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The Concept of Sustainability Part II: Addendum October 12, 2006

Posted by Michael Hoexter in Uncategorized.

In my post earlier this week on the Concept of Sustainability, I left out an important bullet point. As I had thought about my post over a period of days sometimes without the help of a computer or pen and paper, I suppose it was not such a surprise that something would get left out…

In my last post I created a list of the tendencies or crystalization points within the broader sustainability concept.  These crystalization points singly or in combination, tend to characterize specific activities and ideas within sustainability.  I left out the following item:

5.   Greener  Innovation and Invention –  Transforming our societies and economies in a sustainable direction will in almost every case involve technical innovation and innovations in social arrangements and institutions.  There are variations in emphasis in this category though as there are also those who feel that a return to older technology or older ways is more sustainable.   Others feel that sustainability is itself a largely technological challenge.   Innovations in social rules and relationships should not be forgotten as part of this theme.

I’ve numbered this item “5” because it is approximately the 5th most characteristic aspect of sustainability as a whole.  So the list will now look like this:

  1.  Balanced exchange between humanity and nature
  2. (Holistic) Systems thinking
  3. Long Time-horizon/Responsibility for the future
  4. Efficiency/Conservation
  5. Greener Innovation and Invention
  6. Fairness/Equity
  7. Biomimicry and Biophilia
  8. Linking and Valuing the Local and the Global

Many discussions about solutions to the crisis in sustainability have to do with the choice of technologies and new social arrangements that would yield a more sustainable society.  As suggested above there are those who are not favorably disposed toward innovation while others are totally focused on technical innovation, sometimes to the exclusion of other issues.

I will discuss how these different points of emphasis shape how we think about sustainability and the course of discussions about what to do next.



1. Energy and Materials Efficiency: Shortcut to Sustainability or Postponing Hard Choices? « Green Thoughts - November 30, 2007

[…] In the catalog of the aspects of sustainability I created (blog posts of October 10th and 12th), I placed what I called “Efficiency/Conservation” as the 4th most central aspect of ecological sustainability: […]

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