24
九月
09

無限制的成長真的可以與環境生態共存嗎?


1458980ee03da2Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things 是一本在綠色設計或是永續設計領域中一本重要的文獻,我建議設計專業者或是對永續發展有興趣的人抽空閱讀這本書。這本書挑戰了當前工業製程的邏輯,並為工業設計如何走向較永續環保的方向提出精彩的見解,書中提供新的設計觀念頗具啟發性,但我也建議大家在讀這本書時,對書中的論點不要毫不保留的接受,我雖然相當同意書中大部分的論點,但對於作者認為「只要產品對工業製品對環境有正面,工業就可以無限制成長」的觀點,無法認同,在這篇文章中提出我對這個論點的評論,供大家參考。

(誠品好像有賣這本書,大學圖書館應該也可以借的到,另外,在豐泰基金會的網頁中對這本書有不錯的中文介紹和歸納,值得參考:http://www.fengtay.org.tw/paper.asp?num=34

人類似乎是地球上唯一有意識地不斷追求成長及發展的物種。1987年,「我們共同的未來」(Our Common Future)這本報告提出了所謂「永續發展」(Sustainable Development)的觀念,強調環境保護和經濟成長必須並存,並將定義永續發展為「符合當代需求,卻又不影響未來世代滿足他們需求的發展模式」。有趣的是,目前雖然人們已經意識到環境惡化產生的種種問題和危機,但是在尋求解決方法時,少有人會質疑「需求」、「成長」、或是「發展」背後的根本意義,我們的解決方式強調的是以比較「適當」或者說比較「環保」的發展模式來滿足人類需求,因此,所謂的「永續發展」基本上只是人類追求財富和成長的替代方式,比以往的發展模式多了些環境考量,目前已經成為時髦的口號,被視作人類未來發展的解答,但是基本上,永續發展的目的是確定成長或發展這回事會世世代代的持續下去。

在這樣的觀念之下,麼許多關於綠色或永續設計的文獻多半都抱持著成長(尤其是經濟成長)和生態環境的健全是可以、也必須同時兼顧的的論點,這些文獻不外乎著重於探討設計的本身該如何對環境友善。有部分環境主義者反對無限制的經濟成長,在Cradle to Cradle這本書中,作者不認同這些環境主義者認為工業成長的與環境永續無法並存的看法,並認為縮減人類的工業成長不該是綠色設計的關鍵,真正的關鍵反而是讓人類工業越來越壯大,而且想辦法讓工業的成長能夠修復滋養這個世界。在作者的觀念中,工業成長的本身並不是問題,只要透過好的設計:改善工業製程,改善工業產品,工業成長可以是一件好事;換句話說,作者認為只要我們想辦法讓所有的工業產品都設計成對環境有益而無害,製造再多的產品也對環境也不會有任何問題。作者舉了目前對環境造成沈重負擔、製造空氣污染的汽車為例,認為未來的汽車應該成為「空氣清淨器」,讓開車不但不會排放廢氣,反而可以潔淨空氣,而且,壽終正寢的汽車還可以在工業製程中回收,甚至可以透過生物分解,如果我們真的能夠設計出這樣的汽車,那麼「假如二十年後,即使地球上車輛的數目是目前的三倍也不成問題」,作者寫道。

Cradle to Cradle的作者的確為人類的永續發展描繪了美好的遠景:人類以及生態環境都能在無限制的工業成長下受益。但是,真的有這麼好的事?永無止盡的工業發展,大量的工業產品,即使是所謂「環保」產品,真的一點問題都沒有嗎?這樣的觀點未免太過天真,硬要說無限制的工業或經濟成長和環境保護可以兼顧,恐怕人類的自我欺騙。作者在倡導綠色設計的同時,卻忽略了當初造成造成我們生態環境惡化、大自然反撲、人類社會無法永續、威脅到下一代生存的根本原因,正是無限制成長的本身。

在大自然中,大部分的物種都有特定的天敵,生存的棲地也都會受到氣候或地理條件的限制,大自然創造了一系列的控制機制來抑制各種物種的無限制的成長,因此在大部分的情況下,不同物種彼此之間可以維持著相對穩定的關係,這樣穩定的關係其實對各個物種的生存和繁衍是正面的,維繫著生態系統的健全運作。人類的技術發展讓作為大自然物種之一的人類特別不用受到種種自然機制的限制,人類可以說沒有任何的天敵,而且幾乎可以任意的改造自然環境和氣候,讓人類棲息幾乎遍佈世界上任何一個角落,並且在人口上無限制的成長,然而,大量的人口的成長,讓整個地球生態嚴重失衡,影響到其他物種生存和繁衍的權力,造成人類與其他物種以及環境之間極度不平等的關係。人類的不斷成長和發展需要更多的空間,因此越來越多其他的物種失去了他們的生存空間;越來越多的人口需要更多糧食和水來餵養,因此越來越多的森林被夷為平地成為單一作物、講求高生產力的企業農田,無數的河流則被攔腰截斷以建造水壩;為了成長,我們必須投入大量的天然資源來作為工業產品的原料,因此其他物種和未來的人類所能分享到的天然資源就越來越少。

作者在Cradle to Cradle中為了支持他們「人口和成長不是問題」的論點,舉了螞蟻為例,認為螞蟻就跟人類一樣,數量驚人且遍佈全世界,如果螞蟻的成長對環境不會造成問題,那麼人口的成長也可以不用成為問題,只要我們用「對」的方式來成長。 這並不是一個很好的類比,因為,螞蟻的存在,即使是大量螞蟻的存在,對環境造成的改變與人類比起來是微不足道,而且當人類追求成長時,我們不可避免的需要更多的資源投入,需要對自然環境作出更多的改變來滿足人類需求,只要我們取用了更多的自然資源,對環境產生進一步的改變,就會造成地貌以及物種多樣性的減少。因此,不管是作者提倡所謂比較環保的「好」成長,或是當前人類不永續的成長模式,只要是無限制的成長,都會讓地球生態系統中人類與其他物種以及環境間的關係越來越不平等,只會讓地球成為以人類為主的單一文化,人類的成長也許暫時能夠持續,但沒有其他多樣物種和環境的支持,人類所謂的「永續」只是暫時的,追求無限制的工業成長是短視近利的。

當前,許多所謂永續設計或是綠色設計或是環境的解決方案,並不是沒有潛在問題的(這點其實在Cradle to Cradle書中作者自己也有提到),例如,可再生的生質能源漸漸成為石化燃料的熱門替代品,有著無限的潛力,使用生質能源是一件好事,但是想像一下,在能源需求不減的情況下,完全以生質能源來取代石化能源,未來我們將會看到大片大片單一的能源作物取代了原有多樣的地貌和作物,作物越來越單一,造成生物多樣性喪失。同樣的,可以清靜空氣甚至可被生物分解的汽車的確比目前的汽車來的環保,但但如果人類的汽車的需求不減,要製造為數眾多的「環保車」需要大量非常類似的資源,再想像一下,一個充滿類似的所謂環保無害的汽車和其他工業產品的地球,如何還能夠在生物上、地理上、以及文化上豐富多樣?這是不可能的事情。我們應該要體認,沒有任何一樣所謂「環保」的產品,即使量多都不會產生任何副作用,就舉水為例子,水對人類和環境再好也不過,但是太多的水成了水患,就產生了災難。

當然,我們仍是可以相信人類的生存和持續繁衍是可以與生態環境永續共存的,但是,人類無限制的繁衍和追求經濟或工業成長不可能對環境不造成任何危害,Cradle to Cradle作者主張無限制的工業成長是不切實際的,如果人類對自己的需求和成長不做任何妥協,要達成真正的生態環境保護的是不可能的。作者和其他抱持工業成長觀念的人,都犯了一個嚴重的錯誤,認為科技和設計的改革可以消除人類追求成長所帶來的負面效應。作者在書中引用了愛因斯坦的論點來談工業製程的革命:愛因斯坦說,「如果我們要解決一個困擾著我們的問題,我們的思維就應該超越當初製造問題時所用的思考模式」,因此,既然人類在人口、經濟和財富、以及消費的無限制增長是造成人類社會不永續的原因,那麼擁抱成長怎麼可能能夠解決問題呢?套句作者批評現有的工業製程所用的話,「為什麼要想辦法讓錯誤的系統最佳化」?

根據愛因斯坦的話,我們用來解決當前人類社會不永續的思維模式,應該要超越僅僅提倡所謂「好」的發展,提倡「永續發展」,我們更應該思考的是,無限制的發展和成長真的有必要嗎?人類可不可以在最小的成長和發展下來支持人人類的存在和適度繁衍?人類如何有節制的發展並與其他物種保持比較平衡的關係?如果我們現在不開始檢討無限制成長的必要性,我相信,任何號稱綠色獲永續的解決方案,都無法真正人類走向永續的未來。

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(這篇文章是從自己寫的一篇英文報告翻譯過來的,我把我的英文原文附在這邊供中英對照)
Growth and Sustainability

Liao, Kuei-Hsien

Human beings seem to be the very species on earth that has been consciously striving for growth and more development.  In 1987, the Brundtland Commission delivered the report of Our Common Future, coining the term “sustainable development” for pursuing economic growth while protecting the environment.  It is defined that “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."  Although environmental crisis has raised people’s awareness of the existing unsustainable pattern of development, when it comes to solutions, few people would question the fundamental meaning of development and growth. The focus has been on exploring more appropriate development pattern to meet human needs.  Basically an alternative pattern for growth, for pursuing wealth that requests more attention to environmental issues, sustainable development has become a fashionable motto and is believed to be the answer to human future, and the purpose is to make sure development can be sustained for generations to come.

It is then not surprising that much of the literature on sustainable or green design takes the view that human needs/growth and environmental health should be achieved at the same time, striving for developing theories and measures for more environmentally appropriate design conduct.  In Cradle to Cradle, McDonough and Braungart argue that “the key is not to make human industries and systems smaller, as efficiency advocates propound, but to design them to get bigger and better in a way that replenishes, restores, and nourishes the rest of the world” (p.78).  In their ideology, “growth” itself is not the problem, and through better design of the products, growth can contribute to “more niches, health, nourishment, diversity, intelligence, and abundance” and can be a good thing—as long as we make industrial products beneficial to the environment, we can produce as many of them as we want without a problem.  They assert that “if there are three times as many cars in twenty years as there are today on the planet, of course, it won’t matter very much”  if they are designed to purify the air instead of emit polluting gas and their materials can eventually go back to biological and technological cycles.

McDonough and Braungart depicts an exciting future scenario where both human beings and the environment can enjoy and benefit from unbridle industrial growth.  Is there really such a good thing? I am afraid not.  Providing an important concept for green design, McDonough and Braungart however fail to see the real problem threatening future human generations: growth itself.  Most species have natural predators and their habitats are limited to certain physical and climate conditions.  Nature has a set of mechanisms that control the population of the species so most of the time rather balanced relationships among various species are maintained.  This balance is beneficial to all species, contributing to the healthy dynamics in the ecosystems.  Technology has freed human beings from the control of these natural mechanisms—human beings do not have any predator, can inhabit virtually anywhere, and grow without natural limitation. Human growth has overwhelmed the entire earth ecosystem and despoiled other species of rights to survive and prosper, creating a fairly imbalanced relationship with other species and the environment.  We require too much living space so other species lost their habitats; we need too much food and water so forests and rivers are destroyed and appropriated for monocrop plantations and dams; we generate too much industrial products so fewer natural resources are left for both human and nonhuman species.  McDonough and Braungart use the species of ant as an example to demonstrate that population and productiveness should not a problem for the rest of the world.  However, it should be recognized that ants’ existence exerts negligible impact to other species, but when we human beings pursue growth, we inevitably demands more inputs from and change in nature, hence the loss of biodiversity. Be it good growth or bad growth, any unbridle growth creates huge imbalance in the earth ecosystem, simply working to sustain the monoculture of human temporarily.

Many sustainable solutions are not without potential problems (just as mentioned in Cradle to Cradle). For example, using renewable energy is a good thing, but as bio-fuel has gained increasing popularity, it might contribute to acres of acres of energy crop plantation with the loss of plant biodiversity if the demand of energy never reduced.  Similarly, cars that can purify the air and even biodegradable are wonderful, but to produce a large amount of them would trigger major exertion of resources of similar kinds. How can one expect a planet full of seemingly benign automobiles and other “green” industrial products to be biologically, geologically, and culturally diverse?  Nothing in the world that is good would still be so when there is too much of it. Water is good and essential for our life, but it becomes harmful when we have too much of it, in the form of floods.

The wellbeing of Human species can coexist with environmental health, but the attempt to achieve everlasting industrial growth and sustainability is unrealistic.  So far most of the so-called sustainable solutions are merely being “less bad”.  By emphasizing industrial growth, McDonough and Braungart have too fallen into one of the “isms” that they are opposed to.  They simply embrace an “ism” that believes in growth and development and in which technology and design revolution can eliminate the negative effects normally associated with growth.  Albert Einstein’s observation is mentioned in Cradle to Cradle that “if we are to solve the problems that plague us, our thinking must evolve beyond the level we were using when we created those problems in the first place” (p.165).  Since our unbridled growth in population, economic wealth, and consumption is exactly the problem that plagues us in the first place, there is no reason we should solve it by embracing it.  Using McDonough’s and Braungart’s own words, “why optimize the wrong system?”

Out thinking should go beyond merely promoting good growth.  Why don’t we contemplate how human lives can be sustained and be meaningful with minimum growth and development?  How we can create a truly balanced relationship with other species?  Green design theories and techniques have been explored by designers for a while, and maybe it is time for the designers to pay more attention to the larger perspective. If we do not re-examine the fundamental meaning and necessity of growth, none of the design solutions can truly be “eco-effective” enough to solve the environmental crisis we face today.

From http://blog.yam.com/user/kueihsienl.html

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