HOPE - Helping Our Peninsula's Environment
Monterey County Planning Commission
March 3, 2004
The Draft General Plan Update Demands Sustainability
Good Morning Commissioners:
Sustainability means passing an equivalent or greater resource endowment or capital bequest to the next generation, so that it has the same, or better, opportunity to meet its needs as the present generation.
In this context, three categories of capital stock are important:
Ecological and environmental economists identify the maintenance of natural capital as the enabling condition for achieving sustainability. This reflects current rates of resource depletion and environmental deterioration, which now constitute, at the very least, development constraints (and possibly threaten human survival). Seen in this light, traditional economic assumptions about the sustainability of man-made and natural capital have been modified significantly.
(Sustainability is not the same as "Sustainable Growth")
Carrying Capacity is "the number of individuals of a given species that can be sustained indefinitely in a given area." Miller, Living in The Environment pg 206, 1998
Carrying Capacity is "the maximum population that a given area's resources can sustain indefinitely."(p 25) Carrying Capacity is "the population size that the total resources of the habitat can support on a sustained basis." (p 91) Environmental Science (textbook) ; Morgan, Moran & Weirsma; W.C. Brown Pub. 1993
"The Carrying Capacity of a specific area is the number of individuals of a species that can survive in that area over time. In most populations, four broad categories of factors interact to set the carrying capacity for a population. These factors are: 1) the availability of raw materials, 2) the availability of energy, 3) the accumulation of waste and their means of disposal, and 4) interactions among organisms." Environmental Science (textbook) Enger & Smith, 1995
The above two define carrying capacity for a single population. The following is a definition and a rule of thumb for carrying capacity of an area.
The Carrying Capacity of a specific area is the number of individuals of each and every species that can survive in that area over time. Because of constraints including food, energy and habitat area if one species increases - some other species must decline.
Carrying Capacity is not a rigid unvarying number, it can vary by a small or a medium amount. It can vary downward during times of stress such as drought. The problem for Planners is that for many reasons politicians tend to vote of maximum numbers of human population. So even when Planners set a maximum human population for an area, politicians will vote to allow population to reach that number. This becomes a problem when the stress (i.e. drought) arrives. In such a case the stress can cause annoyances or illnesses and even deaths.
We need an Alternative which restricts the project so that use by the Maximum Persons at One Time (PAOT) never exceeds the resources available.
A population forecast constrained by sustainable use of resources would be significantly lower yet and would require far less infrastructure construction including road and Dam building.
This alternative would analyze what resource constraints currently exist and what level of resource use can be maintained for 100 years without harming the natural environment and how this would limit population growth.
David Dilworth, Executive Director