Are you wondering what happened to Sustainability?
Is Sustainability Sustainable?
I should preface this piece by saying sustainability is a good thing, and I believe it is a good thing. Nevertheless, “Sustainability” (initial cap) may be winding down in favor of garden variety “sustainability” (lower case). I doubt that anyone will notice.
PROs for Sustainability
Economics - ignoring sustainability will lead to remediation costs that would not otherwise need to be incurred. Many sustainability ideas are more economical, even if their promoters can't do the math to show that they are.
Feel Good Factor - Sustainability feels good, feels right. Being sustainable makes you a better person, more in synch with the universe. Don't ask me to prove it. It's a right brain thing.
CONs for Sustainability
Complexity - Complexity is Exhibit #1. What are we talking about? energy consumption, oil consumption, greenhouse gases, waste reduction and disposal (landfills), recycling and recyclability, embodied energy, pollution, preserving nature (both plant and animal species). There is no agreement about what we mean when we say ’sustainable’. Some might say “all of the above”, which proves the point. The usual definition, “providing for your needs in a way that will allow future generations to provide for their needs”, is no help. All of this is worthwhile, but promoting sustainability is a wasted effort because no one knows what you want them TO DO.
Politics - being the darling of one party means you aren't the darling of all parties. Your future will blow hot and cold. The general inaction by the government in setting policy (at least in the USA) isn't helping the cause of Sustainability.
Trustworthiness - the lying for and against sustainability dilutes the seriousness given to the issue.
Moral Mandate - convincing everyone that they should be sustainable because it is the moral thing to do hasn’t worked for abortion, which is more immediate, and won't work with Sustainability.
Proof - There is no ironclad proof that if we do ’X’, then ’Y’ will happen. Every proof brought out so far depends on interpretation, or it gets too complicated for anyone to follow. That undermines the case for sustainability and deflates the ’Call To Action’.
Conclusion - Enough has already changed to say that we have improved our sustainability. Products and innovations will continue to reap the inherent economics of sustainability. But ’Sustainability’ as a concept will succumb to its inherent inscrutability for the masses, who will move on to the next Kardashian-like drama.
I'm just saying ...
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