We need to work in both directions, top-down and bottom-up. Living a sustainable life on a personal basis (from bottom-up) is very difficult due to the limitations placed on the decisions we can make for certain products and services (for example energy sources and food supply). These examples represent sectors that are best approached from a top-down approach. Greatest efficiency using the aforementioned examples can occur by concentrating energy production in the deserts where sunlight is constantly available but producing food nearby in wetter regions where less irrigation is needed. Without bottom-up support of these sustainable options, though, they will fail. For this reason, we need to work in both directions to achieve the best results.
I believe that both are necessary. While we need top-down solutions to put in place the infrastructure for normal, everyday people to live sustainably, those people with the resources and passion for the environment who are able to live sustainably are an important part of driving demand and showing governments and corporations that this is a desirable, achievable, and profitable goal.
This is a tough one, and a good question. Personally I think this needs to be at top down issue. First off right now the only way we’re going to make a real difference is if lots of the “big” ones (big business, big consumers, big schools, etc.) start being more sustainable. Then once we’ve established that base it becomes easier to convince people down the line to be more sustainable. This is more of a filling in the gaps type of method. I just don’t see bottom up as being an effective method at this point, we’re too late to try that.
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