Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Even 10 Years Ago, People Were Still under the Illusion That the Resources of the Planet Were Infinite' University Leads Research into Sustainability

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Even 10 Years Ago, People Were Still under the Illusion That the Resources of the Planet Were Infinite' University Leads Research into Sustainability

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

THE world has enough for everybody's need but not for everybody's greed.

Those wise words of Mahatma Gandhi sum up the concept of sustainability, reckons Newcastle University's Professor Paul Younger, and they will certainly be a guiding light as Prof Younger today witnesses the birth of a pioneering new institute of which he will be director.

The Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability will be launched at the university by Lord Jack Cunningham of Felling before an audience of around 200 academics, business and council leaders.

In addition to Gandhi's message, Prof Younger has another take on the concept of sustainability.

It is, he maintains, about being a good ancestor by ensuring that future generations have a fair share of what our only world can offer.

Gone are the days, from the Industrial Revolution through the 19th and 20th Centuries of unfettered pillaging of natural resources and the attendant wastefulness and pollution.

"Sustainability is now absolutely crucial.

One hundred, 50 or even 10 years ago, people were still under the illusion that the resources of the planet were infinite," said Prof Younger, who is also university Pro Vice Chancellor (Engagement) and the new chairman of Sustaine, the body which presses home the sustainability message in the North East. "Now we are more aware of the carbon dioxide we are pumping into the atmosphere, climate change, and that we have only so many decades left of resources such as oil or uranium.

"Now we have to get into the habit of reducing, reusing and recycling."

The institute will build on the university's well-established reputation for sustainability-linked work.

The aim is to make Newcastle a centre of excellence and an international leader in the principles and practices of sustainability. This will include working with a wide range of partners, from councils to industries, on problem-solving and sustainable solutions.

The institute will focus on the often over-lapping themes of energy, water, food, products and processes, transport, marine, terrestrial, urban and rural economy, health and environment. "We have so much expertise to offer," said Prof Younger.

Dean of Research Prof Tony Roskilly, who will also be part of the institute, said that such expertise ranged from evaluating electric cars to working with Gateshead-based Traidcraft on developing world issues. …

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