From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
accepted definition of sustainability: "[to
meet] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs.”[6]
Blue Marble composite images generated by
NASA in 2001 (left) and 2002 (right).
The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of this planet.
—John F Kennedy...
Sustainability, in general terms, is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process
or state in any system. It is now most frequently used in connection with biological
and human systems. In an ecological context,
sustainability can be defined as the ability of
an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future.[1]
Sustainability has become a complex term
that can be applied to almost every system on
Earth, particularly the many different levels
of biological organization, such as; wetlands,
prairies and forests[2] and is expressed in human organization concepts, such as; eco-municipalities, sustainable cities, and human
activities and disciplines, such as; sustainable agriculture, sustainable architecture and
renewable energy.[3]
For humans to live sustainably, the
Earth’s resources must be used at a rate at
which they can be replenished. However,
there is now clear scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and that an
unprecedented collective effort is needed to
return human use of natural resources to
within sustainable limits.[4][5]
Since the 1980s, the idea of sustainable
human well-being has become increasingly
associated with the integration of economic,
social and environmental spheres. In 1989,
the World Commission on Environment and
Development (Brundtland Commission) articulated what has now become a widely
Scheme of interaction of the three "pillars" of
sustainable development[7]
Although the definition of sustainable development (above), given by the Brundtland
Commission, is frequently quoted,[8] it is not
universally accepted and has undergone various interpretations.[9][10] Definitions of sustainability may be expressed as statements of
fact, intent, or value with sustainability
"destination."[11] Where we are now, where
we need to be going, and how we are to get
there are all open to interpretation[12] and
will depend on the particular context under
consideration.[13] This difficult mix has been
described as a dialogue of values that defies
consensual definition.[14] Sustainability has
been regarded as both an important but unfocused
and as a feel-good buzzword
with little meaning or substance.[17][18][19]
The idea of sustainable development is
sometimes viewed as an oxymoron because
development inevitably depletes and degrades the environment.[20] Consequently
some definitions either avoid the word development and use the term sustainability exclusively, or emphasise the environmental
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component, as in "environmentally sustainable development."[21]
end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of
Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and
to future generations."[29]
The next section traces the evolution of
thinking about sustainability in human
Early civilizations
In early human history, although the energy
and other resource demands of nomadic
hunter-gatherers was small, the use of fire
and desire for specific foods may have
altered the natural composition of plant and
animal communities.[30] Between 8,000 and
10,000 years ago, agriculture emerged in
various regions of the world.[31] Agrarian
communities depended largely on their environment and the creation of a "structure of
permanence."[32] Societies outgrowing their
local food supply or depleting critical resources either moved on or faced collapse.
Another representation showing economy
and society bounded by the environment.[22]
The dimensions of sustainability are often
taken to be: environmental, social and economic, known as the "three pillars".[23] These
can be depicted as three overlapping circles
(or ellipses), to show that they are not mutually exclusive and can be mutually reinforcing.[24] While this model initially improved
the standing of environmental concerns,[25] it
has since been criticised for not adequately
showing that societies and economies are
fundamentally reliant on the natural world.
According to English environmentalist and
author Jonathon Porritt, "The economy is, in
the first instance, a subsystem of human society ... which is itself, in the second instance,
a subsystem of the totality of life on Earth
(the biosphere). And no subsystem can expand beyond the capacity of the total system
of which it is a part."[26] For this reason a
second diagram shows economy as a component of society, both bounded by, and dependent upon, the environment. As the American World Bank ecological economist Herman Daly famously asked, "what use is a sawmill without a forest?"[27] The concept of living within environmental constraints underpins the IUCN, UNEP and WWF definition of
sustainability: "improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems."[28]
The Earth Charter goes beyond defining
what sustainability is, and seeks to establish
the values and direction needed to achieve it:
"We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for
nature, universal human rights, economic
justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this
Sumerian harvester’s sickle, 3000 BC, made
from baked clay.
Archeological evidence suggests that the
first civilizations arose in Sumer, in southern
Mesopotamia (now Iraq) and Egypt, both dating from around 3000 BCE. By 1000 BCE,
civilizations were also established in India,
China, Mexico, Peru and in parts of
Europe.[33][34] Sumer illustrates issues central to the sustainability of human civilization.[35] Sumerian cities practiced intensive,
year-round agriculture from ca. 5300 BCE.
The surplus of storable food created by this
economy allowed the population to settle in
one place instead of migrating in search of
wild foods and grazing land. It also allowed
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for a much greater population density. The
development of agriculture in Mesopotamia
required many labourers to build and maintain its irrigation system. This, in turn, led to
political hierarchy, bureaucracy, and religious sanction, along with standing armies to
protect the emergent civilization. Intensified
agriculture allowed for population increase,
but also led to deforestation in upstream
areas with resultant flooding and over-irrigation, which raised soil salinity. While there
was a shift from the cultivation of wheat to
the more salt-tolerant barley, yields still diminished. Eventually, decreasing agricultural
production and other factors led to the decline of the civilization. From 2100 BC to
1700 BC, it is estimated that the population
was reduced by nearly sixty percent.[35][36]
Civilisations similarly thought to have eventually fallen because of poor management of resources include the Mayans, Anasazi and
Easter Islanders, among many others.[37][38]
In contrast, stable communities of shifting
cultivators and horticulturists existed in New
Guinea and South America, and large agrarian communities in China, India and elsewhere have farmed in the same localities for
centuries. Polynesian cultures have maintained stable communities for between 1,000
and 3,000 years on small islands with minimal resources using rahui[39] and kaitiakitanga[40] to control human pressure on the
environment. But it was the Western industrial revolution of the 17th to 19th centuries
that 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.[41] Such conditions led to a human population explosion
and unprecedented industrial, technological
and scientific growth that has continued to
this day, marking the commencement of a
period of global human influence known as
the Anthropocene. From 1650 to 1850 the
global population doubled from around 500
million to 1 billion people.[42]
Concerns about the environmental and social impacts of industry were expressed by
some Enlightenment political economists and
through the Romantic movement of the
1800s. Overpopulation was discussed in an
essay by Thomas Malthus (see Malthusian
catastrophe), while John Stuart Mill foresaw
the desirability of a "stationary state" economy, thus anticipating concerns of the modern
In the late 19th century Eugenius Warming was the first botanist to
study physiological relations between plants
and their environment, heralding the scientific discipline of ecology.[46]
Early 20th century
By the 20th century, the industrial revolution
had led to an exponential increase in the human consumption of resources. The increase
in health, wealth and population was perceived as a simple path of progress.[47]
However, in the 1930s economists began developing models of non-renewable resource
management (see Hotelling’s rule)[48] and
the sustainability of welfare in an economy
(Hartwick’s rule).[49]
Ecology had now gained general acceptance as a scientific discipline, and many concepts vital to sustainability were being explored. These included: the interconnectedness of all living systems in a single living
planetary system, the biosphere; the importance of natural cycles (of water, nutrients
and other chemicals, materials, waste); and
the passage of energy through trophic levels
of living systems.[50]
Emergence of industrial
A Watt steam engine, the steam engine
fuelled primarily by coal that propelled the
Industrial Revolution in Britain and the world
Technological advances over several millennia gave humans increasing control over the
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mid 20th century:
Late 20th century
Peak oil
Mitigation of peak oil
Predicting the timing of peak oil
Hubbert peak theory
Related articles
Environmental problems were now becoming
global in scale.[53][54][55][56] The 1973 and
1979 energy crises demonstrated the extent
to which the global community had become
dependent on a nonrenewable resource;
President Carter in his State of the Union Address called on Americans to "Conserve energy. Eliminate waste. Make 1980 indeed a
year of energy conservation."[57] While the
developed world was considering the problems of unchecked development the developing countries, faced with continued poverty
and deprivation, regarded development as essential to raise the living standards of their
peoples.[58] In 1980 the International Union
for Conservation of Nature had published its
influential World Conservation Strategy,[28]
followed in 1982 by its World Charter for
Nature,[59] which drew attention to the decline of the world’s ecosystems.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
First Edition
Following the deprivations of the great depression and World War II the developed
world entered a new period of escalating
growth, a post-1950s "great acceleration ... a
surge in the human enterprise that has emphatically stamped humanity as a global geophysical force."[51] A gathering environmental movement pointed out that there were environmental costs associated with the many
material benefits that were now being enjoyed. Innovations in technology (including
plastics, synthetic chemicals, nuclear energy)
and the increasing use of fossil fuels, were
transforming society. Modern industrial agriculture—the "Green Revolution" — was based
on the development of synthetic fertilizers,
herbicides and pesticides which had devastating consequences for rural wildlife, as documented by American marine biologist, naturalist and environmentalist Rachel Carson
in Silent Spring (1962).
In 1956, American geoscientist M. King
Hubbert’s peak oil theory predicted an inevitable peak of oil production, first in the United
States (between 1965 and 1970), then in successive regions of the world - with a global
peak expected thereafter.[52] In the 1970s
environmentalism’s concern with pollution,
the population explosion, consumerism and
the depletion of finite resources found expression in Small Is Beautiful, by British economist E. F. Schumacher in 1973, and The
Limits to Growth published by the global
think tank, the Club of Rome, in 1975.
Solar power trough
North America
In 1987 the United Nation’s World Commission on Environment and Development
(the Brundtland Commission), in its report
Our Common Future suggested that development was acceptable, but it must be sustainable development that would meet the needs
of the poor while not increasing environmental problems. Humanity’s demand on the planet has more than doubled over the past 45
years as a result of population growth and increasing individual consumption. In 1961 almost all countries in the world had more than
enough capacity to meet their own demand;
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by 2005 the situation had changed radically
with many countries able to meet their needs
only by importing resources from other nations.[54] A move toward sustainable living by
increasing public awareness and adoption of
recycling, and renewable energies emerged.
The development of renewable sources of energy in the 1970’s and 80’s, primarily in wind
turbines and photovoltaics and increased use
of hydroelectricity, presented some of the
first sustainable alternatives to fossil fuel and
nuclear energy generation, the first largescale solar and wind power plants appearing
during the 1980’s and 90’s.[60][61] Also at
this time many local and state governments
in developed countries began to implement
small-scale sustainability policies.[62]
society. A plethora of new concepts to help
implement and measure sustainability are becoming more widely accepted including: the
Car-free movement, Smart Growth (more sustainable urban environments), Life Cycle
Assessment (the Cradle to Cradle analysis of
resource use and environmental impact over
the life cycle of a product or process), Ecological Footprint Analysis, green building, dematerialization (increased recycling of materials), decarbonisation (removing dependence
on fossil fuels) and much more.
The work of Bina Agarwal and Vandana
Shiva amongst many others, has brought
some of the cultural wisdom of traditional,
sustainable agrarian societies into the academic discourse on sustainability, and also
blended that with modern scientific principles.[68] In 2009 the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States determined
that greenhouse gases "endanger public
health and welfare" of the American people
by contributing to climate change and causing more heat waves, droughts and flooding,
and threatening food and water supplies.[69]
Rapidly advancing technologies now provide
the means to achieve a transition of economies, energy generation, water and waste management, and food production towards sustainable practices using methods of systems
ecology and industrial ecology.[70][71]
21st century: global awareness
Renewable energy
Solar power
Tidal power
Wave power
Wind power
Principles and concepts
Through the work of climate scientists in the
IPCC there is increasing global awareness of
the threat posed by the human-induced enhanced greenhouse effect, produced largely
by forest clearing and the burning of fossil
fuels.[63][64] In March 2009 the Copenhagen
Climate Council, an international team of
leading climate scientists, issued a strongly
worded statement: "The climate system is
already moving beyond the patterns of natural variability within which our society and
economy have developed and thrived. These
parameters include global mean surface
temperature, sea-level rise, ocean and ice
sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events. There is a significant
risk that many of the trends will accelerate,
leading to an increasing risk of abrupt or irreversible climatic shifts."[65]
Ecological economics now seeks to bridge
the gap between ecology and traditional neoclassical economics.[66][67]: it provides an inclusive and ethical economic model for
Sustainability science and environmental science[72] form the basis for much of the philosophical and analytic framework of sustainability. Quantitative data is collected through
sustainability measurement and this data is
then used to inform sustainability governance.[73][74]
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
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biological and human activity or any part of
it.[75] 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."[76]
• Education and grassroots involvement
- people and communities
investigating problems and
developing new solutions[77]
Consumption, population, technology, resources
Global goals
At the global level a number of key goals
have been isolated:
The overall driver of human impact on Earth
systems is the consumption of biophysical resources. Human consumption can be divided
into three key components: population numbers, levels of consumption (affluence), and
impact per unit of resource use (which depends on the technology used). This has been
expressed through an equation:
Where: I = Environmental
impact, P = Population, A =
Affluence, T = Technology[78]
Consumption & sustainability
Key concepts
Appropriate technology
Decarbonisation · Dematerialization
Ecocentrism · Ecodesign
Ecolabelling · Ethical consumerism
I PAT · Industrial ecology
Population growth · Radical transparency
Simple living · Sustainable living
Historically, humanity has responded to a demand for more resources by trying to increase supply. Sustainability, instead, applies
demand management of all goods and services by promoting reduced consumption, using renewable resources where possible, and
encouraging practices that minimise resource intensity while maximising resource
productivity. Careful resource management
is applied at many scales, but especially at
the levels of economic sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and industry as well as
to individual goods and services and the consumption patterns of households and individuals.[79][80]
• Intergenerational equity - providing
future generations with the same
environmental potential as presently
• Decoupling economic growth from
environmental degradation managing economic growth to be less
resource intensive and less polluting
• Integration of all pillars - integrating
environmental, social and economic
sectors when developing
sustainability policies
• Ensuring environmental adaptability
and resilience - maintaining and
enhancing the adaptive capacity of
the environmental system
• Preventing irreversible long-term
damage to ecosystems and human
• Ensuring distributional equity avoiding unfair or high environmental
costs on vulnerable populations
• Accepting global responsibility assuming responsibility for
environmental effects that occur
outside areas of jurisdiction
Human population from 10,000 BC – AD
According to the 2008 Revision of the official
United Nations population estimates and projections, the world population is projected to
reach 7 billion early in 2012, up from the
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current 6.9 billion (May 2009), to exceed 9
billion people by 2050. Most of the additional
2.1 billion people will be born 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 will 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.[81] Long-term estimates 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.[82]
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
Key concepts and tools
Carbon accounting · Ecological footprint
Ecological economics
Environmental impact assessment
Environmental indicator
Environmental Performance Index
Environmental Sustainability Index
Genuine Progress Indicator
Happy Planet Index · Input output analysis
Life cycle assessment
Natural resource economics · Natural step
Social accounting · State of the Environment
Sustainability reporting · Thermoeconomics
Triple bottom line accounting
To survive on planet Earth humans must live
within its measurable biophysical constraints.[85] By establishing quantitative
measures for sustainability it is possible to
set goals, apply management strategies, and
measure progress. The Natural Step (TNS)
framework developed by Karl-Henrik Robèrt
examines sustainability and resource use
from its thermodynamic foundations to deDirect and indirect environtermine how humans use and apportion natmental impacts
ural capital in a way that is sustainable and
just. The TNS framework’s system conditions
At a fundamental level, human impacts on
of sustainability suggest a means for the
the Earth are demonstrated through detriscientifically-based measurement of sustainmental changes in the global biogeochemical
ability.[86] Natural capital includes resources
cycles of chemicals that are critical to life,
from the earth’s crust (i.e., minerals, oil),
most notably those of water, oxygen, carbon,
those produced by humans (synthetic subnitrogen and phosphorus.[84]
stances), and those of the biosphere. EquitGLOBAL BIOPHYSICAL CYCLES CRITICAL
able access to natural capital is also a comFOR LIFE
ponent of sustainability.[86] The energy generated in use of resources—referred to as exergy[87]—can be measured as the embodied
Carbon Oxygen
energy of a product or service over its life
Nitrogen cycle
cycle. Its analysis, using methods such as
Life Cycle Analysis or Ecological Footprint
Sustainability management is necessary
analysis provide basic indicators of sustainthrough all phases of impact from the direct
ability on various scales.[88]
human impacts on land, waterbodies and atThere is now a vast number of sustainabilmosphere to the indirect consumption drivers
ity indicators,[89] metrics, benchmarks, inof these direct impacts.
dices, reporting procedures, audits and more.
They include environmental, social and economic measures separately or together over
many scales and contexts. Environmental
factors are integrated with economics
Sustainability measurement
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through ecological economics, resource economics and thermoeconomics, and social
factors through metrics like the Happy Planet
Index which measures the well-being of
people in the nations of the world while taking into account their environmental impact.[90][91] Some of the best known and
most widely used sustainability measures are
listed in the side bar, they include corporate
sustainability reporting, Triple Bottom Line
accounting, and estimates of the quality of
sustainability governance for individual countries using the Environmental Sustainability
Index and Environmental Performance Index.
time, living at a globally sustainable level.
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.[92] At present Cuba is the best
example in this category.[93] 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. A
wealth of information generated by reports at
the national, regional and city scales confirm
the global trend towards societies that are
becoming less sustainable over time.[94][95]
Human sustainability
Global human impact on
Ecological footprint for different nations compared to their HDI.
Is humanity living within the carrying capacity of the planet – are humans living sustainably on planet Earth? The 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).[54] 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 overexploiting forests and fisheries).
The figure (right) indicates the sustainability of a range of countries in terms of the
Ecological Footprint compared to the UN Human Development Index (a measure of standard of living): it shows what is necessary for
countries to maintain an acceptable standard
of living for their citizens while, at the same
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is an
international synthesis by over 1000 of the
world’s leading biological scientists that analyses the state of the Earth’s ecosystems. 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 "lifesupport 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.[96]
Healthy ecosystems provide vital goods and
services to humans and other organisms.
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There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing ecosystem
a) Environmental management. This
direct approach is based largely on
information gained from earth science,
environmental science and conservation
Agroforestry · Deforestation
Desertification · Erosion
Forestry · Green revolution
Introduced species
Invasive species
Land use · Organic farming
Reafforestation · Revegetation
Salinization · Sodification
Sustainable agriculture
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.
b) Management of human consumption
of resources, an indirect approach based
largely on information gained from
In March 2009 at a 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 targets "abrupt or irreversible" shifts in climate may occur that
"will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with".[98][99] 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, sulphur oxides, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter that produce
photochemical smog and acid rain, and the
chlorofluorocarbons that degrade the ozone
layer. Anthropogenic particulates such as
sulphate 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.[100]
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.[101] Major human environmental
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.[97]
Atmosphere, oceans, freshwater,
land, forests, cultivated land
Natural Resource Management
Acid rain · Aerosols
Air pollution · Albedo
Climate change · Global dimming
Global warming
Greenhouse gases
Ozone layer · Particulate matter
Pollutants · Photochemical smog
Urban heat island
Volatile organic compounds
Water bodies
Coral bleaching · Water desalination
Eutrophication · Overfishing
Marine pollution
Ocean acidification
Polar ice · Water crisis
Water pollution
Water quality · Water resources
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Extinction · Genetic erosion
Habitat fragmentation · Invasive species
IUCN · Systems ecology
Wildlife conservation
World Conservation Monitoring Centre
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. The remaining freshwater is found in lakes, rivers,
wetlands, the soil, aquifers and atmosphere.
All life depends on the solar-powered global
water cycle, the evaporation from oceans and
land to form water vapour that later condenses from clouds as rain, which then becomes the renewable part of the freshwater
supply. [105] 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
Biodiversity-rich freshwater ecosystems are
currently declining faster than marine or
land ecosystems [106] making them the
world’s most vulnerable habitats. [54] Increasing urbanization pollutes clean water
supplies and much of the world still does not
have access to clean, safe water.[107] In the
industrial world demand management has
slowed absolute usage rates but increasingly
water is being transported over vast distances from water-rich natural areas to
population-dense urban areas and energyhungry desalination is becoming more widely
used. 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. [106]
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.[108] At the local human scale
Saltwater fish
impacts occur in the more habitable regions
of the ocean fringes – the estuaries, coastline
and bays. Ten per cent of the world’s population – about 600 million people – live in lowlying areas vulnerable to sea level rise.
Trends of concern that require management
include: over-fishing (beyond sustainable
levels); coral bleaching due to ocean warming and ocean acidification due to increasing
levels of dissolved carbon dioxide;[102] and
sea level rise due to climate change. Because
of their vastness oceans also act as a convenient
waste.[103] Remedial strategies include: more
careful waste management, statutory control
of overfishing by adoption of sustainable fishing practices and the use of environmentally
sensitive and sustainable aquaculture and
fish farming, reduction of fossil fuel emissions and restoration of coastal and other
marine habitat.[104]
Biodiversity & sustainability
Key concepts/tools/info.
Applied ecology · Biodiversity
Conservation biology · Ecosystem services
Endangered species · Environmental science
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major sustainability benefits accrue from the
pursuit of green cities and sustainable parks
and gardens.
Since the 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[109] In temperate and boreal regions
forest area is gradually increasing (with the
exception of Siberia), but deforestation in the
tropics is of major concern.[110]
reafforestation schemes, plantations and timber products. Also wood biomass can be utilized as a renewable carbon-neutral fuel. The
FAO has suggested that, over the period
2005–2050, effective use of tree planting
could absorb about 10–20% of man-made
emissions – so monitoring the condition of
the world’s forests must be part of a global
strategy to mitigate emissions and protect
ecosystem services.[112] However, climate
change may pre-empt this FAO scenario as a
study by the International Union of Forest
Research Organizations in 2009 concluded
that the stress of a 2.5C (4.5F) temperature
rise above pre-industrial levels could result in
the release of vast amounts of carbon[113] so
the potential of forests to act as carbon
"sinks" is "at risk of being lost entirely".[114]
Cultivated land
Beech Forest – Grib Skov, Denmark
Forests moderate the local climate and the
global water cycle through their light reflectance (albedo) and evapotranspiration. They
also conserve biodiversity, protect water
quality, preserve soil and soil quality, provide
fuel and pharmaceuticals, and purify the air.
These free ecosystem services have no market value and so forest conservation has little
appeal when compared with the economic benefits of logging and clearance which,
through soil degradation and organic decomposition returns carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.[111] The United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates
that about 90% of the carbon stored in land
vegetation is locked up in trees and that they
sequester about 50% more carbon than is
present in the atmosphere. Changes in land
use currently contribute about 20% of total
global carbon emissions (heavily logged Indonesia and Brazil are a major source of
emissions).[111] Climate change can be mitigated
Rice paddy
Feeding more than six 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[115] and
about 20% of its net primary productivity.[116] Added to this are the resourcehungry 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. Food is essential to life. But the list of
environmental costs of food production is a
long one: topsoil depletion, erosion and conversion to desert from constant tillage of annual crops; overgrazing; salinization; sodification; waterlogging; high levels of fossil fuel
use; reliance on inorganic fertilisers and
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
synthetic organic pesticides; reductions in
genetic diversity by the mass use of monocultures; water resource depletion; pollution of
waterbodies by run-off and groundwater contamination; social problems including the decline of family farms and weakening of rural
All of these 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.[118]
The 2008 IUCN Red List warns that longterm droughts and extreme weather put additional stress on key habitats and, for example, lists 1,226 bird species as threatened
with extinction, which is one-in-eight of all
bird species.[122][123] The Red List Index also
identifies 44 tree species in Central Asia as
under threat of extinction due to over-exploitation and human development and threatening the region’s forests which are home to
more than 300 wild ancestors of modern domesticated fruit and nut cultivars.[124]
Biological invasions
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) infesting trees in Atlanta, Georgia
In many parts of the industrial world land
clearing for agriculture has diminished and
here the greatest threat to biodiversity, after
climate change, has become the destructive
effect of invasive species.[125] Increasingly
efficient global transport has facilitated the
spread of organisms across the planet. The
potential danger of this aspect of globalization is starkly illustrated through the spread
of human diseases like HIV AIDS, mad cow
disease, bird flu and swine flu, but invasive
plants and animals are also having a devastating impact on native biodiversity. Non-indigenous organisms can quickly occupy disturbed land and natural areas where, in the
absence of their natural predators, they are
able to thrive.[126] At the global scale this issue is being addressed through the Global Invasive Species Information Network but
there is improved international biosecurity
legislation to minimise the transmission of
pathogens and invasive organisms. Also,
through CITES legislation there is control the
trade in rare and threatened species. Increasingly at the local level public awareness
programs are alerting communities, gardeners, the nursery industry, collectors, and the
The extinct Dodo (Raphus cucullatus)
Although biodiversity loss can be monitored
simply as loss of species, effective conservation demands the protection of species within
their natural habitats and ecosystems. Following human migration and population
growth, species extinctions have progressively increased to a rate unprecedented since
the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event.
Known as the Holocene extinction event this
current human-induced extinction of species
ranks as one of the worlds six mass extinction events. Some scientific estimates indicate that up to half of presently existing species may become extinct by 2100.[119][120]
Current extinction rates are 100 to 1000
times their prehuman levels with more than
10% birds and mammals threatened, about
8% of plants, 5% of fish and more than 20%
of freshwater species. [121]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Energy, water, food
pet and aquarium industries, to the harmful
effects of potentially invasive species.[127]
Management of human
Flow of CO2 in the global 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. Stabilize 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 and temperatures
could rise by more than 2 °C (36 °F) to produce “catastrophic” climate change.[128][129]
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.[130]
Reducing greenhouse emissions, referred
to as decarbonization, is being tackled at all
scales, ranging from tracking the passage of
carbon through the carbon cycle [131] to the
exploration of renewable energies, 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.[132]
Helix of sustainability – the carbon cycle of
Direct human impacts on the environment
are the result of the indirect underlying
driver of these impacts which is human consumption. Impact is reduced by not only consuming less but by also making the full cycle
of production, use and disposal of goods and
services more sustainable. Consumption of
goods and services can be analysed and managed at all scales through the chain of human
consumption, starting with the effects of individual lifestyle choices and spending patterns, through to the resource demands of
specific goods and services, then the impacts
of economic sectors and even national economies. Analysis of individual and collective
consumption patterns takes account of total
resource use and this is then related to the
environmental, social and economic impacts
of that resource use in the particular context
under investigation. The ideas of embodied
resource use (the total resources needed to
produce a product or service ), resource intensity (the resources needed for each dollar
spent on a good or service), and resource
productivity (the amount of good or service
produced for a given input of resource) are
important aspects of consumption management. At a simple level human consumption
can be examined through resouce the demand for the resource building blocks of
food, energy, materials and water.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
sufficient by harvesting rainwater and reducing use of mains water. [106][136]
Water & sustainability
Key concepts
Water desalination · Groundwater
Peak water · Virtual water
Water resources · Water crisis
Water cycle · Water stress
Water distribution on Earth
Food & sustainability
Key concepts
Agroecology · Biodynamic agriculture
Community gardening · Ecoagriculture
Food miles · Food waste
Forest gardening · Fukuoka farming
Guerrilla gardening · Local food
Low carbon diet · No-till farming
Organic agriculture · Organic gardening
Permaculture · Urban agriculture
Slow food · Sustainable agriculture
Urban gardening · Urban horticulture
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.[133] 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 worsens, populations increase, aquifers become progressively
depleted and supplies become polluted and
unsanitary. [134] From 1961 to 2001 water
demand doubled - agricultural use increased
by 75%, industrial use by more than 200%,
and domestic use more than 400%. [135] Humans currently use 40-50% of the globally
available freshwater in the approximate proportion of 70% for agriculture, 22% for industry, and 8% for domestic purposes and
the total volume is progressively increasing.[133]
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-industrialised world, concentrating
food production in areas of high productivity;
and planning for climate change. At the local
level people are becoming more water-self-
The American Public Health Association
(APHA) defines a "sustainable food system"[137][138] 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."[139] 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.[140] The environmental effects of different dietary patterns
depend on many factors, including the proportion of animal and plant foods consumed
production.[141][142][143][144] The World Health Organization has published a Global Strategy
on Diet, Physical Activity and Health which
was endorsed by the May 2004 World Health
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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.[145]
At the global level the environmental impact of agribusiness is being address 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[146], urban horticulture, local food,
slow food, and organic gardening.[147]
Recyclable materials
Plastic · Aluminium · Glass · Paper
Textiles · Timber · Scrap · Waste types
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.
[149] 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.[150]
Toxic substances
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. [151] Apart from the buildup 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 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.[152][153]
Materials, toxic substances, waste
As global population and affluence increases,
so does the use of materials which has 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. [148]
Dematerialization and sustainability
Key concepts
Waste Management Hierarchy
Reduce · Reuse · Recycle
Barter · Dematerialization
Dumpster diving · Ecodesign
Ethical consumerism · Freeganism
Extended producer responsibility
Industrial ecology
Industrial metabolism
Material flow analysis
Product stewardship
Simple living · Zero waste
The waste hierarchy
Every economic activity produces waste. The
average human uses 45-85 tonnes of materials each year. [148] To reduce waste industry,
business and government are now mimicing
nature by turning the waste produced by industrial metabolism into resource. Dematerialization is being encouraged through the
ideas of industrial ecology, ecodesign [154]
and ecolabelling (see side bar). In addition to
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Decoupling environmental degradation and economic growth
the well-established “reduce, reuse and recycle” shoppers are using their purchasing
power for ethical consumerism.[155]
Economic dimension
The Great Fish Market, painted by Jan
Brueghel the Elder
International Recycle Symbol
Sustainability interfaces with economics
through the social and ecological consequences of economic activity.[156] 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."[157] 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
resource depletion.[158]
In addressing this issue 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 a more ethical
economics that takes greater account of the
social and environmental consequences of
market behaviour.[159]
In the second half of the 20th century world
population doubled, food production tripled,
energy use quadrupled, and overall economic
activity quintupled.[160] 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. [161] Unsustainable economic
growth has been starkly compared to the malignant growth of a cancer[162] 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
The World Business Council
for Sustainable Development states that
"business cannot succeed in societies that
fail"[165] Sustainability studies analyse ways
to reduce (decouple) 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, new technology etc.
[166] Ecological economics includes the study
of societal metabolism, the throughput of resources that enter and exit the economic
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
system in relation to environmental quality.[167][168]
and an increasing willingness to accept payment for ecosystem services. Green economics encourages alternatives to free market
capitalism by supporting a gift economy, local currencies, Local Exchange Trading Systems and other methods (see side bar).[171]
Nature as an economic
Economic opportunity
By focussing on the triple bottom line, sustainable business practices attempt to integrate ecological concerns with social and economic ones. This approach treats sustainability as a business opportunity. The benefits of
waste reduction in industry include savings
from disposal costs, fewer environmental
penalties, and reduced liability insurance.[172] Energy efficiency can increase
profit margins through reducing costs. This
approach has led to the formation of organizations like Entrepreneurs for Sustainability in
the Greater Cleveland area which are oriented towards small and medium sized enterprises.[173] Ideas of sustainability as a driver
of job creation through green collar jobs has
gained recent attention.[174]
Economics & sustainability
Key concepts
Bioeconomics · Carbon finance
Corporate social responsibility
Ecological economics
Ecotax · Energy accounting
Energy economics · Environmental economics
Environmental finance
Environmental pricing reform
Ethical banking · Ethical investing
Ethical consumerism · Fair trade
Financial capital · Fiscal environmentalism
Gift economy · Human capital ·
Local currency · Local currency
Local Exchange Trading Systems
Natural capital · Natural economy
Natural resource economics
Sustainopreneurship · Social capital
Social dimension
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.[169] 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.[170] 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 Commons.[169]
Part of the business of protecting the biological world has been the "internalisation" of
these "externalities" using market strategies
like ecotaxes and incentives, tradable permits for carbon, water and nitrogen use etc.,
Society & sustainability
Key concepts
Corruption · Crime
Environmental law
Environmental refugees
Environmental security
Globalisation · Human capital
Megalopolis · Human migration
Peace · Security
Social justice
Sustainable living
Urbanisation · War
Sustainability issues are generally expressed
in scientific and environmental terms, 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
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ethical consumerism.[175] "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."[176]
reliant communities based on principles of
simple living, which maximise self-sufficiency
particularly in food production. These principles, on a broader scale, underpin the
concept of a bioregional economy.[181] Other
approaches, loosely based around new urbanism, are successfully reducing environmental
impacts by altering the built environment to
create and preserve sustainable cities which
support sustainable transport. Residents in
compact urban neighbourhoods drive fewer
miles, and have significantly lower environmental impacts across a range of measures,
compared with those living in sprawling suburbs.[182]
Ultimately, the degree of human progress
towards sustainability will depend on large
scale social movements which influence both
community choices and the built environment. Eco-municipalities may be one such
movement.[183] Eco-municipalities take a systems approach, based on sustainability principles. The eco-municipality movement is participatory, involving community members in a
bottom-up approach. In Sweden, more than
70 cities and towns — 25 per cent of all municipalities in the country — have adopted a
common set of "Sustainability Principles" and
implemented these systematically throughout
their municipal operations. There are now
twelve eco-municipalities in the United
States and the American Planning Association has adopted sustainability objectives
based on the same principles.[184]
Peace, security, social justice
Social disruptions like war, crime and corruption divert resources from areas of greatest
human need, they damage the capacity of societies to plan for the future and generally
threaten human well-being and the environment.[176] 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. [177] Depletion of natural resources
including fresh water[178] increases the likelihood of “resource wars”.[179] 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 global systems including oceans and the
Human settlements
Human relationship to nature
Sustainability principles
1. Reduce dependence upon fossil fuels,
underground metals, and minerals.
2. Reduce dependence upon synthetic
and other unnatural substances.
3. Reduce encroachment upon nature.
4. Meet human needs fairly & efficiently.[184]
Local sustainability
Local concepts
Barter · Bioregionalism
Ecovillage · Eco-municipality
Gift economy · Local currency
Simple living
Rural communities
Social accounting
Technocracy movement
According to 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.
Nature is thus treated as a commodity: “The
plundering of the human spirit by the market
place is paralleled by the plundering of the
earth by capital.” [185]
One approach to sustainable living, exemplified by small-scale urban transition towns
and rural ecovillages, seeks to create self-
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Social ecology, founded by Bookchin, is
based on the conviction that nearly all of humanity’s present ecological problems originate in deep-seated social problems. Thus ecological problems cannot be understood
without understanding society and its irrationalities. Bookchin believed that apart from
natural catastrophes, it is economic, ethnic,
cultural, and gender conflicts that have produced the most serious ecological dislocations faced by human civilization today.[186]
Deep ecology establishes principles for
the well-being of all life on Earth and the
richness and diversity of life forms. This is
only compatible with a substantial decrease
of the human population and the end 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.[187]
The earth has a finite capacity to provide resources and to absorb waste, and human demands already exceed that capacity.[188] Current lifestyles in the developed world, to
which many people in the developing world
also aspire, rely on depleting natural capital
and are unsustainable.[189] The United Nations have stated, in the Millennium Declaration, that "current unsustainable patterns of
production and consumption must be
changed".[190] Yet weight of information and
scientific evidence is often insufficient to produce necessary social change, especially if
that change entails moving people out of
their comfort zones.[191]
There is a wealth of advice available to individuals wishing to reduce their personal impact on the environment through small,
cheap and easily achievable steps.[192] But
the transition required to reduce global human consumption to within sustainable limits
involves much larger changes, at all levels
and contexts of society.[193] The United Nations have recognised the central role of education, and have declared a decade of education for sustainable development, 2005-2014,
which aims to "challenge us all to adopt new
behaviours and practices to secure our future".[194] The Worldwide Fund for Nature
A new approach to human use of the
proposes a strategy for sustainability that
goes beyond education to tackle underlying
individualistic and materialistic societal
values head-on and strengthen people’s connections with the natural world.[195]
The level of change required to safeguard
the life-supporting capacity of the Earth sets
new challenges for community and political
structures.[196] Al Gore states that "We have
everything we need, save perhaps, political
will. But, you know what, political will is a renewable resource.” [197] Political views are
changing; in 2008 United States President
George Bush joked about being "the world’s
biggest polluter"[198] but Barack Obama
promised "Generations from now, we will be
able to look back and tell our children that
[...] this was the moment when the rise of the
oceans began to slow and our planet began
to heal". [199]
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
See also
[7] Adams, W.M. (22 May 2006). "The
Future of Sustainability: Re-thinking
Environment and Development in the
Twenty-first Century." Report of the
IUCN Renowned Thinkers Meeting,
29-31 January, 2006. Retrieved on:
[8] International Institute for Sustainable
Development (2009). "What is
Sustainable Development?". Retrieved on
[9] EurActiv (17 August 2004). Sustainable
Development: Introduction. Retrieved
on: 2009-02-24
[10] Kates, R., Parris, T. & Leiserowitz, A.
(2005). "What is Sustainable
Development?" Environment 47(3):
8-21.[2] Retrieved on: 2009-04-14.
[11] Commonwealth of Australia (2007).
"Defining Sustainability." House
Standing Committee on Environment and
Heritage, Inquiry into a Sustainability
Charter. Chapter 2. Retrieved on
[12] Holling, C. S. (2000) "Theories for
sustainable futures" Conservation
Ecology 4(2): 7. Retrieved on:
[13] UNESCO. "Sustainable development an
evolving concept." [3] Retrieved on:
[14] Ratner, B.D. (2004). "Sustainability as a
Dialogue of Values: Challenges to the
Sociology of Development." Sociological
Inquiry 74(1): 50-69.
[15] Pearce, D., Barbier, E.. & Markandya, A.
(2000). Sustainable Development
Economics and Environment in the Third
World. Earthscan, London. ISBN
1853830887, 9781853830884
[16] Blewitt, J. (2008). Understanding
Sustainable Development. Earthscan,
London. ISBN 9781844074549
[17] Dunning, B. (November 01, 2006).
"Sustainable Sustainability." Skeptoid.
Retrieved on: 2009-02-16.
[18] Marshall, J.D. & Toffel, M.W. (2005).
"Framing the Elusive Concept of
Sustainability: A Sustainability
Hierarchy." Environmental & Scientific
Technology 39(3): 673–682.
[19] Huddelson, B. (2008). "Sustainability.
The Overtly Ambiguous Buzzword."
Mustangdaily 5/23/08. Retrieved on:
Applied Sustainability
Conservation ethic
Conservation movement
Conservation reliant species
Energy and Environment
Environmental movement
Environmental protection
Ecology movement
Habitat conservation
List of sustainability principles
Natural resource
Social sustainability
Timeline of environmental events
Water conservation
Zero carbon city
[1] Regional Ecosystem Office (U.S) REO
Information Center Definitions.
Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP).
Definition of ecological sustainability.
Retrieved on: 2009-03-10
[2] Ausubel, K.; Harpignies, J. (2004).
Nature’s Operating Instructions: The
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Sierra Club Books. ISBN
GreenAll.html U.C. Berkeley Library
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[4] Gismondi, M. (2000). Interview of Dr.
William Rees. Aurora Online. Retrieved
on 2009-03-10
[5] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
(2005). Ecosystems and Human Wellbeing: Biodiversity Synthesis. Summary
for Decision-makers. pp.1-16.
Washington, DC.: World Resources
Institute. The full range of reports is
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[6] United Nations General Assembly (1987)
Report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development: Our
Common Future. Transmitted to the
General Assembly as an Annex to
document A/42/427 - Development and
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[20] Redclift, M. (2005). "Sustainable
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[21] World Bank (1994) "Valuing the
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[22] Ott, K. (2003). "The Case for Strong
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[23] United Nations General Assembly (24
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[24] Forestry Commission of Great Britain.
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[25] Ott, K. and P. Thapa (2003) Greifswald’s
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[26] Porritt, J. (2006). Capitalism as if the
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[30] Scholes, R. (2003) Stories from the Stone
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[32] Clarke, William C. (1977). "The Structure
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[33] Kramer, S. (1988). History Begins at
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Further reading
• Atkinson, G., Dietz, S. & Neumayer, E.
(2007). Handbook of Sustainable
Development. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
ISBN 978-1-84376-577-6.
• Benyus, J. (1997). Biomimicry: Innovations
Inspired by Nature. New York: William
Morrow. ISBN 0060533226.
• Blackburn, W.R. (2007). The Sustainability
Handbook. London: Earthscan. ISBN
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
• Bookchin, M. (2005). The Ecology of
Freedom: the Emergence and Dissolution
of Hierarchy. Oakland, CA.: AK Press.
ISBN 9781904859260.
• Brundtland, G.H. (ed.), (1987). Our
Common Future: The World Commission
on Environment and Development, Oxford:
Oxford University Press. ISBN
• Costanza, R., Graumlich, L.J. & Steffen, W.
(eds), (2007). Sustainability or Collapse?
An Integrated History and Future of
People on Earth. Cambridge, MA.: MIT
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• Cothran, H. (ed.). (2003). Global
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• Daly H. (1996). Beyond Growth: The
Economics of Sustainable Development.
Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN
• Daly H. and J. Cobb. (1989). For the
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a Sustainable Future. Boston: Beacon
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• Dodds, W.K. (2008). Humanity’s Footprint:
Momentum, Impact, and our Global
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University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-13967-0
• Hargroves, K. & Smith, M. (eds.) (2005).
The Natural Advantage of Nations:
Business Opportunities, Innovation and
Governance in the 21st Century. London:
1-84407-121-9. (See the books online
companion at [26]) Retrieved on:
• McDonough, W. & Braungart, M. (2002).
Cradle to Cradle. New York: North Point
Press. ISBN 0-8654-75873.
• Norton, B. (2005). Sustainability, A
Philosophy of Adaptive Ecosystem
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Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226595214.
• Richardson, B.J. and Wood, S. (eds)
(2006). Environmental Law for
Sustainability: a Reader. Oxford: Hart
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• Robèrt, K-H. (2002). The Natural Step
Story: Seeding a Quiet Revolution.
Gabriola Island, BC.: New Society
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• Speth, J.G. (2008). The Bridge at the edge
of the World: Capitalism, the
Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to
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• Steffen, A. (2006). Worldchanging: A
User’s Guide to the 21st Century. New
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• Adams, W. M. and Jeanrenaud, S. J.
(2008). Transition to Sustainability:
Towards a Humane and Diverse World.
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External links
• Sustainability at the Open Directory
• Microdocs: [29] Elements of sustainability
• [30] Roadmap for a Sustainable Earth, an
on-line book by Hiroshi Komiyama and
Steven Kraines
• [31] Learning for sustainability web site
• [32] International Federation of
Accountants Sustainability Framework
• [33] Sustainable Food Guidelines
published by Sustain: The alliance for
better food and farming (UK)
• [34] IHOPE, Integrated History and future
Of People on Earth, an academic
transdisciplinary research program
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
investigating the integration of human
history and Earth system changes
• [35] IGBP, The International GeosphereBiosphere Programme, a research
program that provides scientific
knowledge to improve the sustainability of
the living Earthby studying the
interactions between biological, chemical
and physical processes and interactions
with human systems and collaborates with
other programmes to develop and impart
the understanding necessary to respond to
global change
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Categories: Sustainability, Environmental terminology
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