We cannot predict the future with certainty, but we can create possible scenarios. In sustainability one looks at trends such as in the ecology, economy and society to form possible images or scenarios of the future. For example one can see increasing policies supporting sustainable development, more companies to engage in sustainable production processes or at least ESG and also increasing consumer interests in such. Therefore, one could imagine that in 2050 earth will be quite sustainable, whatever that means exactly.
Can the future be predicted accuratly?
There is certain bias to it because we find daily changes, but also unexpected events that may drastically influence our imagined scenario. Such an example is Covid-19 or the Ukraine Russian war that hugely impacted and still does in terms of efforts towards sustainable development; energy transition, cooperation, peace building opportunities and unexpected emissions such as from war, also the fact that while people care, some do not and some may do differently.
Can unexpected events be accounted for?
To take these unexpected events into account wild cards can be used. Wildcards can relate to any event that can have a major impact, for example a terrorist attack, an earthquake, a pandemic, or more individual an unplanned pregnancy, a Sexual Transmitted Disease or other illnesses not accounted for etc. . These are important to take into account because as seen in the examples before, they can hugely disrupt predictions. [Can you think of more?]
Why are wildcards important?
Wildcards are important because the future is too uncertain to predict it fully, so wildcards help to think about what other scenarios could occur and how to prevent them or what could be done in the case of their occurrance. Often these can help in minimizing possible risks. One of such examples is intelligence analysis, in which possible scenarios are quickly predicted to, for example, prevent fatalities or economic shocks. However, they may and they may not include wildcards or they may be based on them.
“This is likely to happen, lets therefore implement a policy here or increase security there or pay attention to there.”
Can scenario analysis be biased?
Yes, this can happen by taking into account narrowed views, biased sources or limited expertise. This can happen because of personal and collective bias or because of limited or biased information used to predict the future. For example the scenario of the sustainable earth I described at the beginning is purposely very one sided, focusing only on “positive” developments; whereby likely many companies may not care or cannot care about sustainability. The same can account for people and different countries too. So the future of earth may as much be sustainable as much as it won’t or a mix of it. This is imporant to be aware of to understand possible bottlenecks such as the impact of poverty or inequalities that can serve as barrier for interests in sustainability as a whole.
Can bias be avoided?
I believe that bias cannot be avoided fully, because there most often is personal and collective bias, but bias can be reduced such as by fact-checking news- sources; by looking carefully validating and evaluating information (cross-referencing) as well as by checking into different developments. Of course one should do so in a particular lign of interest and boundaries (time/space/directions).
Can bias be encouraged?
One may also go with imagining any future such as done most often in science-fiction and here work fully with possible bias and hence, imaginary. Yet, the reality of how to get there, might be a bit vague, a bit too much of phantasma so that future predictions becomes quit difficult to predict with certainty or possibly unrealistic.
Questions? Let me know and also if you want more on that topic. Below you can find my summaries.
Walsh, P. (2011). Intelligence and intelligence analysis. Willan.
Some of my acquintances retire and I hear them talking about the things they will do or not after their jobs end, or already do or don’t. Some are happy and some seem dissatsified. “How is your retirement? ” I ask someone and he’d reply that well the notion is most elderlies go on hikes, I did too once, but now I want to go on about my day and life. I actually miss working because it gave me a sort of purpose. Not that I liked it, but hm oh well. I’ll find something to do.”
This and further conversations, made me think about what life I want to live, if when I set a seemingly “psychic end” to work life already, or center my thoughts on life after retirement, for which I don’t know how it will be like anyways, if the life I live is pursued because of generiousity to myself, or because of my imagined after-worklife retirement. If for the latter, does this result in me working too much, a job I possibly dislike or follow because of its financial incentives? I write so, because so often I hear” I can’t wait for retirement, finally to do the things I enjoy.” I feel it should be “I am looking forward to life itself “.
Retiremenet often seems to be perceived as the end of life phase. A start of a new life, which in retrospect is a continuity of life as whole. If someone has experiernced furstration before, they will continue to experience it after.
Yet in the retirement phase, I feel that increasing levels of loneliness or dissatisfactions suddenly originate too. In one way not doing anymore what one possibly did not like, let’s say the factory work and therefore prone to experience an increasing emptiness “How to fill such lack of work now with what type of meaning?” And in other ways not being able to continue to do what one has previously liked “industrial design,” for example because one is now the retired.
It made me think about notions to the end of life; whether a career or profession could be sustained that creates a particular meaning in the “retirmenet phase”, a form of continuity. And at the same time what form of activities could possibly be pursued so that one who experiences such a huge loss of work, even if it didn’t pleasure, can fill their time with a different form of meaning and pleasure that not necessarily relates to hiking and playing Bingo only.
Why does this worry me?
I began thinking about the retirment phases of my grandmother(s), and other elderlies in elderly homes or different forms of care; some that still lived through WW2 or the aftermaths. Some that simply lived. Some who complained at me that they didn’t want to be read out children stories or bake cookies all the time, but how much they still want to feel alive in other notions too; to design, to engineer, to teach. I guess they could, but yet they aren’t often offered the opportunity, even to fall in love again at 80 or to start a new business, if they wanted to.
Why can’t we be more engaging with the elderlies? someone could ask and the reply would be “dementia” or other symptoms of aging. But I’d say that between those moments of amnesia, there is some depth of joy that can be experienced, even if forgotten after. Though parts of it, the joy felt, the emotions, stored in the lower brain regions, they likely won’t be forgotten that easy.
Why does this matter, why does this relate to sustainability?
Just like babies, our brains still want to be stimulated. And possibly similiar to babies and brain growth; if such stimulation little exist, then brain is more likely to experience detoriation. And when we talk about detoriation of the brain, we can also talk about increases in somatic and other forms of illnesses. Furthermore, loneliness and lack of engagment turn into a major public health concern. In fact, it already is.
I wrote this blog in the light of the US Supreme Court ruling on overturning abortion rights. I also write this blog, because I had an abortion myself. In that sense I am biased and in the same sense I understand how important access to abortion and particular safe abortion is. Following I have listed 6 arguments I have read most about to avoid pregnancy and to carry on with it. Most of the arguments are based on the ideals of (avoiding) pregnancy and (mother)hood that no longer hold true. I wrote (mother)hood, because in parenthood also the father is involved. I highlight motherhood since pregnancy is about the woman and her autonomy over her body (at least it should be).
I write about ideals and their lack and post this here, because we tend to idealize so much, that decisions taken tend to not fully align with the realities that exist, but more likely the ideals of realities, also known as fantasy. This does not only apply to the abortion case, but one can also see this in other fields, in which actions are taken based on ideals, but no longer the realities, that diversity and a globalized world with inequalities bring with them. And that is; risky.
Argument 1;Why not avoiding pregnancy?
One of the key arguments that can be found on social media is that pregnancy is inevitable avoidable. That is by using contraception such as the condom and birth control. I write about these two, because they are most commonly used. Now, people have sex for different reasons in different circumstances and choose to use and not to use contraception, not because they don’t know about it, but because they don’t want to. Because it is like that; Sometimes people are horny, they do it in the heat of the moment. They may use the pull-out method instead, but how difficult must it be to pull out before an orgasm? I am not a man, but I imagine it to be challenging. In other instances, people might have drunk sex and are careless. What about reboundsex with the ex? There are also instances in which condoms are used, but for the many reasons they may slip off with the orgasm, or before. I did not like using birthcontrol because it made me feel tired and so I believed in the “calendar” method, which did not work out at all. Of course, there are also instances, in which a lack of education leads to unprotected sex. There may be wishful thinking, of course there are also extreme cases of rape and other reasons why people have unproteted sex.
Argument 2. You can get a baby, regardless what situation you are in
When I looked further through other social media posts and comments, one can easily find different recommendations on how to carry on with the pregnancy. In doing so one disregards the circumstantiality in which people get pregnant and speaking for diverse people and particular woman that I met throughout my life; disregarding the hardship of poverty, the hardship of lacking access to maternal care, the hardship of battling mental health problems, the hardship of being a single parent with little income, the hardship of domestic violence (emotional/physical), the hardship of combining a career with children, the hardship of being too young of a parent, the hardship of an affair, the hardship of wanting to persue studies, the hardship of too much uncertainty, the hardship of a relationship one is potentially forced into, simply not wanting, … .
Argument 3; Having a baby will make you happy.
Ideally speaking and also according to google bias, when you type “pregnancy and/or parenthood”, it appears so joyful, its beautiful. Particular the mother, can find herself in the best time, well taken care of with ideally a supportive husband and if not married one can quikly go to the church to ensure a lifetime relationship; ready to pursue the American Dream. For single parents there is according to google bias also little hardship; one can find the happy single dads throwing their happy children into the air and for others it seems as if there is indefinite support.
These ideas do no longer hold true, because of the bias they imply. When I found out I was pregnant I had just ended a relationship that was no longer nurturing. I had no money, and after working and studying abroad for 7 years and having no emotional support coming back, but also having my first paid long-term job, it was the most unideal situation for myself having a baby. I had not felt calmness for myself in a long time and I wouldn’t be able to offer calmness and consistancy at that point either to myself nor the child privately. The cicumstantiality decided against it. The circumstances or as Adam Shechter (Psychotherapist) calls it on his instagram account; the psychicic pregnancy was non ideal.
We also no longer live the American Dream. People break up and marriage no longer is “a life-time insurance” and neither does it say anything about how people love, how nurturing the relationship is, how healthy it is for the baby. There is little happinness, when what is, is not happy. So is also a single dad or a single mom not always happy.
Argument 4: The baby will help you solve your relationship problems
I remember feeling the relief of a break-up, but also the sadness with it. I remember the tears as my pregnancy test would show positive. I did not want the relationship to continue. Inevitabely I was suggested that the baby would help bond with the partner. Most people would do it like that. I strongly disown that. A baby should not be used as a means for couples to stay together. Because when you do not function as a couple independent of a baby, you do not function as a parent. And you have to function as a parent if you want to raise a child healthy. Thinking that a baby will fix all the relationship problems is wrong. It may even trap people in relationships (not only romantic ones but also family relationships, friendships, work relationships) that are no longer nurturing.
Argument 5: When one is pregnant, they will do automatically a good job at being a parent
Nowadays, families do not live together anymore. Families hereby may compromise “father, mother, grandparents, cousins, and other friends” in which children can be taken care of. We live more scattered now. We live more isolated (particular in Germany), where taking care is often the primary responsibility of one care-taker or a couple. Dr. Bruce Perry, a child neurologist who I had attended a policy roundtable on maternal health care in Calfifornia with, tends to write and teach about how important the role of community in attachment, regulation and healthy brain development is. An isolated family system, reduces that. It also reduces a single parent to the primary care taker, after which the primary care taker may no longer take enough care of themselves. It increases stress and pressure and parenthood no longer is “ideal”.
In addition, being a parent is no longer leaving the kids to play video games. Being an attuned parents requires time. TV and playstation cannot raise a child. Parents have to engage their children, support them in becoming the version that is true to them and does not appeal to what we learn in media only. Parents have to raise their children in a world with wicked and yet so complex challenges that the role of a parent no longer is as ideal and easy as it might have looked like many years ago. It wasn’t even then. Ultimately, the ideals no longer hold, after which an abortion may no longer be perceived un-ideal.
The last Argument 6: You can give your baby up for adoption
Just, no! Fostercare is one of the worst systems that exist. In university I interned at the NGO Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in California, USA, where foster children are matched up with volunteers to provide some sort of consistancy for at least two years. That form of consitancy and nourishing relationship was perceived as essential, since fosterhomes are often overcrowded. There children are often being displaced to other foster homes, and the older they get the longer they stay. The longer they stay the higher the burdon on their mental health. I did not want that! And I know many others don’t either.
Why do safe abortions and access to legal matter?
Abortions will always be happenning, because of the beforementioned. They will continue to happen because of the lack of ideals and the circumstantiality after which people get pregnant. If abortions happen unsafely, there are high risks for the mothers health. For instance, the abortion pill consists often of two pills. The first one in which the fetus detaches from the uterus and the second one in which the fetus (if not already discharchged) is discharged through contractions the second pill iniatiates. However, it has to be verified that the fetus is discharged, because it is harmfull if it stays inside the uterus. A fetus may also stay attached to the uterus (if the pill did not work out) with yet unknown birth harms.
Is all unwanted pregnancy bad?
I want to write about this, because of the critical text I wrote first. I do believe that not all unwanted pregnancy is bad and I also believe that there is often no ideal moment to become a parent. Its a challenge and we have to grow into. But I do believe that there are lack of ideals, which have to be recognized because of the “risks” that a continuation of pregnancy can bear to the parent(s) and the child.
Around 300,000 years ago, homo sapiens were named as the first human species, though distinct from what we would refer to as humans today or according to Charles Darwin (treaties on evolution), 200,000 years ago. Although different, both had something in common. They hunted and gathered and as hunting and gathering was limited to time and space and therefore the resources time and space provided, so did both depend on relocation.
The benefit of changing locations where that different nutrients were obtained and digested. Most nutrients were fresh and they supported the variety of minerals and vitamines needed -(ideally of course) and not limited to what “tasted good” today. They moved, they rationed and they likely were concious of what they had. They were very likely aware of what it meant to be hungry or not.
What do we eat today?
Today food is constantly available in variances per single food category (think about how many types of apples exist), the different types of pasta, other grains and all sorts of cheeses up to cereals, marmelades and other diary products. They come in different flavours, from different origins, they are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, sugar free. They are pre-cooked and not. They come with sauces (how does the actual food taste if not for preservates? Would I even like it?). They come without, sometimes with toppings, sometimes with chemical flavours and or they may be called food but aren’t (using flavored wood-chips to replace strawberries). They may be organic, they may be not or they may be a mix of it. That is what we eat.
Why do we buy food?
Unlike the homo sapiens, we do not have to hunt and gather for food. Food is available, because it is. Hereby I am talking particular about any place/country/region, where there is a surplus of food. It means more food is available then is or can be consumed or is needed. The more choices, the more difficult to decide what to consume. The more choices the higher the discrepancy between why we eat and what we want to eat. Do we buy because we are hungry? Do we buy because we want to eat? Do we buy because it looks nice to eat? How does this affect the availability or production of more food (choices)?
Ever thought about what role design plays in food consumption? Are fridges too large? Do fridges need to be full of food or is less food full enough? Do we feel we have too less because the fridge is not full enough? How much full is full enough?
When do we eat?
It feels as if we are eating almost all the time, snacks, small meals, large meals. There are small meals at work, small snacks on the way home. Individual snacks for rewards, snack rewards on a trip to the play ground, meals on a hike, snacks on a hike. Snacks infront of Netflix, snacks in the movies, snacks for the day of, large meals for festivities, buffets, more snacks for holidays, meals because the “clock” says so, meals because its a tradition, all-you-can eat restaurants, too much food as a sign for wealth, certain types of meals because its always been eaten a certain way, in a certain style, in a certain fashion, a certain type of food. When are we hungry?
When a movie in itself is already stimulation, do we need more stimulation i.e. food? Although, the stimulation of food tends to be limited to the time eaten.
When are we hungry?
This morning, when I woke up, I was not hungry. Yesterday, after one hour kick-boxing I was not hungry. Playing one hour on a play-ground with a child, I was not hungry, neither was the child as we just ate a meal; But it “wanted something to eat.” I was hungry 2 hours after. Then I got really hungry, but I knew I was hungry. I felt it because my stomach said so, I could not focus well and I felt it was time. I ate. I am not hungry, when I procrastinate and therefore eat. I am not hungry, when I am not happy with writing but eat to get a reward or to avoid. I am not hungry, when I look for an external stimulu, when the stimulu has to be found internal. And where there is no stimulu, I have to find out why. What feeling am I trying to compensate with food?
Is there enough time to cook “real” when hungry?
We work, hours, days, weeks and months. Some work more, some work less hours. Some volunteer, some are full-time parent, some are not. Some have more time, some have less time to cook – when they are about to get hungry and when they are hungry. Cooking hungry is no fun. Cooking something healthy (in terms of meals that require longer preperation), something fresh when being hungry could be annoying, frustrating, time-consuming, senseless, sad, whatever, especially if the work-hours are long, children and ourselves have to be taken care of. It makes a pre-cooked meal, a wood-chip joghurt, fast food, a bag of chips, whatever goes fast appealing. Could that be changed if we had more time?
Sometimes we talk about packaging waste. It’s about why this sort of waste occurs also. Can we work less and invest more time in ourselves [cooking, friends, hobbies, families?). Does this reduce waste and stress, fast-related eating?
Sustainable transition in food practices?
I would argue it is systemic. Its about having more time and about being aware when a feeling is substituted with food as oppose to when food is a need “to be hungry”. At the same time there is too much food, including too many food choices, and too little food in terms of healthy quality. There may also be the lacking time to cook healthy, or pleasure might be looked at somewhere different. Cooking for example is also work.
Aarnio, T., & Hämäläinen, A. (2008). Challenges in packaging waste management in the fast food industry. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 52(4), 612-621.
Blundell, J. E., & King, N. A. (2007, September). Overconsumption as a cause of weight gain: behavioural–physiological interactions in the control of food intake (appetite). In Ciba Foundation Symposium 201‐The Origins and Consequences of Obesity: The Origins and Consequences of Obesity: Ciba Foundation Symposium 201 (pp. 138-158). Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Kaye-Blake, W. (2009, July). What psychoanalysis can tell economists about food consumption. In 50th Annual New Zealand Association of Economists Conference, Wellington (pp. 1-3).
Kemp, E., Bui, M. Y., & Grier, S. (2013). When food is more than nutrition: Understanding emotional eating and overconsumption. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12(3), 204-213.
Leach, G. (1976). Energy and food production. IPC Science and Technology Press.
Ncube, L. K., Ude, A. U., Ogunmuyiwa, E. N., Zulkifli, R., & Beas, I. N. (2021). An overview of plastic waste generation and management in food packaging industries. Recycling, 6(1), 12.
Pelchat, M. L. (2009). Food addiction in humans. The Journal of nutrition, 139(3), 620-622.
Rosenheck, R. (2008). Fast food consumption and increased caloric intake: a systematic review of a trajectory towards weight gain and obesity risk. Obesity reviews, 9(6), 535-547.
Ziauddeen, H., & Fletcher, P. C. (2013). Is food addiction a valid and useful concept?. obesity reviews, 14(1), 19-28.
Throuhgout the last years, bamboo has been engineered into various products. Due to its fast growth and its tensile strenght, I frame engineered bambo as a niche resource that directly competes with timber. With my Master thesis, I concluded that bamboo boards outweight timber products made from oak, maple, walnut, birch and cherry in terms of its strength properties and durability. Likewise, engineered bamboo outweights timber in terms of its properties and is perceived as an excellent building material, if it is less visible or more available with greater design variance.
How does bamboo compare to other construction materials?
Cement, concrete, aggregates, metals, bricks, clay are the most common types of non-renewable resources used in construction. Next to these natural materials, wood is also used frequently (Wang, 2018).
Cement, is a binder, a substance used for construction that sets, hardens, and adheres to other materials to bind them together. There is no present bamboo cement replacement.
Concrete and cement are often used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and cement. While it is not possible to fully replace concrete with bamboo, it is possible to produce bamboo reinforced concrete (Karthik et al., 2008)
Currently steel reinforcement is used frequently to provide additional tensile strength and energy absorption capacity to concrete members. But conventional M.S. (Mild steel) or HYSD (High Yielding Strength Deformed) bars are heavy in weight, costly, nonrenewable and un-ecofriendly material. To mitigate this concern a sustainable, renewable, ecofriendly material like bamboo can be used as steel substitute. Using bamboo reinforcement can improve the flexural performance of slab panels (Mali and Datta, 2018).
However Archila, Kaminski, Trujilo, Escamilla and Harries (2018) describe that “the poor durability and bond characteristics of bamboo require through-thickness treatment and additional surface treatment of bamboo reinforcement, respectively. Such treatments, as described in the literature, are labour intensive, costly, and often utilise materials of known toxicity .”
Metals are commonly used in the construction industry due to their durability and strength to form structural components, pipework, cladding materials and other components.
Bamboo isstronger than the metal steel, in regards to the tensile strength. Overall, the ratio of tensile strength between the weight of bamboo is six times greater than of steel. If treated and processed well, buildings can be fully engineered with bamboo. As highlighted above, bamboo can be used as concrete reinforcement and steel alternative.
Construction aggregate, or simply “aggregate”, is a broad category of coarse to medium grained particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, recycled concrete and geosynthetic aggregates. Aggregates such as sand are the most mined materials in the world. According to the World Economic Forum (2019), between 32 and 50 billion tonnes of aggregate (sand and gravel) are extracted from the Earth each year. Excessive sand mining of river deltas, such as the Yangtze and Mekong, is increasing the risk of climate-related disasters, because there’s not enough sediment to protect against flooding.
In Manlapas, Cardenas and Anacta (2018) study, they produced concrete samples with 1% and 3% bamboo fibers as additives. It was concluded that the addition of bamboo fiber increases the compressive strength of concrete. Substituting coarse aggregates with certain percentage of bamboo fiber produced a decreasing trend on its flexual strength, though it increased as the bamboo fiber composition/materials increased.
Another study incoroporated bamboo ash into fly ash geopolymer concrete. It concluded that bamboo ash can be one of the alternatives to geopolymer concrete when it faces exposure to high temperatures.
I found only one website that sells” bamboo bricks” , but it does not describe the content of the bricks. Another study applied bamboo waste material (charcoal) on ecobricks.
Different types of wood and wood materials are also used for the construction of buildings. The company SwissKrono, produces prefabricated timber construction and uses a mix of timber and non timber material on project base. Solid timber constructions involve prefabricated sturby but relatively lightweight walls, ceilings and roof modules that are assemblied on the construction site. Other materials include the construction frames which are stabilised with OSB panels. There are also penalised constructions, in which walls and ceilings are largely prefabricated.
These type of constructions can also be produced from bamboo and likely outweight timber due to its lightweight, strength and hardwood characteristics. In addition, bamboo already matures within three to five years and could therefore serve as an alternative resource next to controversial produced timber , particular from the tropics.
A barrier for a fully ecological bamboo utilzation is the type and the amount of chemicals used for the production of engineered bamboo products. If bamboo products are produced in closed loop systems or if bio-based resins are used, bamboo could serve as a sustainable and circular building opportunity. Another option would be to produce modular bamboo buildings or components, that can be re-used at the end of the buildings life cycle.
The future of the bamboo building industry looks promosing, particular as a result of bamboo being a strong and lightweight material. However, at the moment, it seems difficult to replace conventional building materials such as cement, concrete and aggregates with bamboo. The main potential of bamboo remains in being an alternative to steel as bamboo composite material and as major structural support for buildings. Bamboo also holds huge technical potential as “background matrial” (i.e. MDF/OSB plates/ foundation).
Questions? Please contact me.
Archila, H., Kaminski, S., Trujillo, D., Escamilla, E. Z., & Harries, K. A. (2018). Bamboo reinforced concrete: a critical review. Materials and Structures, 51(4), 102.
Karthik, S., Rao, R. M., Awoyera, P., Akinwumi, I., Karthikeyan, T., Revathi, A., … & Saravanan, S. (2018). Beneficiated pozzolans as cement replacement in bamboo-reinforced concrete: the intrinsic characteristics. Innovative Infrastructure Solutions, 3(1), 50.
Mali, P. R., & Datta, D. (2018). Experimental evaluation of bamboo reinforced concrete slab panels. Construction and Building Materials, 188, 1092-1100.
Manlapas, G. O., Cardenas, L.E., Anacta, E.T. (2018). Utilization of Babmoo Fiber as a Component Material in Concrete. Indian Journal of Science and Technology. 11(47).
Throughout my five months stay in Indonesia, I was able to receive in-depht insight into the present challanges and opportunities of bamboo for the Indonesian and international market. I looked at the potential of bamboo for the European Market as sustainable building opportunity , the current bamboo market in Indonesia, forestry and trade regulations and how it compares economically to other cash crops. To write it, I conducted qualitative interviews with experts in the field of bamboo and by filing through Indonesian law and further literature.