Global degradation of soil and water – worse than the Fukushima catastrophe?

Munich, April 13th, 2011: The recent Fukushima-catastrophe in Japan and the explosion of the oil platform “Deepwater Horizon” in 2010 are symptomatic for dealing with human lives and resources on this planet.

Munich, April 13th 2011

Risks borne by society in general, are often not considered in economic decision processes. Profit maximization is given greatest precedence, while resources and the natural and social systems are overly burdened. The recent Fukushima-catastrophe in Japan and the explosion of the oil platform “Deepwater Horizon” in 2010 are symptomatic for dealing with human lives and resources on this planet. However, though the “super catastrophes” generate much media attention, there are also slow-burn catastrophes resulting from gradual changes that eventually reach a point where they become a question of survival for humanity.

The global risk society does not stop at our fertile farmland and drinking water. A nuclear accident or the explosion of an oil platform cause direct and very evident damage to people and the environment. However, other irresponsible activities occurring over a long period can also lead to a lingering, but just as enduring destruction of the basis of life. The dwindling area of fertile farmland is a particularly dramatic example of the global loss of natural resources. Not only are the rainforests disappearing, but also arable land is diminishing alarmingly fast. A study by the global Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows that in 1961 there was 4307 m² of arable land available per person – in 2007 this amount had been more than halved to 2137 m². The growth of the global population and the continued loss of soil through erosion and other factors are driving this downward trend still further.

Like soil, water is of utmost importance to humanity. Non-renewable fossil groundwater is being used up, fresh water reserves are diminishing and water resources all over the planet are becoming more and more polluted. Demand for water, especially from industry and food production, remains extremely high.

Russian roulette at the expense of humanity

The market economy is purely orientated towards economic growth. As such it has not developed suitable correction mechanisms and therefore, fails as a sustainable economic model for the future. In fact, economic advantage raises everybody’s willingness to take on risk: the consumer, who buys products as cheap as possible, the business that pursues attractive profit prospects, and the state, which is loathed to limit businesses as it cares more about tax revenues and creating jobs than protecting resources.

“At the moment it is depressing to see that the previously halted deep sea drillings in the Gulf of Mexico have now been restarted. The US Senate has even allocate new drilling licences without enforcing improvements in the security standards and their monitoring”, says Fritz Lietsch, editor in chief of “forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften”. “Security has been sacrificed to the demand for energy and another ‘accident’ is inevitable.”

Encouragement through best practices

The SusCon organizers believe a fundamental change of attitude, which only can be triggered by state, economy and consumers working together, is urgently needed. Therefore, SusCon will give discussions on the subject of primacy of ethics in daily economic life full prominence, with the particular aim of developing concrete recommendations and solutions.

The International Conference in Nuremberg will present best business practices that can solve problems with a holistic approach. In addition, innovative technologies, such as drinking water treatment, recovery of phosphate and the revitalization of leached soils, will be presented. However, though these individual solutions are important, steps towards a sustainable economy in which ethics are firmly anchored are also essential. “Businesses that are already thinking about their responsibility for tomorrow”, emphasizes Udo Censkowsky, director of Organic Services and one of the organizers of SusCon, “will attain a long term competitive advantage.”

For more information and interview possibilities, contact the SusCon organisers:

Udo Censkowsky, Organic Services: +49 (0)89-82075902,

Bernward Geier, COLABORA: +49 (0)2245-618652,

Fritz Lietsch, forum Nachhaltig Wirtschaften: +49 (0)89-74661111,

SusCon 2011

In 2011, the third International Conference on Sustainable Business and Consumption will be held in Nuremberg, Germany at the NürnbergMesse exhibition fair grounds. From 28 to 29 June 2011, companies, NGOs and politicians will discuss pressing environmental issues, with a particular emphasis on the scarcity of land and water resources. New business models, such as social business, innovations and concrete activities for preserving these resources will be the main focus. Last year at SusCon 2010, around 270 delegates from 28 countries representing businesses, politics, NGOs and the media participated in the event. More information on the website:

Press Release: German / English