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packsaddle

Merits of a Sustainability Badge

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National's track record the past 5-10 years doesn't give me a lot of faith that this badge won't be some politically-correct fluff. It's too bad because the concept of sustainability fits right in with the traditional Scout focus on Conservation but it's a term loaded with socio-political context in contemporary society.

 

Having said all that, I'll reserve judgment on the merits of the badge until I see specifics on the curriculum.

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SeattlePioneer, It is true that we now import 50% or less of the oil that we use and that we currently rank about 3rd in the world in production. The economic recovery, however, is unlikely to accompany decreased demand. Moreover, the cost of the new production is much greater than the 'first flush' that existed for new wells back in the 20th century (this is well-known in terms of EROI). So if you think the cost of oil is going to decline in any kind of long-term manner, you should put your money where your predictions are and start playing the futures market.

 

Because although we rank 3rd in production, we rank about 10th in proven reserves (about 100 bb, estimates vary, the CIA estimates around 21 bb). Saudi Arabia (which hasn't in recent years been a major source of our imported oil anyway) is likely to join the chorus: 'Drill, Baby, Drill'. At least that's what I'd do if I was in their place. If I was a Saudi, I'd even hope for cheaper oil prices for a little while, to keep the junkies hooked while their stash dwindles ever more quickly.

I could be wrong. Perhaps we've greatly underestimated vast reserves that we never knew we had.

 

Edit: HICO, I share your skepticism and I agree that the concept of sustainability is implicit in the idea of conservation. I also suggest that 'sustainability' is part of the foundation for 'leave no trace'.

 

Edit: "World proved oil reserves at the end of 2011 reached 1652.6 billion barrels, sufficient to meet 54.2 years of global production. Proved reserves remain concentrated in OPEC which controls 72% of the worlds oil reserves, the highest proportion since 1998." source for this is BP.

That 54.2 year figure has been fairly solid despite additions of reserves due to increased rates of usage. The price of anything in a commodity market is usually determined by market forces and in this case, we share the market with some other rather large (and rapidly-growing) users (China, for example).(This message has been edited by packsaddle)

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I'd like to know who is sponsoring this badge. It would go a long way to telling us if the badge is going to be focused on personal sustainability or on corporate sustainability. Is it going to be about 40 pages of documentation to earn a bogus LEED certificate for an office building or is it going to be more about the sustainability of choices we make personally, such as buying food sourced (grown) locally versus buying food grown in Mexico or California (if you don't live in California).

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Two points brought up that should be clarified and exampled:

That there are sponsors for merit badges...

and

That over the last 5-10 years merit badges contain "politically correct fluff"...

Anyone?

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Not sure if this counts as a "sponsor", but it's pretty close with regard to the Chess Merit badge:

 

"The USCF (United States Chess Federation) provided the primary contributing writers for the Merit Badge pamphlet. They will be helping to promote the badge through communications with the Chess delegate teams (similar to BSAs National Committees and Boards) and e-mail blasts, plus website and "tournament news" announcements."

BSA Supply Line, July 2011

 

There are certainly some badges that could benefit an outside organization (for instance, Geocaching can drive traffic and interest to geocaching.com). Likwiese, I can't imagine that Composite Materials was something though up by the folks in Irving, either.

 

We'll have to wait and see on the requirements for the new Sustainability badge to see if it passes the sniff test.

 

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FScouter said:

"That over the last 5-10 years merit badges contain "politically correct fluff"...

Anyone?"

 

No, I said that National has issued politically correct fluff over the past 5-10 years. I think some merit badges have been watered down but I'm including things like the new bilingual medical form, changes to the Guide to Safe Scouting, etc. in the list of politically correct fluff. If the Sustainability merit badge turns out to be more marketing for "green" garbage then I'd add it to that pile.

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Could be a useful badge. I think anything that makes kids more conscious about the need to make effective choices about use of resources is a good thing, and could be one of the most lasting things they take from Scouts into adulthood. (I remember seeing an infographic this year about adult Eagle Scouts, a surprising number were active in an environmental organization.) Maybe the MB will just be a MB version of the Leave No Trace course.

 

Whether this merits (no pun intended) being a separate badge from Enviro Science? Maybe. You see a lot of shilly-shallying with terms of science, as in the 1970s when saying you were into "Ecology" didn't mean that you could graph the ecosystem of a microclimate, it meant that you thought not littering was a good idea. "Environmental Science" is a separate field from "Sustainability," so maybe it's worth being a separate badge. Maybe it's just posturing by BSA HQ to curry favor from the political left (not that conservation should be sectarian.) It'll be interesting to see what the requirements are.

 

 

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