In ecology , SUSTAINABILITY (from sustain and ability) is the
property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive
indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples
of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms,
sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The
organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development ,
which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics,
politics and culture.
Sustainability science is the study of
sustainable development and environmental science.
Sustainability can also be defined as a socio-ecological process
characterized by the pursuit of a common ideal. An ideal is by
definition unattainable in a given time and space. However, by
persistently and dynamically approaching it, the process results in a
Healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary to the survival of
humans and other organisms . Ways of reducing negative human impact
are environmentally-friendly chemical engineering , environmental
resources management and environmental protection . Information is
gained from green chemistry , earth science , environmental science
and conservation biology .
Ecological economics studies the fields of
academic research that aim to address human economies and natural
ecosystems. Batad rice terraces , The Philippines —UNESCO World
Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails
international and national law , urban planning and transport , local
and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism . Ways of living
more sustainably can take many forms from reorganizing living
conditions (e.g., ecovillages , eco-municipalities and sustainable
cities ), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture , green building
, sustainable agriculture ), or work practices (sustainable
architecture ), using science to develop new technologies (green
technologies , renewable energy and sustainable fission and fusion
power ), or designing systems in a flexible and reversible manner,
and adjusting individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.
"The term 'sustainability' should be viewed as humanity's target goal
of human-ecosystem equilibrium (homeostasis), while 'sustainable
development' refers to the holistic approach and temporal processes
that lead us to the end point of sustainability." (305) Despite the
increased popularity of the use of the term "sustainability", the
possibility that human societies will achieve environmental
sustainability has been, and continues to be, questioned—in light of
environmental degradation , climate change , overconsumption ,
population growth and societies' pursuit of unlimited economic growth
in a closed system .
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Components
* 2.1 Three pillars of sustainability
* 2.2 Circles of sustainability
* 2.3 Seven modalities
* 2.4 Shaping the future
* 3 Resiliency
* 4 History
* 5 Principles and concepts
* 5.1 Scale and context
* 5.2 Consumption
* 6 Circularity
* 7 Measurement
* 7.3 Global human impact on biodiversity
Sustainable development goals
* 9 Environmental dimension
Freshwater and oceans
* 9.1.3 Land use
* 9.2 Management of human consumption
* 9.2.4 Materials, toxic substances, waste
* 10.1 Decoupling environmental degradation and economic growth
Nature as an economic externality
* 10.4 Ecosocialist approach
* 11 Social dimension
* 11.1 Peace, security, social justice
* 11.3 Human relationship to nature
* 11.4 Human settlements
* 11.5 Human and labor rights
* 12 Cultural dimension
* 12.1 Tourism
* 13 See also
* 13.1 Topics
* 14 References
* 15 Bibliography
* 16 External links
The name sustainability is derived from the
Latin sustinere (tenere,
to hold; sub, up). Sustain can mean “maintain", "support", or
"endure”. Since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the
sense of human sustainability on planet
Earth and this has resulted in
the most widely quoted definition of sustainability as a part of the
concept sustainable development , that of the
Brundtland Commission of
United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is
development that meets the needs of the present without compromising
the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
THREE PILLARS OF SUSTAINABILITY
A diagram indicating the relationship between the "three pillars
of sustainability", in which both economy and society are constrained
by environmental limits
Venn diagram of sustainable development:
at the confluence of three constituent parts
2005 World Summit on Social Development identified sustainable
development goals, such as economic development, social development
and environmental protection. This view has been expressed as an
illustration using three overlapping ellipses indicating that the
three pillars of sustainability are not mutually exclusive and can be
mutually reinforcing. In fact, the three pillars are interdependent,
and in the long run none can exist without the others. The three
pillars have served as a common ground for numerous sustainability
standards and certification systems in recent years, in particular in
the food industry. Standards which today explicitly refer to the
triple bottom line include
Rainforest Alliance ,
Fairtrade and UTZ
Certified . Some sustainability experts and practitioners have
illustrated four pillars of sustainability, or a quadruple bottom
line. One such pillar is future generations, which emphasizes the
long-term thinking associated with sustainability. There is also an
opinion that considers resource use and financial sustainability as
two additional pillars of sustainability.
Sustainable development consists of balancing local and global
efforts to meet basic human needs without destroying or degrading the
natural environment. The question then becomes how to represent the
relationship between those needs and the environment.
A study from 2005 pointed out that environmental justice is as
important as sustainable development. Ecological economist Herman
Daly asked, "what use is a sawmill without a forest?" From this
perspective, the economy is a subsystem of human society, which is
itself a subsystem of the biosphere, and a gain in one sector is a
loss from another. This perspective led to the nested circles figure
of 'economics' inside 'society' inside the 'environment'.
The simple definition that sustainability is something that improves
"the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity
of supporting eco-systems", though vague, conveys the idea of
sustainability having quantifiable limits. But sustainability is also
a call to action, a task in progress or “journey” and therefore a
political process, so some definitions set out common goals and
Earth Charter speaks of “a sustainable global society
founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic
justice, and a culture of peace.” This suggested a more complex
figure of sustainability, which included the importance of the domain
More than that, sustainability implies responsible and proactive
decision-making and innovation that minimizes negative impact and
maintains balance between ecological resilience, economic prosperity,
political justice and cultural vibrancy to ensure a desirable planet
for all species now and in the future. Specific types of
sustainability include, sustainable agriculture , sustainable
architecture or ecological economics . Understanding sustainable
development is important but without clear targets an unfocused term
like "liberty" or "justice". It has also been described as a
"dialogue of values that challenge the sociology of development".
CIRCLES OF SUSTAINABILITY
Urban sustainability analysis of the greater urban area of the
city of São Paulo using the ‘Circles of Sustainability' method of
the UN and Metropolis Association.
United Nations Millennium Declaration identified principles
and treaties on sustainable development, including economic
development, social development and environmental protection it
continued using three domains: economics, environment and social
sustainability. More recently, using a systematic domain model that
responds to the debates over the last decade, the Circles of
Sustainability approach distinguished four domains of economic,
ecological, political and cultural sustainability. This in accord with
Agenda 21 , which specifies CULTURE as the fourth
domain of sustainable development. The model is now being used by
organizations such as the
United Nations Cities Programme. and
Another model suggests humans attempt to achieve all of their needs
and aspirations via seven modalities: economy, community, occupational
groups, government, environment, culture, and physiology. From the
global to the individual human scale, each of the seven modalities can
be viewed across seven hierarchical levels. Human sustainability can
be achieved by attaining sustainability in all levels of the seven
SHAPING THE FUTURE
Integral elements of sustainability are research and innovation
activities. A telling example is the European environmental research
and innovation policy . It aims at defining and implementing a
transformative agenda to greening the economy and the society as a
whole so to make them sustainable. Research and innovation in Europe
are financially supported by the programme
Horizon 2020 , which is
also open to participation worldwide. Encouraging good farming
practices ensures farmers fully benefit from the environment and at
the same time conserving it for future generations.
Resiliency in ecology is the capacity of an ecosystem to absorb
disturbance and still retain its basic structure and viability.
Resilience-thinking evolved from the need to manage interactions
between human-constructed systems and natural ecosystems in a
sustainable way despite the fact that to policymakers a definition
remains elusive. Resilience-thinking addresses how much planetary
ecological systems can withstand assault from human disturbances and
still deliver the services current and future generations need from
them. It is also concerned with commitment from geopolitical
policymakers to promote and manage essential planetary ecological
resources in order to promote resilience and achieve sustainability of
these essential resources for benefit of future generations of life?
The resiliency of an ecosystem, and thereby, its sustainability, can
be reasonably measured at junctures or events where the combination of
naturally occurring regenerative forces (solar energy , water, soil,
atmosphere , vegetation, and biomass ) interact with the energy
released into the ecosystem from disturbances.
A practical view of sustainability is closed systems that maintain
processes of productivity indefinitely by replacing resources used by
actions of people with resources of equal or greater value by those
same people without degrading or endangering natural biotic systems.
In this way, sustainability can be concretely measured in human
projects if there is a transparent accounting of the resources put
back into the ecosystem to replace those displaced. In nature, the
accounting occurs naturally through a process of adaptation as an
ecosystem returns to viability from an external disturbance. The
adaptation is a multi-stage process that begins with the disturbance
event (earthquake, volcanic eruption, hurricane, tornado, flood, or
thunderstorm), followed by absorption , utilization , or deflection of
the energy or energies that the external forces created.
In analysing systems such as urban and national parks, dams, farms
and gardens, theme parks, open-pit mines, water catchments, one way to
look at the relationship between sustainability and resiliency is to
view the former with a long-term vision and resiliency as the capacity
of human engineers to respond to immediate environmental events.
History of sustainability
The history of sustainability traces human-dominated ecological
systems from the earliest civilizations to the present time. This
history is characterized by the increased regional success of a
particular society , followed by crises that were either resolved,
producing sustainability, or not, leading to decline.
In early human history, the use of fire and desire for specific foods
may have altered the natural composition of plant and animal
communities. Between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago, agrarian communities
emerged which depended largely on their environment and the creation
of a "structure of permanence."
The Western industrial revolution of the 18th to 19th centuries
tapped into the vast growth potential of the energy in fossil fuels .
Coal was used to power ever more efficient engines and later to
generate electricity. Modern sanitation systems and advances in
medicine protected large populations from disease. In the mid-20th
century, a gathering environmental movement pointed out that there
were environmental costs associated with the many material benefits
that were now being enjoyed. In the late 20th century, environmental
problems became global in scale. The 1973 and 1979 energy crises
demonstrated the extent to which the global community had become
dependent on non-renewable energy resources.
In the 21st century, there is increasing global awareness of the
threat posed by the human greenhouse effect , produced largely by
forest clearing and the burning of fossil fuels.
PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS
The philosophical and analytic framework of sustainability draws on
and connects with many different disciplines and fields; in recent
years an area that has come to be called sustainability science has
SCALE AND CONTEXT
Sustainability is studied and managed over many scales (levels or
frames of reference) of time and space and in many contexts of
environmental, social and economic organization. The focus ranges from
the total carrying capacity (sustainability) of planet
Earth to the
sustainability of economic sectors, ecosystems, countries,
municipalities, neighbourhoods, home gardens, individual lives,
individual goods and services, occupations, lifestyles, behaviour
patterns and so on. In short, it can entail the full compass of
biological and human activity or any part of it. As Daniel Botkin,
author and environmentalist, has stated: "We see a landscape that is
always in flux, changing over many scales of time and space."
The sheer size and complexity of the planetary ecosystem has proved
problematic for the design of practical measures to reach global
sustainability. To shed light on the big picture, explorer and
sustainability campaigner Jason Lewis has drawn parallels to other,
more tangible closed systems . For example, he likens human existence
Earth — isolated as the planet is in space, whereby people cannot
be evacuated to relieve population pressure and resources cannot be
imported to prevent accelerated depletion of resources — to life at
sea on a small boat isolated by water. In both cases, he argues,
exercising the precautionary principle is a key factor in survival.
A major driver of human impact on
Earth systems is the destruction of
biophysical resources , and especially, the Earth's ecosystems. The
environmental impact of a community or of humankind as a whole depends
both on population and impact per person, which in turn depends in
complex ways on what resources are being used, whether or not those
resources are renewable, and the scale of the human activity relative
to the carrying capacity of the ecosystems involved. Careful resource
management can be applied at many scales, from economic sectors like
agriculture, manufacturing and industry, to work organizations, the
consumption patterns of households and individuals and to the resource
demands of individual goods and services.
One of the initial attempts to express human impact mathematically
was developed in the 1970s and is called the
I PAT formula. This
formulation attempts to explain human consumption in terms of three
components: population numbers, levels of consumption (which it terms
"affluence", although the usage is different), and impact per unit of
resource use (which is termed "technology", because this impact
depends on the technology used). The equation is expressed:
I = P × A × T Where: I = Environmental
impact, P = Population, A = Affluence, T =
In recent years, concepts based on (re-)cycling resources are
increasingly gaining importance. The most prominent among these
concepts might be the Circular Economy, with its comprehensive support
by the Chinese and the European Union. There is also a broad range of
similar concepts or schools of thought, including cradle-to-cradle
laws of ecology, looped and performance economy, regenerative design,
industrial ecology, biomimicry, and the blue economy. These concepts
seem intuitively to be more sustainable than the current linear
economic system. The reduction of resource inputs into and waste and
emission leakage out of the system reduces resource depletion and
environmental pollution. However, these simple assumptions are not
sufficient to deal with the involved systemic complexity and
disregards potential trade-offs. For example, the social dimension of
sustainability seems to be only marginally addressed in many
publications on the Circular Economy, and there are cases that require
different or additional strategies, like purchasing new, more energy
efficient equipment. A review of a team of researchers from Cambridge
and TU Delft identified eight different relationship types between
sustainability and the circular economy, namely a (1) conditional
relation, a (2) strong conditional relation, a (3) necessary but not
sufficient conditional relation, a (4) beneficial relationship a
(structured and unstructured) (5) subset relation, a (6) degree
relation, a cost-benefit/trade-off relation, and a (8) selective
Sustainability measurement is a term that denotes the measurements
used as the quantitative basis for the informed management of
sustainability. The metrics used for the measurement of
sustainability (involving the sustainability of environmental, social
and economic domains, both individually and in various combinations)
are evolving: they include indicators , benchmarks, audits,
sustainability standards and certification systems like
Organic , indexes and accounting, as well as assessment, appraisal
and other reporting systems. They are applied over a wide range of
spatial and temporal scales.
Some of the best known and most widely used sustainability measures
include corporate sustainability reporting , Triple Bottom Line
accounting , World
Circles of Sustainability ,
and estimates of the quality of sustainability governance for
individual countries using the
Environmental Sustainability Index and
Environmental Performance Index .
Human population control
Human population control Graph showing human
population growth from 10,000 BC – 2000 AD, illustrating current
World population growth rate, 1950–2050,
as estimated in 2011 by the U.S. Census Bureau, International Data
According to the most recent (July 2015) revision of the official
United Nations World
Population Prospects, the world population is
projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, up from the current 7.3
billion (July 2015), to exceed 9 billion people by 2050, and to reach
11.2 billion by the year 2100. Most of the increase will be in
developing countries whose population is projected to rise from 5.6
billion in 2009 to 7.9 billion in 2050. This increase will be
distributed among the population aged 15–59 (1.2 billion) and 60 or
over (1.1 billion) because the number of children under age 15 in
developing countries is predicted to decrease. In contrast, the
population of the more developed regions is expected to undergo only
slight increase from 1.23 billion to 1.28 billion, and this would have
declined to 1.15 billion but for a projected net migration from
developing to developed countries, which is expected to average 2.4
million persons annually from 2009 to 2050. Long-term estimates in
2004 of global population suggest a peak at around 2070 of nine to ten
billion people, and then a slow decrease to 8.4 billion by 2100.
Emerging economies like those of China and India aspire to the living
standards of the Western world as does the non-industrialized world in
general. It is the combination of population increase in the
developing world and unsustainable consumption levels in the developed
world that poses a stark challenge to sustainability.
Ecological footprint for
different nations compared to their
Human Development Index (HDI)
At the global scale, scientific data now indicates that humans are
living beyond the carrying capacity of planet
Earth and that this
cannot continue indefinitely. This scientific evidence comes from many
sources but is presented in detail in the Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment and the planetary boundaries framework. An early detailed
examination of global limits was published in the 1972 book Limits to
Growth , which has prompted follow-up commentary and analysis. A 2012
Nature by 22 international researchers expressed concerns
Earth may be "approaching a state shift" in its biosphere.
Ecological footprint measures human consumption in terms of the
biologically productive land needed to provide the resources, and
absorb the wastes of the average global citizen. In 2008 it required
2.7 global hectares per person, 30% more than the natural biological
capacity of 2.1 global hectares (assuming no provision for other
organisms). The resulting ecological deficit must be met from
unsustainable extra sources and these are obtained in three ways:
embedded in the goods and services of world trade; taken from the past
(e.g. fossil fuels ); or borrowed from the future as unsustainable
resource usage (e.g. by over exploiting forests and fisheries ).
The figure (right) examines sustainability at the scale of individual
countries by contrasting their Ecological Footprint with their UN
Human Development Index (a measure of standard of living). The graph
shows what is necessary for countries to maintain an acceptable
standard of living for their citizens while, at the same time,
maintaining sustainable resource use. The general trend is for higher
standards of living to become less sustainable. As always, population
growth has a marked influence on levels of consumption and the
efficiency of resource use. The sustainability goal is to raise the
global standard of living without increasing the use of resources
beyond globally sustainable levels; that is, to not exceed "one
planet" consumption. Information generated by reports at the national,
regional and city scales confirm the global trend towards societies
that are becoming less sustainable over time.
Romanian American economist
Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen , a progenitor
in economics and a paradigm founder of ecological economics , has
argued that the carrying capacity of
Earth — that is, Earth's
capacity to sustain human populations and consumption levels — is
bound to decrease sometime in the future as Earth's finite stock of
mineral resources is presently being extracted and put to use. :303
Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist
Herman Daly , a
student of Georgescu-Roegen, has propounded the same argument .
GLOBAL HUMAN IMPACT ON BIODIVERSITY
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
At a fundamental level, energy flow and biogeochemical cycling set an
upper limit on the number and mass of organisms in any ecosystem.
Human impacts on the
Earth are demonstrated in a general way through
detrimental changes in the global biogeochemical cycles of chemicals
that are critical to life, most notably those of water , oxygen ,
carbon , nitrogen and phosphorus .
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an international synthesis by
over 1000 of the world's leading biological scientists that analyzes
the state of the Earth’s ecosystems and provides summaries and
guidelines for decision-makers. It concludes that human activity is
having a significant and escalating impact on the biodiversity of
world ecosystems , reducing both their resilience and biocapacity .
The report refers to natural systems as humanity's "life-support
system", providing essential "ecosystem services ". The assessment
measures 24 ecosystem services concluding that only four have shown
improvement over the last 50 years, 15 are in serious decline, and
five are in a precarious condition.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
Sustainable development goals
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the current harmonized
set of seventeen future international development targets.
The Official Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted on 25
September 2015 has 92 paragraphs, with the main paragraph (51)
outlining the 17
Sustainable Development Goals and its associated 169
targets. This included the following seventeen goals:
* POVERTY –
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
* FOOD – End hunger , achieve food security and improved nutrition
and promote sustainable agriculture
* HEALTH – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at
* EDUCATION – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and
promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
* WOMEN – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
* WATER – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water
and sanitation for all
* ENERGY – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and
modern energy for all
* ECONOMY – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic
growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
* INFRASTRUCTURE – Build resilient infrastructure , promote
inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
* INEQUALITY – Reduce inequality within and among countries
* HABITATION – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe,
resilient and sustainable
* CONSUMPTION – Ensure sustainable consumption and production
* CLIMATE – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its
* MARINE-ECOSYSTEMS – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans,
seas and marine resources for sustainable development
* ECOSYSTEMS – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of
terrestrial ecosystems , sustainably manage forests, combat
desertification , and halt and reverse land degradation and halt
* INSTITUTIONS – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for
sustainable development , provide access to justice for all and build
effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
* SUSTAINABILITY – Strengthen the means of implementation and
revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
As of August 2015, there were 169 proposed targets for these goals
and 304 proposed indicators to show compliance.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) replace the eight Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs), which expired at the end of 2015. The MDGs
were established in 2000 following the
Millennium Summit of the United
Nations . Adopted by the 189
United Nations member states at the time
and more than twenty international organizations , these goals were
advanced to help achieve the following sustainable development
standards by 2015.
* To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
* To achieve universal primary education
* To promote gender equality and empower women
* To reduce child mortality
* To improve maternal health
* To combat
HIV/AIDS , malaria , and other diseases
* To ensure environmental sustainability (one of the targets in this
goal focuses on increasing sustainable access to safe drinking water
and basic sanitation )
* To develop a global partnership for development
According to the data that member countries represented to the United
Cuba was the only nation in the world in 2006 that met the
World Wide Fund for
Nature 's definition of sustainable development ,
with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares per capita,
1.5, and a
Human Development Index of over 0.8, 0.855.
Healthy ecosystems provide vital goods and services to humans and
other organisms. There are two major ways of reducing negative human
impact and enhancing ecosystem services and the first of these is
environmental management . This direct approach is based largely on
information gained from earth science , environmental science and
conservation biology . However, this is management at the end of a
long series of indirect causal factors that are initiated by human
consumption , so a second approach is through demand management of
human resource use.
Management of human consumption of resources is an indirect approach
based largely on information gained from economics .
Herman Daly has
suggested three broad criteria for ecological sustainability:
renewable resources should provide a sustainable yield (the rate of
harvest should not exceed the rate of regeneration); for non-renewable
resources there should be equivalent development of renewable
substitutes; waste generation should not exceed the assimilative
capacity of the environment.
Sustainability and environmental management
At the global scale and in the broadest sense environmental
management involves the oceans , freshwater systems, land and
atmosphere , but following the sustainability principle of scale it
can be equally applied to any ecosystem from a tropical rainforest to
a home garden.
At a March 2009 meeting of the
Copenhagen Climate Council , 2,500
climate experts from 80 countries issued a keynote statement that
there is now "no excuse" for failing to act on global warming and that
without strong carbon reduction "abrupt or irreversible" shifts in
climate may occur that "will be very difficult for contemporary
societies to cope with". Management of the global atmosphere now
involves assessment of all aspects of the carbon cycle to identify
opportunities to address human-induced climate change and this has
become a major focus of scientific research because of the potential
catastrophic effects on biodiversity and human communities (see Energy
Other human impacts on the atmosphere include the air pollution in
cities, the pollutants including toxic chemicals like nitrogen oxides
, sulfur oxides , volatile organic compounds and airborne particulate
matter that produce photochemical smog and acid rain , and the
chlorofluorocarbons that degrade the ozone layer . Anthropogenic
particulates such as sulfate aerosols in the atmosphere reduce the
direct irradiance and reflectance (albedo ) of the
Earth 's surface.
Known as global dimming , the decrease is estimated to have been about
4% between 1960 and 1990 although the trend has subsequently reversed.
Global dimming may have disturbed the global water cycle by reducing
evaporation and rainfall in some areas. It also creates a cooling
effect and this may have partially masked the effect of greenhouse
gases on global warming .
Freshwater And Oceans
Changes in environmental conditions lead to coral bleaching and
harm to biodiversity of fragile marine ecosystems.
Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface. Of this, 97.5% is the salty
water of the oceans and only 2.5% freshwater, most of which is locked
up in the
Antarctic ice sheet
Antarctic ice sheet . The remaining freshwater is found in
glaciers, lakes, rivers, wetlands, the soil, aquifers and atmosphere.
Due to the water cycle, fresh water supply is continually replenished
by precipitation, however there is still a limited amount
necessitating management of this resource. Awareness of the global
importance of preserving water for ecosystem services has only
recently emerged as, during the 20th century, more than half the
world’s wetlands have been lost along with their valuable
environmental services. Increasing urbanization pollutes clean water
supplies and much of the world still does not have access to clean,
safe water. Greater emphasis is now being placed on the improved
management of blue (harvestable) and green (soil water available for
plant use) water, and this applies at all scales of water management.
Ocean circulation patterns have a strong influence on climate and
weather and, in turn, the food supply of both humans and other
organisms. Scientists have warned of the possibility, under the
influence of climate change, of a sudden alteration in circulation
patterns of ocean currents that could drastically alter the climate in
some regions of the globe. Ten per cent of the world's population –
about 600 million people – live in low-lying areas vulnerable to sea
A rice paddy in Bangladesh. Rice, wheat, corn and potatoes make
up more than half the world's food supply.
Loss of biodiversity stems largely from the habitat loss and
fragmentation produced by the human appropriation of land for
development, forestry and agriculture as natural capital is
progressively converted to man-made capital. Land use change is
fundamental to the operations of the biosphere because alterations in
the relative proportions of land dedicated to urbanisation ,
agriculture , forest , woodland , grassland and pasture have a marked
effect on the global water, carbon and nitrogen biogeochemical cycles
and this can impact negatively on both natural and human systems. At
the local human scale, major sustainability benefits accrue from
sustainable parks and gardens and green cities .
Neolithic Revolution about 47% of the world’s forests
have been lost to human use. Present-day forests occupy about a
quarter of the world’s ice-free land with about half of these
occurring in the tropics. In temperate and boreal regions forest area
is gradually increasing (with the exception of Siberia), but
deforestation in the tropics is of major concern.
Food is essential to life. Feeding more than seven billion human
bodies takes a heavy toll on the Earth’s resources. This begins with
the appropriation of about 38% of the Earth’s land surface and
about 20% of its net primary productivity. Added to this are the
resource-hungry activities of industrial agribusiness – everything
from the crop need for irrigation water, synthetic fertilizers and
pesticides to the resource costs of food packaging, transport (now a
major part of global trade) and retail. Environmental problems
associated with industrial agriculture and agribusiness are now being
addressed through such movements as sustainable agriculture, organic
farming and more sustainable business practices.
MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN CONSUMPTION
Consumption (economics) Helix of
sustainability – the carbon cycle of manufacturing
The underlying driver of direct human impacts on the environment is
human consumption. This impact is reduced by not only consuming less
but by also making the full cycle of production, use and disposal more
sustainable. Consumption of goods and services can be analysed and
managed at all scales through the chain of consumption, starting with
the effects of individual lifestyle choices and spending patterns,
through to the resource demands of specific goods and services, the
impacts of economic sectors, through national economies to the global
economy. Analysis of consumption patterns relates resource use to the
environmental, social and economic impacts at the scale or context
under investigation. The ideas of embodied resource use (the total
resources needed to produce a product or service), resource intensity
, and resource productivity are important tools for understanding the
impacts of consumption. Key resource categories relating to human
needs are food , energy , materials and water.
In 2010, the International
Resource Panel , hosted by the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), published the first global
scientific assessment on the impacts of consumption and production
and identified priority actions for developed and developing
countries. The study found that the most critical impacts are related
to ecosystem health, human health and resource depletion . From a
production perspective, it found that fossil-fuel combustion
processes, agriculture and fisheries have the most important impacts.
Meanwhile, from a final consumption perspective, it found that
household consumption related to mobility, shelter, food and
energy-using products cause the majority of life-cycle impacts of
Sustainable energy ,
Renewable energy , and Efficient
energy use Flow of CO2 in an ecosystem
The Sun's energy, stored by plants (primary producers ) during
photosynthesis , passes through the food chain to other organisms to
ultimately power all living processes. Since the industrial revolution
the concentrated energy of the
Sun stored in fossilized plants as
fossil fuels has been a major driver of technology which, in turn, has
been the source of both economic and political power. In 2007 climate
scientists of the IPCC concluded that there was at least a 90%
probability that atmospheric increase in CO2 was human-induced, mostly
as a result of fossil fuel emissions but, to a lesser extent from
changes in land use. Stabilizing the world’s climate will require
high-income countries to reduce their emissions by 60–90% over 2006
levels by 2050 which should hold CO2 levels at 450–650 ppm from
current levels of about 380 ppm. Above this level, temperatures could
rise by more than 2 °C to produce “catastrophic” climate change .
Reduction of current CO2 levels must be achieved against a
background of global population increase and developing countries
aspiring to energy-intensive high consumption Western lifestyles.
Reducing greenhouse emissions, is being tackled at all scales,
ranging from tracking the passage of carbon through the carbon cycle
to the commercialization of renewable energy , developing less
carbon-hungry technology and transport systems and attempts by
individuals to lead carbon neutral lifestyles by monitoring the fossil
fuel use embodied in all the goods and services they use. Engineering
of emerging technologies such as carbon-neutral fuel and energy
storage systems such as power to gas , compressed air energy storage ,
and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are necessary to store power
from transient renewable energy sources including emerging renewables
such as airborne wind turbines .
Water security and food security are inextricably linked. In the
decade 1951–60 human water withdrawals were four times greater than
the previous decade. This rapid increase resulted from scientific and
technological developments impacting through the economy –
especially the increase in irrigated land, growth in industrial and
power sectors, and intensive dam construction on all continents. This
altered the water cycle of rivers and lakes , affected their water
quality and had a significant impact on the global water cycle.
Currently towards 35% of human water use is unsustainable, drawing on
diminishing aquifers and reducing the flows of major rivers: this
percentage is likely to increase if climate change impacts become more
severe, populations increase, aquifers become progressively depleted
and supplies become polluted and unsanitary. From 1961 to 2001 water
demand doubled — agricultural use increased by 75%, industrial use
by more than 200%, and domestic use more than 400%. In the 1990s it
was estimated that humans were using 40–50% of the globally
available freshwater in the approximate proportion of 70% for
agriculture, 22% for industry , and 8% for domestic purposes with
total use progressively increasing.
Water efficiency is being improved on a global scale by increased
demand management , improved infrastructure, improved water
productivity of agriculture, minimising the water intensity (embodied
water) of goods and services, addressing shortages in the
non-industrialized world, concentrating food production in areas of
high productivity, and planning for climate change , such as through
flexible system design. A promising direction towards sustainable
development is to design systems that are flexible and reversible.
At the local level, people are becoming more self-sufficient by
harvesting rainwater and reducing use of mains water.
Feijoada — A typical black bean food dish from
Food security , and Category:Sustainable
American Public Health Association
American Public Health Association (APHA) defines a "sustainable
food system" as "one that provides healthy food to meet current food
needs while maintaining healthy ecosystems that can also provide food
for generations to come with minimal negative impact to the
environment. A sustainable food system also encourages local
production and distribution infrastructures and makes nutritious food
available, accessible, and affordable to all. Further, it is humane
and just, protecting farmers and other workers, consumers, and
communities." Concerns about the environmental impacts of
agribusiness and the stark contrast between the obesity problems of
the Western world and the poverty and food insecurity of the
developing world have generated a strong movement towards healthy,
sustainable eating as a major component of overall ethical consumerism
. The environmental effects of different dietary patterns depend on
many factors, including the proportion of animal and plant foods
consumed and the method of food production. The World Health
Organization has published a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical
Activity and Health report which was endorsed by the May 2004 World
Health Assembly . It recommends the Mediterranean diet which is
associated with health and longevity and is low in meat , rich in
fruits and vegetables , low in added sugar and limited salt, and low
in saturated fatty acids; the traditional source of fat in the
Mediterranean is olive oil , rich in monounsaturated fat . The healthy
rice-based Japanese diet is also high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
Both diets are low in meat and saturated fats and high in legumes and
other vegetables; they are associated with a low incidence of ailments
and low environmental impact.
At the global level the environmental impact of agribusiness is being
addressed through sustainable agriculture and organic farming . At the
local level there are various movements working towards local food
production, more productive use of urban wastelands and domestic
gardens including permaculture , urban horticulture , local food ,
slow food , sustainable gardening , and organic gardening .
Sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources
that can maintain or increase production in the future without
jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired. The
sustainable seafood movement has gained momentum as more people become
aware about both overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing
Materials, Toxic Substances, Waste
An electric wire reel reused as a center table in a Rio de
Janeiro decoration fair . The reuse of materials is a sustainable
practice that is rapidly growing among designers in
As global population and affluence has increased, so has the use of
various materials increased in volume, diversity and distance
transported. Included here are raw materials, minerals, synthetic
chemicals (including hazardous substances ), manufactured products,
food, living organisms and waste. By 2050, humanity could consume an
estimated 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass
per year (three times its current amount) unless the economic growth
rate is decoupled from the rate of natural resource consumption .
Developed countries' citizens consume an average of 16 tons of those
four key resources per capita, ranging up to 40 or more tons per
person in some developed countries with resource consumption levels
far beyond what is likely sustainable.
Sustainable use of materials has targeted the idea of
dematerialization , converting the linear path of materials
(extraction, use, disposal in landfill) to a circular material flow
that reuses materials as much as possible, much like the cycling and
reuse of waste in nature. This approach is supported by product
stewardship and the increasing use of material flow analysis at all
levels, especially individual countries and the global economy. The
use of sustainable biomaterials that come from renewable sources and
that can be recycled is preferred to the use on non-renewables from a
life cycle standpoint. The waste hierarchy
Synthetic chemical production has escalated following the stimulus it
received during the second World War. Chemical production includes
everything from herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers to domestic
chemicals and hazardous substances. Apart from the build-up of
greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, chemicals of particular
concern include: heavy metals , nuclear waste , chlorofluorocarbons ,
persistent organic pollutants and all harmful chemicals capable of
bioaccumulation . Although most synthetic chemicals are harmless there
needs to be rigorous testing of new chemicals, in all countries, for
adverse environmental and health effects. International legislation
has been established to deal with the global distribution and
management of dangerous goods . The effects of some chemical agents
needed long-term measurements and a lot of legal battles to realize
their danger to human health. The classification of the toxic
carcinogenic agents is handle by the International Agency for Research
on Cancer .
Every economic activity produces material that can be classified as
waste. To reduce waste, industry, business and government are now
mimicking nature by turning the waste produced by industrial
metabolism into resource. Dematerialization is being encouraged
through the ideas of industrial ecology , ecodesign and ecolabelling
. In addition to the well-established “reduce, reuse and recycle,”
shoppers are using their purchasing power for ethical consumerism .
The European Union is expected to table by the end of 2015 an
Economy package which is expected to include
concrete legislative proposals on waste management, ecodesign and
limits on land fills.
Ecological economics ,
Environmental economics ,
Green economy The Great Fish Market, painted by Jan Brueghel
On one account, sustainability "concerns the specification of a set
of actions to be taken by present persons that will not diminish the
prospects of future persons to enjoy levels of consumption, wealth,
utility, or welfare comparable to those enjoyed by present persons."
Sustainability interfaces with economics through the social and
ecological consequences of economic activity. Sustainability
economics represents: "... a broad interpretation of ecological
economics where environmental and ecological variables and issues are
basic but part of a multidimensional perspective. Social, cultural,
health-related and monetary/financial aspects have to be integrated
into the analysis." However, the concept of sustainability is much
broader than the concepts of sustained yield of welfare, resources, or
profit margins. At present, the average per capita consumption of
people in the developing world is sustainable but population numbers
are increasing and individuals are aspiring to high-consumption
Western lifestyles. The developed world population is only increasing
slightly but consumption levels are unsustainable. The challenge for
sustainability is to curb and manage Western consumption while raising
the standard of living of the developing world without increasing its
resource use and environmental impact. This must be done by using
strategies and technology that break the link between, on the one
hand, economic growth and on the other, environmental damage and
UNEP report proposes a green economy defined as one that
“improves human well-being and social equity, while significantly
reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”: it "does
not favor one political perspective over another but works to minimize
excessive depletion of natural capital ". The report makes three key
findings: “that greening not only generates increases in wealth, in
particular a gain in ecological commons or natural capital, but also
(over a period of six years) produces a higher rate of
that there is “an inextricable link between poverty eradication and
better maintenance and conservation of the ecological commons, arising
from the benefit flows from natural capital that are received directly
by the poor”; "in the transition to a green economy, new jobs are
created, which in time exceed the losses in “brown economy” jobs.
However, there is a period of job losses in transition, which requires
investment in re-skilling and re-educating the workforce”.
Several key areas have been targeted for economic analysis and
reform: the environmental effects of unconstrained economic growth;
the consequences of nature being treated as an economic externality ;
and the possibility of an economics that takes greater account of the
social and environmental consequences of market behavior.
DECOUPLING ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
Ecological economics See also: Ephemeralization
Part of a series about
Environmental pricing reform
Renewable energy commercialization
Marginal abatement cost
Pollution haven hypothesis
Carbon neutral fuel
Carbon emission trading
Personal carbon trading
Historically there has been a close correlation between economic
growth and environmental degradation : as communities grow, so the
environment declines. This trend is clearly demonstrated on graphs of
human population numbers, economic growth, and environmental
indicators. Unsustainable economic growth has been starkly compared
to the malignant growth of a cancer because it eats away at the
Earth's ecosystem services which are its life-support system. There is
concern that, unless resource use is checked, modern global
civilization will follow the path of ancient civilizations that
collapsed through overexploitation of their resource base. While
conventional economics is concerned largely with economic growth and
the efficient allocation of resources, ecological economics has the
explicit goal of sustainable scale (rather than continual growth),
fair distribution and efficient allocation, in that order. The World
Business Council for Sustainable Development states that "business
cannot succeed in societies that fail".
In economic and environmental fields, the term decoupling is becoming
increasingly used in the context of economic production and
environmental quality. When used in this way, it refers to the ability
of an economy to grow without incurring corresponding increases in
Ecological economics includes the study of
societal metabolism, the throughput of resources that enter and exit
the economic system in relation to environmental quality . An
economy that is able to sustain
GDP growth without having a negative
impact on the environment is said to be decoupled. Exactly how, if, or
to what extent this can be achieved is a subject of much debate. In
2011 the International
Resource Panel , hosted by the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP), warned that by 2050 the human race could
be devouring 140 billion tons of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and
biomass per year – three times its current rate of consumption –
unless nations can make serious attempts at decoupling. The report
noted that citizens of developed countries consume an average of 16
tons of those four key resources per capita per annum (ranging up to
40 or more tons per person in some developed countries). By
comparison, the average person in India today consumes four tons per
Sustainability studies analyse ways to reduce resource intensity
(the amount of resource (e.g. water, energy, or materials) needed for
the production, consumption and disposal of a unit of good or service)
whether this be achieved from improved economic management, product
design, or new technology.
There are conflicting views whether improvements in technological
efficiency and innovation will enable a complete decoupling of
economic growth from environmental degradation. On the one hand, it
has been claimed repeatedly by efficiency experts that resource use
intensity (i.e., energy and materials use per unit
GDP ) could in
principle be reduced by at least four or five-fold, thereby allowing
for continued economic growth without increasing resource depletion
and associated pollution. On the other hand, an extensive historical
analysis of technological efficiency improvements has conclusively
shown that improvements in the efficiency of the use of energy and
materials were almost always outpaced by economic growth, in large
part because of the rebound effect (conservation) or Jevons Paradox
resulting in a net increase in resource use and associated pollution.
Furthermore, there are inherent thermodynamic (i.e., second law of
thermodynamics ) and practical limits to all efficiency improvements.
For example, there are certain minimum unavoidable material
requirements for growing food, and there are limits to making
automobiles, houses, furniture, and other products lighter and thinner
without the risk of losing their necessary functions. Since it is
both theoretically and practically impossible to increase resource use
efficiencies indefinitely, it is equally impossible to have continued
and infinite economic growth without a concomitant increase in
resource depletion and environmental pollution, i.e., economic growth
and resource depletion can be decoupled to some degree over the short
run but not the long run. Consequently, long-term sustainability
requires the transition to a steady state economy in which total GDP
remains more or less constant, as has been advocated for decades by
Herman Daly and others in the ecological economics community.
A different proposed solution to partially decouple economic growth
from environmental degradation is the restore approach. This approach
views "restore" as a fourth component to the common reduce, reuse,
recycle motto. Participants in such efforts are encouraged to
voluntarily donate towards nature conservation a small fraction of the
financial savings they experience through a more frugal use of
resources. These financial savings would normally lead to rebound
effects, but a theoretical analysis suggests that donating even a
small fraction of the experienced savings can potentially more than
eliminate rebound effects.
NATURE AS AN ECONOMIC EXTERNALITY
Deforestation of native rain forest in
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro City for
extraction of clay for civil engineering (2009 picture) Further
The economic importance of nature is indicated by the use of the
expression ecosystem services to highlight the market relevance of an
increasingly scarce natural world that can no longer be regarded as
both unlimited and free. In general, as a commodity or service
becomes more scarce the price increases and this acts as a restraint
that encourages frugality, technical innovation and alternative
products. However, this only applies when the product or service falls
within the market system. As ecosystem services are generally treated
as economic externalities they are unpriced and therefore overused and
degraded, a situation sometimes referred to as the Tragedy of the
One approach to this dilemma has been the attempt to "internalize"
these "externalities" by using market strategies like ecotaxes and
incentives, tradeable permits for carbon, and the encouragement of
payment for ecosystem services .
Community currencies associated with
Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS), a gift economy and Time Banking
have also been promoted as a way of supporting local economies and the
Green economics is another market-based attempt to
address issues of equity and the environment. The global recession
and a range of associated government policies are likely to bring the
biggest annual fall in the world's carbon dioxide emissions in 40
Treating the environment as an externality may generate short-term
profit at the expense of sustainability. Sustainable business
practices, on the other hand, integrate ecological concerns with
social and economic ones (i.e., the triple bottom line ). Growth
that depletes ecosystem services is sometimes termed "uneconomic
growth " as it leads to a decline in quality of life . Minimizing
such growth can provide opportunities for local businesses. For
example, industrial waste can be treated as an "economic resource in
the wrong place". The benefits of waste reduction include savings from
disposal costs, fewer environmental penalties, and reduced liability
insurance. This may lead to increased market share due to an improved
Energy efficiency can also increase profits by
The idea of sustainability as a business opportunity has led to the
formation of organizations such as the
Sustainability Consortium of
Society for Organizational Learning , the Sustainable Business
Institute, and the World Council for Sustainable Development. The
expansion of sustainable business opportunities can contribute to job
creation through the introduction of green-collar workers. Research
focusing on progressive corporate leaders who have integrated
sustainability into commercial strategy has yielded a leadership
competency model for sustainability, and led to emergence of the
concept of "embedded sustainability" – defined by its authors Chris
Nadya Zhexembayeva as "incorporation of environmental,
health, and social value into the core business with no trade-off in
price or quality – in other words, with no social or green premium."
Laszlo and Zhexembayeva's research showed that embedded
sustainability offers at least seven distinct opportunities for
business value creation: a) better risk-management, b) increased
efficiency through reduced waste and resource use, c) better product
differentiation, d) new market entrances, e) enhanced brand and
reputation, f) greater opportunity to influence industry standards,
and g) greater opportunity for radical innovation. Nadya Zhexembayeva
's 2014 research further suggested that innovation driven by resource
depletion can result in fundamental advantages for company products
and services, as well as the company strategy as a whole, when right
principles of innovation are applied.
One school of thought, often labeled ecosocialism or ecological
Marxism, asserts that the capitalist economic system is fundamentally
incompatible with the ecological and social requirements of
sustainability. This theory rests on the premises that:
* Capitalism’s sole economic purpose is “unlimited capital
accumulation ” in the hands of the capitalist class
* The urge to accumulate (the profit motive ) drives capitalists to
continually reinvest and expand production, creating indefinite and
unsustainable economic growth
* “Capital tends to degrade the conditions of its own
production” (the ecosystems and resources on which any economy
Thus, according to this analysis:
* Giving economic priority to the fulfillment of human needs while
staying within ecological limits, as sustainable development demands,
is in conflict with the structural workings of capitalism
* A steady-state capitalist economy is impossible; further, a
steady-state capitalist economy is socially undesirable due to the
inevitable outcome of massive unemployment and underemployment
Capitalism will, unless overcome by revolution , run up against
the physical limits of the biosphere and self-destruct
By this logic, market-based solutions to ecological crises
(ecological economics , environmental economics , green economy ) are
rejected as technical tweaks that do not confront capitalism’s
structural failures. “Low-risk” technology/science-based
solutions such as solar power , sustainable agriculture , and
increases in energy efficiency are seen as necessary but insufficient.
“High-risk” technological solutions such as nuclear power and
climate engineering are entirely rejected. Attempts made by
businesses to “greenwash ” their practices are regarded as false
advertising, and it is pointed out that implementation of renewable
technology (such as
Walmart ’s proposition to supply their
electricity with solar power) has the effect opposite of reductions in
resource consumption , viz. further economic growth. Sustainable
business models and the triple bottom line are viewed as morally
praiseworthy but ignorant to the tendency in capitalism for the
distribution of wealth to become increasingly unequal and socially
unstable/unsustainable. Ecosocialists claim that the general
unwillingness of capitalists to tolerate—and capitalist governments
to implement—constraints on maximum profit (such as ecotaxes or
preservation and conservation measures) renders environmental reforms
incapable of facilitating large-scale change: “History teaches us
that although capitalism has at times responded to environmental
movements . . . at a certain point, at which the system’s underlying
accumulation drive is affected, its resistance to environmental
demands stiffens.” They also note that, up until the event of total
ecological collapse , destruction caused by natural disasters
generally causes an increase in economic growth and accumulation;
thus, capitalists have no foreseeable motivation to reduce the
probability of disasters (i.e. convert to sustainable/ecological
Ecosocialists advocate for the revolutionary succession of capitalism
by ecosocialism—an egalitarian economic/political/social structure
designed to harmonize human society with non-human ecology and to
fulfill human needs —as the only sufficient solution to the
present-day ecological crisis, and hence the only path towards
Sustainability is viewed not as a domain exclusive to
scientists, environmental activists, and business leaders but as a
holistic project that must involve the whole of humanity redefining
its place in
Nature : “What every environmentalist needs to know . .
. is that capitalism is not the solution but the problem, and that if
humanity is going to survive this crisis, it will do so because it has
exercised its capacity for human freedom, through social struggle, in
order to create a whole new world—in coevolution with the planet.”
Social sustainability See also: Environmental
Sustainability issues are generally expressed in scientific and
environmental terms, as well as in ethical terms of stewardship , but
implementing change is a social challenge that entails, among other
things, international and national law , urban planning and transport,
local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism . "The
relationship between human rights and human development, corporate
power and environmental justice, global poverty and citizen action,
suggest that responsible global citizenship is an inescapable element
of what may at first glance seem to be simply matters of personal
consumer and moral choice."
PEACE, SECURITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE
Social justice ,
Environmental justice ,
Social disruptions like war , crime and corruption divert resources
from areas of greatest human need, damage the capacity of societies to
plan for the future, and generally threaten human well-being and the
environment. Broad-based strategies for more sustainable social
systems include: improved education and the political empowerment of
women, especially in developing countries; greater regard for social
justice, notably equity between rich and poor both within and between
countries; and intergenerational equity. Depletion of natural
resources including fresh water increases the likelihood of
“resource wars”. This aspect of sustainability has been referred
to as environmental security and creates a clear need for global
environmental agreements to manage resources such as aquifers and
rivers which span political boundaries, and to protect shared global
systems including oceans and the atmosphere .
A major hurdle to achieve sustainability is the alleviation of
poverty. It has been widely acknowledged that poverty is one source of
environmental degradation. Such acknowledgment has been made by the
Brundtland Commission report
Our Common Future and the Millennium
Development Goals. There is a growing realization in national
governments and multilateral institutions that it is impossible to
separate economic development issues from environment issues:
according to the Brundtland report, “poverty is a major cause and
effect of global environmental problems. It is therefore futile to
attempt to deal with environmental problems without a broader
perspective that encompasses the factors underlying world poverty and
international inequality.” Individuals living in poverty tend to
rely heavily on their local ecosystem as a source for basic needs
(such as nutrition and medicine) and general well-being. As
population growth continues to increase, increasing pressure is being
placed on the local ecosystem to provide these basic essentials.
According to the UN
Population Fund, high fertility and poverty have
been strongly correlated, and the world’s poorest countries also
have the highest fertility and population growth rates. The word
sustainability is also used widely by western country development
agencies and international charities to focus their poverty
alleviation efforts in ways that can be sustained by the local
populace and its environment. For example, teaching water treatment to
the poor by boiling their water with charcoal , would not generally be
considered a sustainable strategy, whereas using PET solar water
disinfection would be. Also, sustainable best practices can involve
the recycling of materials, such as the use of recycled plastics for
lumber where deforestation has devastated a country's timber base.
Another example of sustainable practices in poverty alleviation is the
use of exported recycled materials from developed to developing
countries, such as
Bridges to Prosperity 's use of wire rope from
shipping container gantry cranes to act as the structural wire rope
for footbridges that cross rivers in poor rural areas in Asia and
HUMAN RELATIONSHIP TO NATURE
Murray Bookchin , the idea that humans must dominate
nature is common in hierarchical societies. Bookchin contends that
capitalism and market relationships, if unchecked, have the capacity
to reduce the planet to a mere resource to be exploited.
thus treated as a commodity : “The plundering of the human spirit by
the market place is paralleled by the plundering of the earth by
Social ecology , founded by Bookchin, is based on the
conviction that nearly all of humanity's present ecological problems
originate in, indeed are mere symptoms of, dysfunctional social
arrangements. Whereas most authors proceed as if our ecological
problems can be fixed by implementing recommendations which stem from
physical, biological, economic etc., studies, Bookchin's claim is that
these problems can only be resolved by understanding the underlying
social processes and intervening in those processes by applying the
concepts and methods of the social sciences.
A pure capitalist approach has also been criticized in Stern Review
Climate Change to mitigation the effects of global
warming in this excerpt ...
“the greatest example of market failure we have ever seen.”
Deep ecology is a movement founded by Arne Naess that establishes
principles for the well-being of all life on
Earth and the richness
and diversity of life forms. The movement advocates, among other
things, a substantial decrease in human population and consumption
along with the reduction of human interference with the nonhuman
world. To achieve this, deep ecologists advocate policies for basic
economic, technological, and ideological structures that will improve
the quality of life rather than the standard of living . Those who
subscribe to these principles are obliged to make the necessary change
happen. The concept of a billion-year
Sustainocene has been developed
to initiate policy consideration of an earth where human structures
power and fuel the needs of that species (for example through
artificial photosynthesis ) allowing Rights of
1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels,
underground metals, and minerals
2. Reduce dependence upon synthetic chemicals
and other unnatural substances
3. Reduce encroachment upon nature
4. Meet human needs fairly as the maximisation of existential
“felt” authenticity at sites of limited historical provenance
increases the likelihood of return visits.
Library resources about
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Bibliography of sustainability
List of sustainability topics
Outline of sustainability
Circles of Sustainability
* Pledge two or fewer (campaign for smaller families)
Sustainability and systemic change resistance
Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainable forest management
Sustainability standards and certification
World Cities Summit
World Cities Summit
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* Magdoff, F. padding:0.75em; background:#f9f9f9;"> Find more
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