mankind and which was a result ofindustrialization. So, there were outrages of cholera. P people were dying, children weredying, the cities had started to become filthy dirty. People had very poor living conditions in Europe, almost all over the Europe people were living in very badconditions because of industrial revolution.(Refer Slide Time: 02:15)There were filthy conditions the children had no education, there were no propereducation available for the children of these workers of these industries which werethere. This photograph apparently is from a street in New York, we just cannot imaginebelieve that this was the state at one point of time around industrial revolution and thatwas when and there were different notions of how women should look, how womenshould conduct.So, there were social problems, there were environmental problems, there were healthrelated problems and then that is when people started talking about. So, there were manymore issues that is when people started pointing out the bigger problems; the majorproblems which were apparently causing a lot of misery to the humankind toward itwhen we do not even have clean air to breathe. (Refer Slide Time: 03:07)So, gradually all these changes have happened and that is why even our response haschanged to how we discuss sustainability and what we discuss when we are talking aboutsustainability. This image shows the ozone hole.(Refer Slide Time: 03:24)So, what essentially has been the root cause of our problems if we look at the currentsituation? (Refer Slide Time: 03:28)First of all the population explosion. Now, population explosion itself is a result ofseveral features. First, because of industrial revolution and in those times when there wasthis outbreak of diseases. The health facilities gradually have become better, there hasbeen a greater research in medical science and that is why the expectancy life expectancyof human humans that has increased. The death rate has decreased there is an increasedbirth rate and survival rate that is why world over the population has increased it has justexploded.So, there is automatically even if we were continuing our resource consumption rate wasthe same as that of the industrial revolution era. We would still be putting a lot ofpressure simply because we are so much more in number. So, one major cause ispopulation explosion. (Refer Slide Time: 04:44)The other one is people have departed from their traditional professions to more andmore white collared jobs which has led to creation of certain kind of built environment.Pre-industrial era where more and more people were involved in farming and primaryactivities, now more and more people are involved in the tertiary sector, economy.Now, that itself has implied an enormous pressure on the resource consumption. Afarmland which was cultivated by 100 farmers is now being cultivated by just handful offarmers, say 10. Now, to do that to continue farming they require more and moresophisticated machines. So, they are instead of working by hand manually they are moredependent on machines.On the other hand, the 90 who have shifted for from farming as an activity to more whitecollared job office job require more of office space, they consume more energy becauseof the kind of job they are involved in and things have changed that is the second reason. (Refer Slide Time: 06:02)The third is for this reason that there are more people in white collared jobs people areshifting to urban centers because these urban centers are the places where more and morewhitermore and more white white collared jobs are available. Iin villages or in suburbanareas in rural areas such white collared jobs are very less in number, the availability isvery less. So, the urban centers are becoming more and more dense, it is anticipated thatin the time to come almost 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in urbanareas.So, our urban areas are going to become denser and hence more and more problems inurban areas are going to emerge. And, because of this shift more and more people aredisplaced within their countries because of the conflict and violence. Conflict andviolence largely because of the conflict of availability of resources, there are lessresources available.So, there is a greater conflict and greater violence when cities the neighborhoods, theresidential areas become bigger there is less connectivity between humans and that alsoleads to larger reasons for conflict and violence. So, these are few major reasons whythese problems are happening, these are the root cause. (Refer Slide Time: 07:38)And as Ram Chandra Guha very aptly puts it. Currently, we are more people who areproducing more, we are traveling more, consuming more, excreting more and there is amuch faster rate of resource consumption than ever and a much faster pace at whichresources are being transformed into waste. So, the effects of these problems are visible.(Refer Slide Time: 08:00)There are traffic congestions in urban areas that is one of the problems which is there inurban areas there are so, many more. We are so many people there is hardly any space tobreathe. (Refer Slide Time: 08:11)There are no green areas, there are no open areas. So, the cities are becoming more andmore non-humanized, they are not human cities, humane cities at all.(Refer Slide Time: 08:18)There is a pressure enormous pressure on the resources. As Ram Chandra GhaGuha veryaptly discusses in his book how much should a person consume that is one good bookthat all of us should read. He discusses that this shift towards environmentalism andsuddenly people started discussing about environment. It actually did not happen suddenly,suddenly; it was because of a lack of the environment clean naturalenvironment which was earlier available to people.So, people often discuss about things of which they are deprived of for example, it wasin the times of industrial revolution that poets like words worth were there. So, the moreand more people were getting confined to the built hard cities and they were gettingaway from the natural environment, on the other hand there were more and more poetslike Words Worth who were writing about their love for nature. So, it is always arepercussion, it is always an effect impact of one phenomenaon as seen in the other.Earlier people did not go to the mountains, the mountains were considered to be hostilethey were considered to be wild and people did not go to the mountains. After industrialrevolution, people looked at Alps as a beauty natural beauty because that was what wasuntouched and available to them. So, because of certain problems which have beenhappening our responses have been changing, that is why it is imperative to look at thehistorical events, how historical events have changed..changed.Though when we are talking about sustainability; sustainability was never talked inliteral terms as sustainability or sustainable development. The term was coined muchmu,ch later; however, the discussions around it started happening from very stronglyfrom the year 1962 that was the year when the book named Silent Spring was published.(Refer Slide Time: 10:52) Silent Spring was written by Rachel Carson, and Rachel Carson was a PhD scholar andshe was studying the impact on water bodies. She was studying the water bodies whenshe came across the impact of large scalelarge-scale use of DDT. Spraying of DDT infarming fields and how this DDT the eutrophication led to killing of the aquatic lifewhich is what she pointed out, she researched and she published in the book named silentspring.In 1962 Silent Spring created such an uproar and people started knowing about theharmful effects of DDT from this book and it was one event which triggered world overthe impact of the use of such chemicals, and how industrial revolution is changing ourlives.(Refer Slide Time: 11:52)In 1970 the first Earth Day was observed. So, from 1962 the revolutions which startedhappening people started talking about the negative impacts of the chemical use ofchemicals and pesticides and industrial revolution on the environment, that is when forthe first timefirst-time earth was recognized as an entity which is living and first earthday was celebrated it was formulated. (Refer Slide Time: 12:26)In 1971, the Green Peace organization was formed, it was the organization was formedas a protest to the nuclear tests which were to take place in Alaska, and two scientiststwo crew members they set out on a fishing trawler to protest that nuclear test. However,it they still could not stop that the tests were carried out, but the Green Peace as afoundation as an organization it gathered a lot of support from Canada and US and restof the world gradually.(Refer Slide Time: 13:10) At the same time in 1973 Chipko movement happened in India and that was for the firsttimefirst-time people realize across the world that sustainability talking aboutsustainability is actually not a full stomach phenomena. As many of the scientists argue,people think prior to 1973 specially people use to think that sustainability or discussionsabout sustainability are for people who already have the basic amenities in their life.So, the western world, the developed world who has availability to clean water, clean airand the basic amenities they talk about sustainability because they already have theirstomachs full. However, in this village in Uttarakhand and prior to this 1973; in 18thcentury in Rajasthan similar kind of a movement had started. But, in 1973 this Chipkomovement in Uttarakhand came to the forefront and the world knew about it where thesewomen they hugged the trees stopping them to be from being felled and a lot of peopledied as a protest.Because, this community had understood realized the importance of natural environmentaround them and largely, because their life was dependent on it. From economic point ofview because they were dependent on forest produce for their economic well-being, fromsocial point of view because their lives revolved around these forests.And of course, they placed a lot of importance, they placed a lot of emphasis on thenatural environment which was around them. Aand culturally, socially these trees, theseforests placed were placed were regarded very high in their culture. So, Chipkomovement for the first time emphasized revealed that everybody could talk aboutsustainability and it is not just a full stomach phenomenaphenomenon. (Refer Slide Time: 15:28)In 1973 later, there was this OPEC oil embargo when the oil producing Arab nationsrefused to export the oil to US as a protest to American military support for Israel. And,that is when for the first time the world realized that when there is no fuel suddenly thelives comescome to a halt. And almost the world was paralyzed half of the worldspecially the developed world was paralyzed because they were so dependent on fuel andthe state which was then only for the developed nations is now almost everywhere.We cannot imagine our lives without electricity, without the de-conventional fuels wecannot imagine our lives without petrol and diesel being there because we thrive on that.When suddenly there was a crisis oil crisis that is when people started exploring the othermeans that was the first time when people started talking about renewable energy. Tillthen people had not realized the active or not had not explored the active usage of sun,wind, water for producing electricity, for producing energy not as much, there wereresearchers which were going on.So, the use of solar energy, the use of hydro power ah, the use of wind energy was stillbeing explored, but not as rigorously. Suddenly after this oil crisis the entire developednation focused it is energies towards exploring the renewable energy sources. (Refer Slide Time: 17:16)The environmental impact, the impact on the animals and other life forms the specieswas gradually being realized. And for the first time in 1973 United States enacted theEndangered Species ACT till then several species had already become extinct or theywere endangered. But,But there were no laws across the world to protect them culturally,socially in many countries and many places community’s people were protecting, but notas a law.So, for the first time the legislation was enacted and the Endangered Species ACT cameinto force which led to protection of habitat for this these endangered species, till thenhumans across the world could build anywhere. And gradually, almost all over the worldnow the habitat for animals for endangered species they are being protected because werealize that they have an equal right on the environment. So, it was for the first time that1973 the Endangered Species ACT got enacted in place. (Refer Slide Time: 18:40)In 1983, development alternatives as an organization was formed where their vision wasa world where every citizen can live secure, healthy and fulfilling life in harmony withnature. Development alternatives started taking up smaller projects for the betterment ofpeople in underprivileged areas underprivileged societies. So, such organizations startedcoming up where these social needs were being highlighted were being understood. So,gradually from the environmental focus people were also talking about the human lifethe social focus was there.(Refer Slide Time: 19:29) In 1983, the same year Professor Muhammad Yunus from Bangladesh, he found theGrameen bank. So, the economic dimension of it was also becoming evident. So, so faras we have seen historically gradually the focus which was largely towards theenvironmental dimension, environmental domain gradually started shifting towards thesocial and economic domain.So, this particular was a micro financing idea where this Grameen Bank would facilitatewomen specially in the underprivileged communities with small loan to set up their ownbusinesses, to set up their own works where they could generate, they could sustain, theycould sustain their families and economic income for their families and it was a hugesuccess. There have been several models several discussions after this Grameen Bankwas first formulated and lot of other similar models are being worked out across theworld.(Refer Slide Time: 20:29)From 1983 to 85, there was the deadliest of the Famines in Ethiopia which was there andlakhs and lakhs of people children died suffered and it was for the first time it wasrealized that the world is connected. The problems the activities happening in one part ofthe world are actually leading to miseries in some other part of the world and it isconnected. There were photographs which were published of the children who werestruck by famine, the people who were dying on a large scale and the world became more aware and sensitive of the untidiness the unity which exists. All this led to ourcommon future the Brundtland Commission Report.(Refer Slide Time: 21:25)So, United Nations formed this committee which was headed by Gro Harlem BrundtlandPrime Minister of Norway and under her chairmanship. The report our common futurewas published which for the first time placed on record in black and white whatsustainable development is and how should we define sustainable development.For the first time, the word sustainable development was used in this report OurCommon Future in 1987 and from then on we have been discussing about sustainabilityand sustainable development as commonly as it can be almost every domain of life anddevelopment has talked about sustainability some way or the other. So, this was for thefirst time that we talked about sustainability. (Refer Slide Time: 22:23)In 1988 there was a new policy on seed development which was to increase theproduction food production prior to that there was lesser availability of food, if we lookin look at the policy from Indian perspective also there used to be a shortage of food.And, after this 1988 and this new policy on seed development, the world has workedtowards developing hybrids and a lot of work in biotechnology and agricultural scienceshas taken place which has changed the entire scenario where the world at large frombeing food deficit has become food surplus.So, not just India, but in general world at large has become food surplus and there arevery rare cases where food is not available; economically, it may be a different story, butas far as availability of food is concerned it is definitely there. Since, all these problemswere going on and the environmental problems continue to increase. (Refer Slide Time: 23:39)After the Brundtland Commission Report was published in 87 the first Earth Summit ofRio De Janeiro which was held in 1992 was organized.(Refer Slide Time: 24:29)It was a large success and a big event where there were representations from all of theworld countries and people discussed about the earth environment and development. So,it was the conference on environment and developed development for the first time. Theworld was a party to it and world together the world leaders together started discussingabout the environment and development simultaneously. So, development cannot be at the cost of environment and environment cannot becompromised was the underlying theme. So, first time everybody together starteddiscussing about this. In 1993, the first session of the commission of sustainabledevelopment took place in New York and they started discussing the outcomes of the1991 Rio de Janeiro conference and to put it in tangible formats as action orientedactionoriented plans.(Refer Slide Time: 25:01)In 1995 the World Summit for Social Development was held in Copenhagen and it wasrealized that we just cannot talk about environment and people need to be put at thecenter of the development. So, the social dimension of sustainability started becomingstronger where it was already there as an underlying current. So, it had come to the forefor the first time in 1995 and placed on record. (Refer Slide Time: 25:31)In 1996, ISO 14001 the Environmental Management Standard was introduced whichhelped organizations to minimize how their operations or processes could be improvedcould be improvised. So, that they have least negative impact on the environment.So, there was a guideline in place which would help people. So, people were discussing,the world at large was discussing about reducing, minimizing the negative impact on theenvironment. This was this standard was made available in 1996 where it would helpguide people to achieve the aim.(Refer Slide Time: 26:17) In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was proposed though it was not very successful in bringingthe world parties the countries all the countries together till date. Yet, it was identifiedthat global warming is occurring it is happening and the world needs to reduce itsgreenhouse gas emission.Several countries have already signed Kyoto protocol; they have banned the use ofcertain compounds, certain processes in their countries and have committed to reduce thegreenhouse gas emissions. The work on Kyoto Protocol is still going on, but it was ahistoric moment, it was a historic event where the world recognized that the greenhousegas emissions they need to be curtailed cut down.(Refer Slide Time: 27:12)In 1998, the controversy on genetically modified organisms was brought to the fore. Itwas an after effect, it was a result of the seed policy which we saw from 1988. So, in1988 for food self sufficiency the world had moved from the conventional the traditionalseeds and the methods of farming to more hybrid seeds.And for the first time in 1998 the controversy on genetically modified organisms andcrops GMOs came to the front and it was an uproar and especially it became a topic ofcontroversy in the US. Gradually, this has happened across the world and people aretalking about genetically modified organisms. We also saw a lot of revolts andcontroversies happening in our own country around the same time couple of years later. (Refer Slide Time: 28:16)In 2000, United Nations Millennium Declaration was brought out and for the first timethe Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were listed. So, for the first time here all thethree dimensions were clearly listed tangibly listed in the form of these goals and themember states all the 189 member states of United Nations. They agreed to implementthese Millennium Development Goals or to achieve these Millennium DevelopmentGoals and it was agreed that by the year 2015 the poorest of the countries will be able toachieve the better living standards.(Refer Slide Time: 29:08) In 2002, the Earth Summit was held in Johannesburg exactly 10 years after the Rio deJaneiro, first Earth Summit and it was held to discuss what has been done in the last 10years though the progress was dismal. There was not much that the world had donedespite committing and there was lot more to be done and the world the environment haddegraded largely, but yet it was a very fruitful meaningful summit where the accountingthe measurement of how the world is going was done.(Refer Slide Time: 29:49)In 2009, the Conference of Parties, (COP 15) was held in Copenhagen and UnitedNations framework convention on climate change and the 5th meeting of parties to theKyoto Protocol was held. The world started agreeing on the climate change which iswhich was established by now and how each country would contribute towardsmitigating climate change. So, this was again a stock taking. (Refer Slide Time: 30:27)In 2006, Al Gore the vice president of United States, he published brought out this movieAn Inconvenient Truth where for the first time several very stressful phenomenahappening in the environment towards the climate change were showed, and the worldbecame aware and the world started discussing about the climate change as a phenomenamore seriously.You can watch this video, this trailer of An Inconvenient Truth and all the students whoare taking this course are requested to watch the movie An Inconvenient Truth andfamiliarize themselves with how the world is changing the world environment ischanging. (Refer Slide Time: 31:22)In 2015 Conference of Parties 21 was held in Paris.(Refer Slide Time: 31:31)And the expected key results result of the Paris protocol was the agreement to set a goalfor limited global warming to “well below 2 degree Celsius” compared to pre-industriallevels. Majority of the world agreed to this agreement the Paris protocol and it wasconsidered as a success and the movie An Inconvenient Truth. The parties to that theyhave trusted it they believed it to be a success because the world was coming together to agree to contain global warming, limiting global warming to well below 2 degree Celsiusto as compared to pre-industrial levels.(Refer Slide Time: 32:15)However, the world has been going on as usual the business as usual and the tones inwhich we were discussing about climate change and sustainability have also beenchanging. From an increased focus on environment from 1962 to gradually incorporatingthe stakeholders, peoplespeople’s participation. In 2017 when the sequel to theinconvenient truth which is the movie called An Inconvenient Sequel was released it hasa changed tone where it talks about capitalism, it in a way supports capitalism, but amore informed and sustainable consumerism.So, the world has gradually changed ourat perspectives toward sustainability havechanged, we have placed more focus on certain domains at certain different points oftime. And that is why at the end of it we see that the focus from environmentalperspective has been there in certain models, on economic perspective has been there incertain models and on social dimension has been there from a certain perspective.However, for any model on sustainability all these three models all these three domainsare essentially present. You can watch the trailer to An Inconvenience Sequel here. (Refer Slide Time: 33:54)So, in subsequent lectures when we start discussing about sustainable architecture. Wewould essentially know that there may be a greater emphasis on one of the domains, yeta discussion or an understanding about its impact on other domains will always be there.We may be talking more about environment because of our point of view or ourperspective, but yet our understanding of how it impacts society, culture and economyhas to be present that is all in lecture 4 today. See you in the next lecture.Thank you.