We Must be the Technology to Achieve Sustainability

Joe Ricciardi Sustainability

by Joe Ricciardi 
Technology plays a prominent role in discussions of sustainability. In Mid-Course Correction, Ray C. Anderson modifies Paul and Anne Ehrlich’s well known environmental impact equation I=PxAxT, proposing moving T (Technology) into the denominator – completely changing the context of the original equation:

Environmental Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology becomes

Impact = Population x Affluence

Andin ‘Sustainability by Design,’ John Eherenfeld writes that the shift to technology is at the very root of the problem – shifting the burden of responsibility from where it belongs.

There is no magic formulation, turbine, or flywheel that will change the course of modern society. The technology that is needed for change already exists – it is us. Only today’s leaders can influence tomorrow’s outcomes. It is the technology of leadership that will get us to where we need to be.

This technology is not a radical re-engineering or breakthrough theory/process – it is the technology of basic leadership – three simple rules.

  1. Love one another
  2. Take action
  3. Stand for something

These may sound basic but they are exactly the things that we have gotten away from.

Love one another. There is a lot wrapped up in those three simple words but it is hard to imagine being in the position we are in (as a global society) if we truly loved one another. It is hard to imagine any action that pollutes the air, ground, or water if we loved our neighbors. How could poverty/hunger exist if we loved those less fortunate? Love is free and sustainable by any definition – we should treat it as such.

Take action (where action is needed). Another simple phrase that seems to have fallen victim to over-consumption and greed. What if we all took action? In our homes, neighborhoods, workplaces? Took the necessary steps, voted with our wallets. Actually, a good start would be simply just voting! Create the demand for good, for what it right, what is sustainable.

Stand for something. I don’t propose or endorse any one religion – the world’s population is diverse and rich in heritage. Laws and regulations will always differ. Cultures will have norms and standards. But we are all humans and with that blessed with the ability to reason and to care – to be virtuous. From the earliest time much of mankind believed in some form of the four cardinal virtues: temperance, wisdom, justice, and courage. If we could just stand for them – the world could be a much better place.

Tomorrow’s technology exists today. It is inside each and every one of us. Radical thinking, paradigm shifts, T’s in the denominator aren’t needed. What is needed is the technology of leadership in its purest form.

Simply by loving one another, taking action, and standing for something we can confront the scale of change required to achieve a sustainable world and efficient society.


Joe Ricciardi is a PhD candidate in values-driven leadership at Benedictine University, and Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. 

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