The problem, however, is that this is not truly sustainable. The only things that are truly sustainable are those that are consumed at the same rate as the earth produces them or slightly slower – and things like coal and oil will never fit this description. True, long-term sustainability must come from renewability, while short-term sustainability can come from almost any resource, depending on the time frame.Many things can be done at a variety of levels in order to promote sustainability. In some ways, all of this comes down to personal choices – if everyone on earth lived in a sustainable way, the human population would be sustainable.On the individual level, the easiest things to do are conserve, reuse and recycle. However, it is important at every level to interact with the levels above you, so for an individual it is also important to combine with your community to promote sustainable lifestyles, engage with politicians and so on. I believe that communities have a role in creating sustainability especially through food production and coming together to support local agriculture. In the upper echelons, the state, federal, and international levels, much of sustainability comes down to money and willingness to use it in the right ways: giving tax breaks to companies that function sustainably or develop techniques to others who do so while taxing and regulating industries that fail to. Governments also need to fund research and development into sustainable technologies and fuels.Human innovation has done a great deal to increase human standard of living in a variety of ways. Large-scale food production and transportation networks have let to more nutritional availability (though some people refuse to use this, while others abuse it and overeat). Medicine and information technology have especially led to improved standards of living – only a couple of hundred of years ago people died of what are now preventable bacterial infections, while vaccinations have given immunity to a wide array of the most devastating viruses.Human progress also has a dark side, however, which is that much of this has been accomplished by harvesting eons worth of energy stored in coal and oil. In order to stop this process, it is important to harness innovation and use it in proper ways: discovering techniques to desalinate ocean water to provide drinking water to the millions who live
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Coal: Resources and Future Production, 47 page report by Energy Watch group, March 28, 2007 (revised July 10, 2007
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