What is Sustainability and Why Does it Matter?
What Is Sustainability?
Sustainability is often described in the context of sustainable development. There are many interpretations of the term, with definitions generally describing the need to achieve socioeconomic progression without depleting natural resources and negatively impacting our environment and ecology.
The Sustainability Challenge
Sustainability is a complicated proposition in a global landscape of finite resources, increasing human populations and continued socioeconomic development. Indeed, sustainability and development are seemingly at odds because economic progression is generally achieved at the expense of our environment and ecology – this effect has been especially pronounced post-industrialisation.
The fundamental question is ‘how can society maintain and improve living standards for current populations, without compromising the living standards of future generations?’
This is an important consideration if Homo sapien is to persist in the Anthropocene. Unfortunately there is no silver bullet for the sustainability conundrum. There are a myriad of conflicting political, economic, scientific and social aspects to consider, and global issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and limited capacity to produce nutritious sustenance introduce further complexity to the debate.
Why Is Sustainability Important?
The status quo cannot be maintained – it is not sustainable. The systems that support human life in a globalised society are damaging human health and the wider ecology. Human activity has increased concentrations of harmful pollutants in our atmosphere, degraded vast areas of land and driven rates of biodiversity loss to unprecedented levels – we are reaching tipping points and rapidly approaching point(s) of no return.
What Is The Answer?
It is vital that we mitigate the negative impacts of human activity. It is possible to change and improve unsustainable practices. We can regenerate natural systems and restore ecological balance in our ecosystems, but the we must take action. Increasing awareness of sustainability issues in the public domain has the potential to make the greatest short-term impacts. Individuals implementing small changes to daily activities can collectively make big differences – cumulative marginal gains!
SEEDFeed has piece on Sustainable Futures which aims to compliment this post by highlighting some things we can do as individuals to become more sustainable citizens. This article is does not intend to be a comprehensive overview of sustainability – it is an expansive topic and there are thousands of peer-reviewed articles relating to the subject.
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