The way everyone in the north - and the rich in the south - use resources, reminds me of mindless behaviour, similar to that of rambling of drunkards. Or maybe, the way children think when they see food on the table, but have no thoughts about where it comes from and also no concern for those who cannot live in the same kind of abundance. Many of the resources we use are non-renewable. We use them up once and for all. In other cases, we can replace what we use. Typically, after logging of trees, we can plant new trees and look after the forests when they grow back. We can improve the environment and look after Gods creation. But do we listen to old wisdom and new knowledge? No, we seem not to do that. And often we have excuses for not doing it, too. Today, I will take up some fundamental issues about sustainable development, following my article last week, when I wrote about growth or development. In that article, I just started discussing the vast area of economic and human development, which also requires basic understanding of man and the biosphere. What we do is based on values, political analysis and sector knowledge in many fields. Often, we need to re-evaluate fixed believes and standard ways of doing things. We need to revisit theories and reconsider conventional thinking. And we need some basic knowledge about fundamental existential issues, such as why we live on this earth, how we should live together with other people, and how best we can be custodians and look after Gods creation, the environment that we all depend on. I spoke with some young and clever university graduates about my article last week. To my surprise, they told me that nowadays they dont talk about growth or development. They informed me that the term now is growth and development, the young European women said. They seemed not to have discussed the limits to growth in their advanced degree courses, which also included environmental issues. In my younger days, when I was a student and later a staff member at the University of Oslo, we had long soul-searching discussions about the limits to growth. We soon realised that there were serious problems with the way the rich world overused resources. We considered the problems to be moral and political, built on values that we had to justify. Within development studies, which I headed, we thought that we had to reduce our resource consumption, the enormous overuse of resources the West had gotten used to at the expense of poorer countries and people. To be moral and ethical scientists, we realised that we had to work for fairer relationships between rich and poor countries, and between groups and geographic areas within the countries. Gender disparity, too, became a key area where we wanted greater equality. This was at a time when people and politicians began to realise that environmental issues are part and parcel of sustainable development. Well, the concept sustainable development was not yet invented; it only came with the Brundtland Commissions report in the mid-1980s. (The Chair of that UN Commission was Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norways first and until now the only female Prime Minister and earlier Minister of Environment.) I remember how excited we all were when an organisation called The Future in Our Hands was established, initiated by Erik Dammann, a successful advertising executive, who had gotten second thoughts about the ethics of his work. That was in 1974, a couple of years after his bestselling book had been published. The book was about his stay with his wife and four children in the Samoan Islands, which had contributed significantly to making him wiser and deeply concerned about systemic problems with the Western capitalist development model. Dammann questioned the development model altogether and he ban to consider alternative frameworks for sustainable development. He was early in doing this. He was not a nature freak or a socialist dreamer. He became a serious and quite academic, interdisciplinary thinker, given a permanent State allowance for a living, yes, because the government found his thoughts remarkably valuable. Dammann worked closely with one of Norways most famous philosophers, Professor Arne Naess, who had begun developing broader theories about deep ecology and ecosophy. In addition to being an academician, Arne Naess was a noted mountaineer, albeit not quite as famous as his wealthy nephew Arne Naess Jr, who undertook the climbing expedition on Mount Everest, too, and he was once married to Diana Ross, the great American singer Such anecdotes are not important, perhaps, but they do add other dimensions to peoples lives, dont you think so? Furthermore, the 1970s were times when academicians had to take part in real life, and Professor Arne Naess was an activist protesting against the Mardalsfossen Waterfalls in West Norway becoming part of a large hydropower development project. It was a prelude to later demonstrations and environmental awareness among Norwegian citizens and politicians. From then on, and indeed after the Alta protests some years later, forced politicians once and for all, or so we thought, to ask people what they wanted in the development fields, in our worship dance around the golden calf, to use a Biblical term. But alas, we have again, now a generation later, forgotten some of the awareness and understanding gained at that time. We again allow more pollution and careless use of resources than we should, and we dont always remember that Gods creation belongs to Gods children, at all times, in millenniums to come, too. Let me again draw attention to the serious questions more and more people have about the Western capitalist development model, which has become part of the modern world order. Its inbuilt defect, the need for continuous growth, is the problem. It leads to senseless overuse of resources, and the strong always keeping the lead and having the upper hand. Economic growth and development becomes an end in themselves, not means to human development for all citizens in the land and the world. We seem not to realise that there are limits to growth. Strangely, we have not yet begun to debate about alternative development models. When several wealthy Western European countries are considered to be in serious economic difficulties, which they are within the existing development model, then there is something very wrong. Take Italy, the worlds seventh largest economy, a country with about 60 million people and no or negative population growth. If not even that country can adjust and find new models for organising its economy, we seem to be trapped in an unsustainable grip. Or, if Japan is also to follow suit, and America, of course, what kind of mess is it we - the politicians and economists, with all other sciences - have created? How come we dont involve all academicians and thinkers, like Erik Dammann in Norway, in searching for solutions and finding a new, sustainable development model for a fairer, more peaceful world for all? The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist based in Islamabad. He has served as United Nations Specialist in the United States, as well as various countries in Africa and Asia. He has also spent a decade dealing with the Afghan refugee crisis and university education in Pakistan. Email: