For Achieving Sustainability there are Infinite Possibilities

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Ever since Jimmy Carter’s infamous “Crisis of Confidence” speech calling on Americans to conserve energy, Sustainability has acquired an (undeserved) reputation of requiring a dark, sweater-wearing future. But that is thinking about it all backwards, Sustainability is really about achieving the future that we want. That is not is not to say that we can have any future we want. I like to visualize our Sustainable futures as the diagram below illustrates:

Sustainable Futures Space

Now here is what some might consider the bad news, there are futures which are unsustainable (and I would argue therefore inherently impossible to maintain equitably). All seven billion people on Earth can not own their own Hummers and drive them out to their McMansions everyday- that imagined future would, I am afraid, fall in the red zone. While it is pretty easy to imagine such an obviously unsustainable future, determining whether a future is Sustainable is trickier. These are what we would call the “boundary conditions” for a Sustainable future. These boundary conditions should be determinable via scientific inquiry-basically what are the biophysical limits of our planet.

SustaianbleFuturesSpace  with Boundaries

The most obvious example would be space. There is not enough coastline that we can all have ocean-front beach homes, that exceed the physical limitations of our planet. These boundary conditions are very important and we’ll discuss them future in one or more future posts. So far it probably seems that I have not really strayed too far from the notorious Jimmy Carter, but here is the good news.

Sustainable Future Space is Infinite

Within the boundary conditions imposed by the biophysical limits of our planet are an INFINITE number of possible futures which are Sustainable! Deciding among these infinite possibilities is a fun and exciting challenge which must involve every last one of us.

What are you waiting for? Your Sustainable future awaits!
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SustainabLINKS September 8, 2014

Food news: Christie Wilcox covers in more depth what I wrote about briefly, how concerned should we be about pesticide residue on food? “To date, there is no scientific evidence that eating an organic diet leads to better health.” Two interesting graphics-how the world wastes food and a fun set of glimpses of what a … Read more…

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What does Dog Rescuing have to do with Sustainability?

In today’s guest post Dr. Erin Redman shares one of her passions with us and discusses how our treatment of companion animals relates to Sustainability. Achieving Sustainability requires that we: Accept responsibility for the cascading effects of our actions (& understand the cascading effects of our actions). Have empathy for others—this includes, for example, removing … Read more…

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SustainabLINKS September 1, 2014

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The World Leaders in Bike Sharing Programs are really all in China

I must admit that I generally greet the regular semi-sensational internet titles about how China is Achieving Sustainability such as “China has just built 20 million miles of high speed rail when the USA can’t build any” with a large degree of skepticism. For this I have three main justifications: Authoritarian governments can make absolute … Read more…

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A Paradox Grows into a Conundrum

In his 2011 book Conundrum, David Owen asks a fundamental question–can we commit to doing what is necessary to really Achieving Sustainability? Are we willing to make the necessary sacrifices, to reduce our consumption as both individuals and societies on a massive scale? As his subtitle points out Owen is really asking these questions about … Read more…

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SustainabLINKS August 26, 2014

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Update on Sustainability in Spanish

When I wrote about the two competing words for Sustainability in Spanish, I focused my discussion on using some of Google’s tools to analyze usage in the hopes of providing a new perspective on the issue. I have neither standing nor the ability to comment personally on the linguistic appropriateness of the two sustainabilitys. Fortunately, … Read more…

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SustainabLINKS August 18, 2014

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What is Sustainability research?

Today we have a guest post from Dr. Erin Redman on our current research in Mexico and what makes Sustainability research unique. Many people know what ecologists or cell biologists study but what do Sustainability scientists research? First, since I believe that Sustainability is ultimately a human endeavor, 100% of our research includes interacting with … Read more…

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