Friday, August 13, 2010

224 / Sustainable #2

The image with this posting is of a "sustainable dance club." The
"indigenous environmental philosophers" who developed the Redstone Declaration were also interested in "sustainability;" more precisely, they were interested in finding ways to prevent the "non-sustainable exploitation of natural resources."

Nowadays, there are "sustainable development" proposals, and "sustainable energy" proposals, and lots of other "sustainable" objects and activities. Even dance clubs have become "sustainable." What does it all mean? What does it mean to say that something is "sustainable?"

Often, when I am interested in a topic, I turn to vocabulary, and here is what the dictionary says that "sustainable" means:
  1. Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
  2. (Ecology) Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.
The "idea" of sustainability is the idea that the realities of the world are "maintained" at a certain rate or level. This makes the phrase "sustainable development," so loved by the real estate industry, into an oxymoron.

The world of Nature is "sustainable" by definition, because it works in cycles (the water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the carbon cycle). In essence, the world of Nature "sustains" itself through the cycle of life and death.

When something "ends," in the world of Nature, and thus is no longer "sustained" as an element in reality, it is incorporated, as it dies, into a new creation, and so the "balance" of life is in fact maintained.

In the world of Nature, "sustainability" depends on death.

Given that link, it is fair to ask the question whether there will ever be any real commitment to a "sustainable" future, in the world that humans create. I tend to think not.

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