DNA of Sustainability

One of my colleagues, Yuill Herbert, has talked about mapping the DNA of sustainability. For me, the most crucial DNA is the social imperative and this video on Lonleliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection offers some startling data on loneliness and health. It teases out characteristics of loneliness, isolation and how as a social species, biologically programmed for connection. There are three levels to connection--intimate, social and collective. The last relates to social identity, and the greater the number of voluntary associations you have the less lonely you are.  Loneliness is also contagious, up to three degrees of separation, thus, it can perpetuate in social networks. Given the silver tsunami that is coming, and the data revealed by Professor Cacioppo's research, we should begin discussing the ramifications of these demographic changes and necessary policy development--especially the connection between volunteering and decreased loneliness. Research has also shown that if people have meaning and purpose they live on average 14 years longer. Policies that incentivize more people to volunteer may significantly reduce health costs, never mind the benefits to society as a whole?