What is Sustainability?

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  • Sustainability is a lens through which humans can collectively examine and act upon our shared world systems. Using the concept of sustainability provides a means be which we can analyze our own individual lifestyles and their impact on the environment upon which we depend. The extent to which sustainability is becoming a norm or a widespread or usual practice, procedure or custom by which humans live, is a matter of debate, but, what is clear, is that more and more people are giving this concept some serious consideration.
  • What is Sustainability?

    1. 1. Curriculum for the Bioregion Initiative’s Approach for Designing Integrative Sustainability Assignments “Big Idea” or concept in the discipline Sustainability context or “Big Idea” Integrative Assignment
    2. 2. Sustainability Buffet -- What's in a Definition? Modified from Laurie Webb, University of Vermont, Based on an activity used in the University of Vermont Sustainability Faculty Fellows workshop. A Lot!!!!!! Flint, W.R. 2010. Synesis: A Journal of Science, = Resources and Environment: Maintaining Technology, Ethics, and Policy, 1(1):T25-37 Systems: Natural and Social Temporal: Now into the Future Spatial: Local to Global Perspectives: Individual, Community and Cultural Learning Opportunities: Classroom to Community
    3. 3. What is Sustainability? Sustainability – it is difficult to exactly define it. “can be compared with the concept of health – as health cannot be defined in precise terms, and yet, everyone has an idea about what health is and health is important for everyone” Holmberg and Samuelson 2006 in Mann 2011, p. 106 Long-term human sustainability through the maintenance of Earth’s natural ecosystems and natural resource systems. From NASA Archives
    4. 4. What is Sustainability? • Many different definitions • What are Common Themes? - people and their environment - well-being of future generations - well-being of people today From NASA Archives
    5. 5. What is Sustainability? Sustainability = Norm = Normative Behavior? Sustainability Lens Norm = Widespread or usual practice, procedure or custom by which humans live.
    6. 6. What is Sustainability? Sustainability – “Messy Problem” Nature Earth Biodiversity Ecosystems For How Long? 25 years “Now and in the future” Forever What Is Life Support To Be Ecosystem Sustained? Services Resources Environment Community Cultures Groups Places People Child Survival Life Expectancy Education Equity Equal Opportunity Economy Linked By Only Mostly But And Or Wealth Productive Sectors Consumption What Is To Be Developed? Society Institutions Social Capital States Regions NRC- Board of Sustainable Development, 1999, Our Common Journey
    7. 7. Sustainability: A Systems Concept Static Equilibrium Input = Output At Dynamic Equilibrium Changes in Input - Changes in Output = 0 Modify Input or Output Change in System = Change in Input - Change in Output
    8. 8. Sustainability: A Systems Concept Assets Input “Income Rate” Personal Capital “Resources” Output “Expense Rate” Goal: Maintain our Financial Balance Sheet so Net Change (NC): I - 0 ≥ 0
    9. 9. Sustainability: An Example for Natural Capital Natural Assets Input “Formation Rate” “Reproduction Rate” “Replacement Rate” Natural Capital “Resources” Output “Usage Rate” Perpetual NC ≥ 0 Renewable NC ≥ 0 Non-Renewable NC << 0 Goal: Maintain our Natural Assets Balance Sheet so Net Change (NC): I - 0 ≥ 0
    10. 10. What is Sustainability? Intersection of human needs and life support systems Human Needs Food Energy Water Education Life Support Systems E.G. Air Water Rocks and Minerals (Lithosphere) Biosphere
    11. 11. What is Sustainability? Intersection of human needs and life support systems Human Needs Food Energy An energy focus, not a sustainability focus? Water Education Life Support Systems E.G. A water focus, not a sustainability focus? Air Water Rocks and Minerals Biosphere (Lithosphere)
    12. 12. What is Sustainability? Intersection of human needs and life support systems Human Needs Food An energy focus and a sustainability focus Energy Water Education Life Support Systems E.G. Air Water Rocks and Minerals (Lithosphere) Biosphere
    13. 13. What is Sustainability? Intersection of human needs and life support systems Human Needs Food Nexus of Food, Water, Climate, etc. Energy Water Education Life Support Systems E.G. Air Water Rocks and Minerals Biosphere (Lithosphere)
    14. 14. Geoscience and Grand Challenge Infusion into Sustainability Education Ecological citizenship Ecological footprint Sustainable use of resources Precautionary principle “Connect the dots” Bio mimicry Evaluate Systems thinking Sustainability Skills; ability to: Use indicators Sustainability in practice Environmental Economics Recognize trade-offs Reflect Participatory democracy Decisionmaking Water Resources Humility Respect for earth Energy Resources Critical hope Geoscience Infusion into Sustainability Habits of Mind Mineral Resources Shared responsibility Civic consciousness Biodiversity Rights of all living things Food Climate Change “INTEGRATE Grand Challenges” Waste Disposal Ecosystem services Environment Degradation Hazards Environmental history “Big Ideas” Localism Resilience Equity & Justice World view Climate change Environmental justice Ethic of care Social development Ecosystem integrity Modified from: C.R. Svendsen Skagit Valley College Thresholds; non-linear relationships
    15. 15. What is Sustainability? Environment Economy (Life-Support) (HumanNeeds) Human Sustainability and Development Equity (HumanNeeds) Sustainability requires recognition of Everything is Connected to Everything Else(ECEE)
    16. 16. What is Sustainability? The Business World is comfortable with: • The three legged stool • 3E’s • Triple Bottom Line http://computingforsustainability.wordpress.com/2009/03/15/visualising-sustainability/
    17. 17. What is Sustainability? The most critical goal of the 21st Century: • Meeting the needs of people today and in the future • Sustaining the life support systems of the planet NRC- Board of Sustainable Development, 1999, Our Common Journey

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