Nice article in Minneapolis StarTribune: Is sustainability sustainable? by Greg Breining, June 12, 2011.
I just can’t get comfortable with the term “sustainable.” I’ve blogged about it many times, starting in 2007 with The Meaning of “Sustainable.” Proponents of sustainability seem to be be fantasizing about some utopia that could exist if we just quit consuming so much stuff, having so many babies and begin (return to?) living a subsistence life in blissful contemplation of the wonders of nature. Get real!
I do believe we can be smarter about our choices and try to discover ways to do whatever we need to do with less adverse impacts through the practice of life cycle thinking. But I don’t want to live in a world of stasis where there is no change; i.e., in a “sustainable” world. Complexity and evolutionary change is what Life is about. Adapting, being resilient and constantly learning how to thrive economically, socially and intellectually is being human. Simplistic sustainability metrics-of-the-day* aren’t sustainable. And we will never have perfect information to know exactly what is “right” to do. Good thing: that’s what makes life challenging and fun!
* Nice companion opinion by Robert Bryce on “All energy comes with a cost” that argues “renewable” energy isn’t necessarily sustainable or desirable.