sustainable future

This is not life

Sustainable future as the only way to live


“This is not life”. This statement has become routine in recent months. As well as we have heard more and more often about a sustainable future.

The pandemic has forced us indoors for long periods that we were not used to and has upset many of our habits: limited travel, limited direct purchases/sales, social distancing.

How did we get to this point? Before proceeding, I invite you to read the “Survivorship Bias” by Abraham Wald, an Hungarian mathematician, who indirectly contributed to the victory of World War II.

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The “Survivorship Bias” occurs when we look at the things that have survived while we should focus on the ones that have not survived.

In short, we consider this as “survival” and not as “life” because we focus only on the present, or on what we can see, and we evaluate it in relation to the recent past, which can always be assumed as the present.

For a correct analysis of the causes of our present it’s necessary to consider the past as the present and the present as the future, freeing the mind from preconceptions and visions that today would seem utopia.

The wealth we achieved is fictitious. It’s not sustainable. And for this we have inevitably collapsed and will continue in a slow decline.

A good is sustainable if it has two characteristics: it’s reproducible and reusable/recyclable indefinitely, (when it does not produce large quantities of waste – within physical limits -).

The pursuit of sustainable wealth would have brought us the same result as today, but it would have given us a bright future. In other words, we would have had to wait much longer to achieve high welfare, but it would also have lasted over time.

Furthermore, most of the population would not even have been aware of the level of technology and welfare achievable before this became sustainable.

For example, no one could have owned a car (or even be aware of its existence) until it was both cheap (like now) but also sustainable (electric?)

Is it still possible to reach sustainable future? Is it possible to reach stage that seems utopian in diagram 1 while in diagram 2 it would be the direct consequence? Yes, only if man renounces everything that isn’t sustainable.

In conclusion, it seems to us to survive if we look to “yesterday”, thinking about what has come to us without asking ourselves what has not arrived or what could have come.

We can’t change the past, but we can think of a better future just by thinking about what could have been. And in order not to run into new, unpleasant, and ever more continuous “states of survival”, we must put aside the ego of our generation and radically change our way of life.

We need to reach a sustainable future with sustainability.


Author: Francesco Decaro

Born in 1995 in Conversano, Puglia, he graduated in architecture at the Polytechnic University of Bari in 2020 with a thesis on rural architecture in the Fujian region, China. During his academic career he studied in Spain for two years, in Cartagena first and Valencia later. In 2017 he founded C A G E Architecture. In 2021 he co-founded Nebra Skay Studio about sustainable design.


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