Exploring sustainability/Environmental sustainability

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Environmental sustainability is what comes into the mind of most people when they think of sustainability: climate change, pollution, etc.

One definition of environmental sustainability (Daly & Cobb, 1987 as cited in Goodman, 2002) states that

  • Waste should be kept within the limits of the environment that they are released into
  • Renewable resources (e.g. fish, timber, etc.) should be only harvested at or under the rate of natural replenishment
  • Non-renewable resources (e.g. oil, minerals) should be extracted at or under the historical rate at which renewable substitutes have been developed by human invention or investment.

“Humanity must learn to live within the limits of the biophysical environment”

(Goodman, 2002)

“When the human economic subsystem was small, the regenerative and assimilative capacities of the environment appeared infinite. We are now painfully learning that environmental sources and sinks are finite. Originally, these capacities were very large, but the scale of the human economy has exceeded them.”

(Goodman, 2002)

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