__The UN defines sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” When put this way, our current mode of development is evidently not “sustainable”: it exhausts non-renewable resources, both energy and water, it is damaging to the planet and produces changes in our climate… On a global scale, it is unconcerned with collateral damage (or what economists call “external factors”) and is handing down numerous problems to the generations to come. Even so, increased knowledge about the ecological effects of development and the first signs of global warming or the rarefaction of oil, is causing governments, public opinion and some businesses to open their eyes. Even if the effects seem unspectacular now, global warming allows us to envisage more sombre scenarios in the future.__


Our awareness of the problems posed by the exhaustible earth, the human race whose needs and number continue to grow, and a mode of production that is inefficient in terms of its consumption of natural resources, and little concerned with managing its waste, is not exactly new. Such awareness led the Club de Rome to jump the gun and shout “Stop the growth!” in 1972. Yet in less than a generation’s time, if we continue to use our current energy system, there will be threats to economic growth and quality of life, difficult social cohesion and a worsening of international tension.