What Technification and Modernization have done

Technification is a boon for farming as well as other industries.  For example, coffee production is technificized.  Coffee tree planting is modernized (planting new hybrids in organized fields to top off profits), but leaving fewer songbirds.  Songbird counts have steadily declined.  One exception is the Golden winged Warbler, a striking Neotropical songbird that winters in Central and South America, often on bird friendly coffee farms beneath a forest canopy. (All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2019)  Traditional shade trees not found on coffee farms on the other hand provide “Ecosystem services” ranging from storing carbon, saving water quality, and reducing the risk of soil erosion and landslides. (Amanda Rodewald, Scientific American 4-18-17) There are plans to make coffee sustainable.  One is Sustainable Coffee Challenge,  a collaborative effort to make it the world’s first fully sustainable agricultural product. https://www.sustaincoffee.org/about/

Likewise, fishing is technificized, a boon.  But due to modern methods, overfishing depletes almost all the reproduction of a species.  The fish are voided in whole sections of the oceans. Some scientists predict that the world’s fish will become extinct.  As a result, some ocean colony advocates want to stop all fishing. See http://wcfs2019.floatingsolutions.org/.  But there is hope in sustainable fishing practices.  For instance, there are some organizations that recognize and reward Sustainable fishing. One is the Marine Stewardship Council.  You can find their blue label on fish products. https://www.msc.org/about-the-msc/what-is-the-msc  For more information about this topic, see the blog article: http://www.lteconomy.it/blog/2018/12/14/a-word-about-sustainable-fishing/

Long Term Thinking vs. Sustainability

Dario Ruggiero [http://www.lteconomy.it/] ,  says ” A Long Term Thinker is the one who before he makes a decision (individual, business, institutional policy) starts to think about the consequences such a decision will have for future prosperity.  This [boon] can be individual, business, of the community, of the country, of the world.”   But I believe it is easy to mix sustainability and Long Term Thinking.  Long Term Thinking is a decision making process.  Sustainability is a concept of proofing resources and planet conditions for the future.  Long Term Thinking is the broader concept.  Some say: Does the end justify the means?  We as humans control the future with our progress in tools use.  So why not have a sustainable future?  Moreover, sustainability goes hand in hand with other goals in life.

Criticism of Sustainability

Note that there are critics who claim that this is all a market technique.  It drives more profit for the producer and distributors.  This is true in some cases.  But our push is to preserve the planet’s ecology for our children, our children’s children, and so on.  Hopefully this movement will show itself as a good.  Hopefully it is more than just a plea.

Differing Practices

Sustainability practices differ across economic sectors.  In hydropower for example, controlling the spill of dams to coincide with daily salmon movement and spawning allows more fish to migrate downstream.  At the same time energy production is increased and so are profits. The daily cycle is in harmony.  It is a win win.  When the fish reproduce and reach the ocean, they are eaten by larger fish such as whales. This makes for a stable food chain. This helps us in the future.  In farming and trees there are ways to mimic nature.  Crops are rotated, and mild fertilizers are used.  So there is sustainable forestry, farming, and fishing.

What the Search Engines Say

With no luck, others see sustainability as a fad.  This is like the concept of earth stewardship. It became popular. Then it peaked.  Then it fell into disuse.  Note that search engines report that the word “Sustainability” peaked in use about a year ago.  But we cannot let search engines run our lives, or our children’s lives.  You can read more about sustainable issues.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability.


In conclusion, I have touched on many issues in this article. These range from technical issues to notions about the definition and concept of Sustainability.  Then I moved to the broader issue of Long Term Thinking.  I leave it to you the reader to ponder your own ways, your own decisions, and your own ethos.  For the ethos, see the article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethos

Stephen Saunders

Executive Director, Long Term Economy | Member, LTE International Board | Internal Auditor

Stephen Saunders has 25 posts and counting. See all posts by Stephen Saunders

Stephen Saunders

3 thoughts on “Technification and Sustainability Issues

  • Vineet Mani

    Stephen, I simply loved the way you have brought forward the concept of Technification citing some selected sectors. It was unknown to me. Moreover, the way you have defined Long-Term Thinking and Sustainability and how can they get blended wonderfully is highly appreciable. Great going, Stephen.

    • Stephen Saunders

      Vineet, I had wrongly assumed that most all songbirds had been wiped out due to technification of coffee growing. This was based on something I read about certain birds species (songbirds) having been obliterated. And this is how I published this article. Then the Lab of Ornithology sent me a pretty bookmark showing how one bird species is doing spectacularly in friendly coffee regions. So I modified this article, which we have to do when we encounter updated information. Thank you for your great savvy about this.

      • Vineet Mani

        It is simply the ideal and organic approach that we shall modify our pieces of writing and update it so that most accurate information reaches the minds and hearts of those who are working towards sustainability and long-term thinking in their splendid ways. Thank you, Stephen.

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