Pentti Malaska, Prof. Dtech.


The main question of science and technology today is what kind of a relation they will enable us to build and maintain between the life supporting ecosystem and creation of well-being and fulfillment of human potentiality within the technosystem, i.e. the question concerning sustainability. Looking back to the origin of the human species one may claim that a sustainable relation has prevailed ever since our pre-human ancestors invented technology some 2-3 million years ago. The total number of the humans ever lived is about 100 billion, and at present the human population outnumbers one hundred thousand times any other species of mammals of comparable size. The 21st century will see a further increase of the human population and a growth of average per capita consumption as well as rapid development of technology. How do the present situation and the future look like from the sustainable development point of view? What kind of science and technology would be appropriate and adequate for the ethos of sustainability and progress? What pace of technological development in terms of dematerialization of production would be necessary for sustainable development and what about a sustainable economic growth in comparison with the current rate of growth? What role may a structural shift of the whole economy toward stronger dominance of services play in pursuing sustainability? Consumption should better be understood as the welfare production for which the economic production provides means. Hence it comes natural to talk about immaterialization of consumption (welfare production) as well as welfare productivity of GDP as important new concepts. Applying a new theoretical framework of sustainable development these questions can be quantitatively analyzed.

June 2000