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November 19, 2009, 08:43:23 PM
I've been thinking about how people on these forums define sustainability. We understand the importance of sustainability, but definitions do not seem very clear. I've presented my ideas of sustainability in this thread, however I don't know whether it was acknowledged or accepted. Before you look at my definition of sustainability (which took me roughly 3 months of research to understand, and I have yet to work out all the implications), I'd like a general concept of what it means to be sustainable from your viewpoint. Here's a twist though: avoid any aesthetic/qualitative reasoning, and also consider proximate and ultimate causations of what it means to be unsustainable.

So, I'd like for you to present your definition of sustainability in this thread. Thanks!

Edit: The reason I bring up this topic is because of the general bias I see within these forums. The general idea is that humanity and modern society are inherently bad, and although we see what is happening to our planet, I have a feeling that some don't understand the process, the other possible solutions, why modern society is failing and the difference between ultimate and proximate causation. I know you all have a fair idea of the situation, but perhaps I can offer you a different perspective to broaden your knowledge.

Re: Sustainability
November 20, 2009, 11:13:00 AM
In this day and age, to be sustainable, is to live one's life with minimal burdel to the planet.
In the general sense, mankind has overstayed it's welcome, but then again, that's just me.

Re: Sustainability
November 20, 2009, 12:47:15 PM
I would define sustainability as bio-regionalism, basing political social and economic decisions on a determinable ecological region.

Current definition are wanting in that they:

Reconcile empty and contradictory terms< ("sustainable development", "meeting present needs so that future generations can still meet needs" etc)

Of course, there still needs to be cooperation globally and some trade is warranted - but not generally.

Re: Sustainability
November 26, 2009, 12:07:40 AM
From what I have gathered regarding sustainability, which relates well to wahn's blog on overpopulation, is IPAT: environmental impact = population * affluence * technology.

Here are possible solutions, all of which are required to have a sustainable society:
  • Type III ecology via industrial ecology (technology)
  • Biomemetics (technology)
  • Steady-state economy (affluence)
  • Limiting population growth (population)

Anyway, the first two points regard efficiency of humaniy's synthetic systems and technology, and the latter two are about growth. In a system where you have no introduced energy/matter and no losses of energy or matter, you have an isolated system.

For interest's sake, here are some interesting quotes from a fairly revolutionary journal article from 1971:

"Racism, economic exploitation, and war will not be eliminated by population control (of course, they are unlikely to be eliminated with out it).

"Moving people to more "habitable" areas, such as the central valley of California, or indeed, most suburbs, exacerbates another serious problem -- the paving-over of prime farmland. This is already so serious in California that, if current trends continue, about 50 percent of the best acreage in the nation's leading agricultural state will be destroyed by the year 2020.

"Theorem 5 states that theoretical solutions to our problems are often not operational, and sometimes are not solutions. In terms of the problem of feeding the world, for example, technological fixes suffer from limitations in scale, lead time, and cost."

http://www.jstor.org/pss/1294858 -- working on getting full article. Will give article on individual basis.