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Sustainable Community

ARMANDO COBO | Posted in General Questions on

The Uros people, who live on Lake Titicaca (Peru), have always lived as a sustainable community, dating back to the Inca civilization. They not only make their homes out of Totora reeds on floating islands, but also use the reeds for food, fuel and material to build their boats.
What I find interesting is that they now use solar panels to power their TVs and cellular phones. Does that mean they have the best of both worlds?

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  1. Expert Member
    ARMANDO COBO | | #1

    Sorry, these pictures should have appeared on the original post. I could not edit the post either...

  2. davidmeiland | | #2

    Obviously the electronics are not sustainable, as the ingredients are mostly mined out of the ground. Not sure about the oil drum floating in the lake, either.

  3. user-659915 | | #3

    'Sustainable' is one of those words whose meaning disappears farther into the distance the closer one looks at it: sooner or later the sun will go out and then where are we. For centuries the Uros have lived with little in the way of external inputs and even less in the way of depletion of the local resources that sustain them. That's about as good a definition of sustainable as you are likely to get. Their lives have already begun to change as they sell trinkets to tourists and as they buy TVs and PV panels with the proceeds. Until and unless the TVs lead them to want a whole lot more stuff in their lives they're doing a whole lot better than we are and we probably shouldn't quibble. The oil drum is probably a relic of a gas-powered generator - few would argue the PV is worse.

  4. user-757117 | | #4

    Thanks for posting the interesting pictures.
    I'm not sure I've ever seen solar panels pitched to that angle before.

    I agree with James.
    I think it is important to remember that the word "sustainable" is an absolute which is impossible to attain.

    "The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long"

    The Uros people may still have their brightness only set to 2 or 3...
    Are the rest of us at 11 yet?
    Are we going to try to scratch a 12 on the dial?

  5. Expert Member
    ARMANDO COBO | | #5

    It all started with a discussion I had with one of my cousins about the subject. Many jungle and rural communities around the world are installing panels in their huts; so I thought I bring up the issue of peoples that have been sustainable for centuries, are trying to get some of the new technology (not so sustainable) to work for them; and yet in the modern unsustainable communities of today, we are trying to bring some accountability and sustainability to new urban development. Is it right or wrong? Fair or not fair? Should those people have some of the new technologies the rest of the world uses? Is there a happy medium?

  6. user-757117 | | #6

    Those are tough questions to which there are no easy answers...

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