“Sustainability” is Not Sustainable

EnviroWackoismThumbby Brad Nelson
In the march to greater over-emphasis on security at all costs — with clear underpinnings of Marxism and environmental paganism — there is this new word called “sustainability.” Here’s the definition from Wiki (which I clipped some time ago and so it may have changed):

Sustainability is the capacity to endure. In ecology the word describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time. For humans it is the potential for long-term maintenance of well being, which in turn depends on the well being of the natural world and the responsible use of natural resources.

Sustainability has become a wide-ranging term that can be applied to almost every facet of life on Earth, from local to a global scale and over various time periods. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. Invisible chemical cycles redistribute water, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon through the world’s living and non-living systems, and have sustained life for millions of years. As the earth’s human population has increased, natural ecosystems have declined and changes in the balance of natural cycles has had a negative impact on both humans and other living systems.[1]

There is abundant scientific evidence that humanity is living unsustainably, and returning human use of natural resources to within sustainable limits will require a major collective effort.[1] Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from reorganising living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), reappraising economic sectors (permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or work practices (sustainable architecture), using science to develop new technologies (green technologies, renewable energy), to adjustments in individual lifestyles that conserve natural resources.

Note in the last paragraph that it says it will take a “collective effort.” Given the deluge of Obama-socialism that we’re being inundated with at the moment (and, really, for decades now in the West), and given the recent examples of the fraudulent (but not quite dead yet) claims of global warming, your skepticism should be engaged. With the idea of “sustainability,” we have just encountered a new form of politicized irrationalism because it is a word that has no specific scientific definition, nor can it have one, for nothing in this world has ever really been “sustainable,” other than change itself. The idea of “sustainability” serves the purposes of statism, hysteria, and socialism because any impact or just change — no matter how small, and especially no matter how natural or normal — will be deemed a reason for government to intrude on your life or your business.

Those who are able to propagandize the idea of “sustainability” as a supposedly objective and precise scientific idea, and a supposedly inherently good thing, will then be able to define those who oppose this undefinable and open-ended idea as polluters, destroyers, and capitalist pillagers of the earth. Again, we have political correctness trumping facts and reason — just as with the global warming farce where CO2 was trumped-up as a deadly poison . . . so much so that it is supposedly necessary to have government tax us to death. At some point, we just need to get a clue as citizens if we want to remain free and prosperous.

No species operates in a “sustainable” way. Whatever balance that seems to be achieved is simply a momentary snapshot of the forces which are all in play, and are all opposing or supporting one another in both competitive and symbiotic relationships. The core error of this Leftist anti-scientific idea of “sustainability” is that natural systems of any type are homeostatic systems. They are not and have never been. We make a grave and irrational error if we assume the idea of nature as “perfectly balanced” and therefore conclude that if things change it is the fault of humans.

“Sustainability” is yet another word that sounds good, but scratch the surface and absurdities abound. Imagine, for example, the idea of “sustainability” in the free market, especially as it relates to your business (or even your family). It would mean that if your business (or family) grew or shrank, this would be a sign of something being terribly wrong. Evolution itself would laugh at this naive notion of “sustainability” as species are at this moment in direct and deadly competition with each other. No elephant who wishes to survive and thrive wishes to “sustain” the lion population, for example. “Sustainability” is the Marxist-Leftist wedge for controlling that which cannot, and should not, be controlled. So-called “sustainability” is a direct assault on any notion of human progress and is yet another deceptive word being forwarded by statists of all stripes.

So long as we define anti-pollution efforts in the Orwellian language of “sustainability” we will be less concerned with reducing waste and pollution and more concerned with the various quasi-Marxist initiatives that all result in government control of our lives. And one must remember that it is human technological progress that leads to reductions in pollution and waste as innovation (not stasis) provides the answers. The last thing we want is the stasis produced by wrong-headed anti-humanist notions of “sustainability” and freeze where we are. To remain forever as we are now is to doom us. To measure supposedly adverse human “impact” in terms of how it changes things is irrational, anti-human, and anti-scientific.

Technically speaking, the sun is not “sustainable.” It will burn out in about 4 billion years. Our bodies themselves are not “sustainable.” Most of us will die before we reach the age of ninety. Thank god childhood itself is not “sustainable,” for we eventually do grow up and take on adult aspirations and responsibilities (and no longer have to take care of our children in perpetuity). No one industry is ever “sustainable” as the free market has shown time after time. New solutions tend to constantly replace and refresh older methods and ideas. The car replaces the horse and buggy. (And as charming and “sustainable” as a horse and buggy may seem, the result of the latter is streets covered with horse manure.)

“Sustainability” is a word with such an open-ended meaning it can be of great use to the controlling classes and statist politicians. The good intentions of conservation, pollution reduction, and recycling is again an idea taken over by those who have a quite different agenda. That was true of the fraudulent “science” known as global warming. It will, and is, true of the pseudo-science of “sustainability” as well.

There is, of course, such a thing as replanting forests so that you have a somewhat “sustainable” source of timber. There is such thing as “sustainable” fishing harvest. There is such thing as a “sustainable” amount of Federal spending before the economy goes bust. But keep in mind that the very same people who are grossly burying us in unsustainable debt are the ones for whom the word “sustainability” has almost a religious-like connotation. Beware. Be skeptical. Freedom itself is not sustainable if we mindlessly acquiesce to every nice-sounding word. • (1964 views)

Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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14 Responses to “Sustainability” is Not Sustainable

  1. Monsieur Voltaire says:

    Sustainability is to green what social justice is to red: purposely vague terms with a fluid adaptability to reality–but whose core meaning always remains “…therefore, you need to do as we say.”

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      MV, you should see how corporations have fallen for all this “sustainability” stuff. It’s become a fetish. Really, a superstition. “Sustainability” is used like an incantation. Nobody really know what it means. But they’re sure it’s something they ought to do.

      I’ve sat in libtard restaurants that have proud plagues on the wall that announce to one and all that the wall paper they use is “good for the environment.” Good gracious this stuff is getting silly.

      One of the greatest untold stories is that it is quite likely that the Columbia disaster was entirely due to NASA changing to an “environmentally correct” glue for that insulating foam that came off and caused the accident.

  2. CCWriter CCWriter says:

    I was participating in a comment thread over on NRO about recycling, a related topic.

    One of the things that was being kicked around is whether recycling is really legitimate and a good idea. One of the things it got me thinking about is that the way the system is structured, based on government command and concealment of actual value and costs and pricing of materials and what goes into their production, it’s impossible for the average person to tell.

    If recycling had been allowed to grow up along free-market lines, it might work a whole lot better than it does now. Whatever was done would have to make sense because it would have to make financial sense. There would be ways (because price is information) for people to judge whether they wanted to participate in recycling this or that. Even the desire to be good stewards of the environment and send less to landfills could be factored in, because in the market you are allowed to want what you want whether or not anyone else shares your priorities–as long as you are willing to pony up some dollars and cents for it. And continual improvements and efficiencies in the collection and re-use of materials would be stimulated through competition. Even the tragedies of the commons (such as plastic bags in the water) would be more effectively dealt with, without creating other problems (such as, if plastic bags are outlawed, how do you keep poultry juice from dripping on your loaf of bread, and how do you pick up after your dog).

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      CC, I read something a while ago that said that your typical municipal recycling expends more energy than it saves. I don’t doubt that this could be true.

      And truth be told, I’m the recycling Nazi around where I am. I remember the liberal guy who had been renting down the hall. He’s a nice guy and we’re still friends. But he always stuck his bottles and cans in the trash when he knew that I had a separate recycling bin for those (I used to have a guy who would come by and pick up the aluminum with the proceeds going to his church).

      I’m constantly scratching my head at all the bottles and other trash that I find deep up in mountain trails. I don’t understand the logic of this. You carried the bottle in and now — lighter and emptied of its contents — you can’t carry it out? And it’s a near guaranteed that most of these people doing this are in the 20 − 30 year old range — yutes. And one would presume that they are the cream of the “Progressive”-indoctrinated environmental-type Hitler yutes. And yet you see discarded plastic water bottles all over the trails.

      I see this as a product of the collective morality (or just no morality) ingrained in them. As a business owner and property manager, I constantly have to pick up garbage in and around my business.

      We just never did this as kids. Oh, we certainly threw apple cores to this side of the road, and I still have no compunction against doing so. But not actual garbage. It was unthinkable. We just weren’t raised to be little savages.

      But kids are these days. They have an inflated “self esteem” which just tends to anoint whatever dumb-ass thing they do as “good.” As Dennis Prager has noted, and someone else noted on this site, American yutes consistent rank poorly in the academic subjects compared to other countries. But they consistently rank first in “self-esteem.” (Yes, there is some synergy in this regarding the Paulbots.)

      This is the kind of “nice” but not “good” dim-witted yutes that our “Progressive” culture is producing. I hope those who think I am little but a one-note curmudgeon understand that my dislike with the Left is built upon long experience with seeing just how vacant an ideology that it is.

      • CCWriter CCWriter says:

        When I was a kid, soda pop came in glass bottles. They were reusable. And the bottling companies wanted them back. So when you bought a 6- or 8-pack, the price at the grocery included a deposit, maybe a penny each or something like that. This was not required by the government, it was simply what the bottler and the grocer and you agreed to. You could return the bottles for a refund of the deposit. Or you could let some kid collect them in his little red wagon and bring them back to save you the labor and earn some money. They could pick up a nice bit of change finding discarded pop bottles too. It worked great. It’s a model that could still work.

        And by the way, when I was a kid, the automatic revulsion against throwing trash by the side of the road hadn’t taken hold yet. Parents would even tell their kids to throw candy bar wrappers out the car window. Remember 1951’s “The Day The Earth Stood Still”? The hero alien tosses away the dry-cleaning tag without a thought. It was considered normal behavior without a downside. Perhaps it was because disposable items were only beginning to proliferate. But then people started to recognize the resulting mess as a preventable problem. The “Don’t Be A Litter Bug” public service campaign was born. Trash cans were placed in public. And people internalized this idea into their sense of responsibility. It was a good thing and it worked. It wasn’t an imposition of Big Government and it wasn’t looked at that way. It was just accepted as a common-sense social adjustment, a little bit of progress that made us more civilized.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s right. Before these narcissistic environmental “save the planet” nitwits came along, we kids used to scour the highways looking for pop bottles to pick up so that we could collect the deposit.

          And I’m sure attituded regarding litter were different in different areas of the country. But it is a common-sense conservative principle that you don’t soil your own nest. As kids, we just didn’t magically view public property as any different form our neighbor’s property. That’s not how we were taught. And we certainly wouldn’t have dumped trash in our neighbor’s yard.

          So I think there’s something deeper going on. I realize that there have been many public relations campaigns against litter. But I would say that that was simply one of the first instances of the Church of Government replacing personal morals. That is, our morals started to become based on governmental proclamations.

          My parents were by no means perfect, but it doesn’t take a perfect parent to teach kids not to throw trash out the window. This is just common sense and common decency. If this sort of behavior requires some grand public service campaign, then that is simply a sign that parents aren’t doing their job of instilling even the most basic values into their children.

          I’m all for returning to collecting deposits on pop bottles. But I’m guessing that efficiencies in today’s manufacturing processes have made that a moot point. It’s probably just not worth it now to have to wash the bottle, check if for cracks, deal with the whole collection process, etc. But it was a fun time when we were kids to collect those deposits.

          • CCWriter CCWriter says:

            You would think that even with plastic bottles, marketers of the beverages would not want to have their brand name sullied by being seen on the ground in a public place, and so would want to offer at least some bounty for the return of the bottles to a collection point. Perhaps if one did it, the others would follow suit.

            My point about the parents and the trash is that if the parents weren’t brought up to think about it that way, they wouldn’t pass it on to their children unless they had their minds changed. Do you realize how personal hygiene standards have changed from a hundred years ago, and how the practices we take for granted now were sold to the public? Private industry did most of the heavy lifting, through advertising, which financed the new media of the time. Daytime dramas are known as “soap operas” for a reason. But some of the teaching happened in grade-school classrooms.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              I still scratch my head about all those plastic bottles on the sides of the road and trails. I actually was talking about this recently with a Microsoft bazillionaire who owns a huge tract of land locally.

              I’ve just never understood the mindset of “the world is my ashtray.” To me, this is just common sense. Or maybe it isn’t so common. Maybe we forget that somewhere along the chain that kids need to be taught by their parents how to behave decently. And I just don’t think this is something the government can do. In fact, I think it’s obvious that collectivist ethics make such matters worse.

              And I don’t know the history of personal hygiene and why methods and attitudes changed. That would make for an interesting story. Apparently even kings and queens of England of old would not bathe. There was some kind of idea that it wasn’t good for you.

              If true, that baffles the mind once again. Isn’t it common sense that it’s better to be clean than to be dirty? Didn’t people ever swim in lakes and streams and feel better afterward because they were clean?

              I guess it would be interesting to read a book that delved into such things. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

              • CCWriter CCWriter says:

                What I know of the development of personal hygiene in the 20th century I picked up here and there. I know that there were still many homes without indoor plumbing as late as WWII, and some without reliable hot water even after. I know that tooth brushing wasn’t the habit it is today (hence the former prevalence of dentures) and toothpaste is a recent development. Daily bathing had to be encouraged even after people had facilities that permitted it. The role of microbes in disease was not accepted even by all doctors around the turn of the century let alone the man in the street. Not everyone lived right by a lake or stream. Streets and alleys were dirty places. Laundry and housecleaning used to be a lot more labor-intensive, there weren’t a range of effective cleaning products on the market, and people couldn’t change their clothes as often as they do now (clothes were more expensive too, and people had fewer outfits). Deodorants weren’t always a standard thing. One reason I’ve heard why smoking caught on around WWI is it helped mask odors.

                I have collected a lot of consumer magazines from the 1920s through the 1960s, especially women’s magazines, and the ads really emphasized the social and health advantages of adopting all these modern hygienic practices, made them aspirational, i.e. being “dainty” and “fresh” and having clean clothes and a sanitary kitchen, and for the men, to be clean-shaven and have their hair neat. Sure, the various companies made a lot of money selling soap and appliances. They also made a lot of people feel and smell better and cut down on needless infections. They brought Americans up to a new set of standards so firmly that they are now taken for granted.

                Oh, and my point about the media: You can make a case that soap advertising paid for radio and mass-circulation magazines. And you can make a case that without these media, America would hardly have been able to pull together as one, set their sights on the ideals of freedom, and do what it took to win WWII. Soap beat fascism!

          • Kung Fu Zu says:

            Oh, the good old days. When I was a boy, my friends and I would walk along roads, picking up empty soda bottles. We would take these to 7-11 and use the deposit money to buy more sodas, marsh mellows, hot dogs and buns and have a weenie roast. Charred melted jumbo marsh mellows on the end of a coat hanger. Heaven.

  3. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Continuing this thread anew, CC said:

    The role of microbes in disease was not accepted even by all doctors around the turn of the century let alone the man in the street.

    Interesting. It’s certainly understandable that absent the understanding of the role of microbes in disease, you might not always fastidiously wash your hands before you eat.

    But I still can’t wrap my mind around human beings (then or now) who have no trouble being absolute stinking slobs. I believe soap was invented a long time ago. And running water is certainly not a new invention.

    But you read these stories — and you assume they are true — about table manners in, say, the Middle Ages and before (or perhaps after). Apparently one reason that left-handedness was looked down on (and I’m a left-hander) is that it commonly was the left hand that you wiped your butt with and the right one was for eating.

    So you can belch, fart, stink, and dunk your whole right hand, filled with bread, into the pot of porridge in the middle of the communal table and that was fine. But don’t dare dunk your left hand into the stew.

    Geez. I’m not a neat freak, although I tend to keep organized. But Im not uber-organized. I’ve seen organized — the kind who have pegboard on all three walls of their garage and a place for everything, and everything in its place — and I’m not one of those.

    But I’d like to think that I would wash the excrement off of my hands before eating, germ theory or no germ theory. But apparently it is just a human trait to be clueless about this stuff, or to just have an affinity for being a pig.

    I remember reading a book about Nostradamus. He’s best known for his predictions, but he also was a very effective physician in terms of treating plague victims. Apparently he had a remarkable rate of recovery and/or prevention simply by washing people and putting them in clean clothes. Oh, and giving them nutritious food to eat, such as rose-hips (vitamin C).

    Now, I’m not saying that Nostradamus wasn’t a brilliant man. Clearly he was. But why didn’t anyone else think of that before? I mean, if it is true that people commonly burned incense in their own homes just to mask body odor, couldn’t it have occurred to them that maybe, just maybe, being covered in filth wasn’t healthy?

    Well, if what you say is true, it would appear that consumer magazines went a long way toward cleaning up our act. And we certainly do know that books, in general, had an enormous impact on the spread of knowledge. So that’s interesting to learn that it took consumer magazines to teach people what seems to be the most basic common-sense things. The power of the media even back then? Is there not some impulse in people to think for themselves and to instead just be sheep?

    • Kung Fu Zu says:

      You have to understand that even the medical community had little idea of hygiene until the last 30-40 years of the 19th century.

      The first person to push disinfection was Ignaz Semmelweis who was basically the chief resident at the maternity ward of a hospital in Vienna.

      He noticed that the occurrence of death in two maternity wards differed significantly. The one ward in which interns delivered children had a mortality rate several times higher than the ward served by mid-wives. Looking into this, he noticed that many interns would go to the maternity ward after finishing a class in dissecting human cadavers. He determined that the interns brought some type of material with them from the dissecting class and that it needed to be removed somehow. He had them wash their hands with a solution of chlorinated lime as it removed the putrid smell best, and the mortality rate dropped immediately and went to zero in about three months. This was in the mid to late 1840’s.

      For his trouble he was mocked and eventually drubbed out of the university hospital by other doctors. He ended up dying in an asylum in 1865.

      He was ahead of both Pasteur and Lister.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Unbelievable. I mean, a certain amount of resistance to new ideas is understandable. But when you get those kinds of results? People’s egos tend to get the better of them.

        Then, like now, these types of people have absolutely no problem condemning others to suffering just as long as they can hold onto their cherished ideas. Basically I’m just regurgitating Sowell. But I mean, really. How petty can people be. It’s just astounding, Mr. Kung.

        • Kung Fu Zu says:

          I have a friend with a degree in chemistry who is in market development for various new drugs and treatments in Asia.

          He told me of a situation about thirty years ago when a new and much improved treatment for childhood leukemia was developed. I don’t recall the exact numbers but the success rate for this new protocol was something like 70-80% whereas the old protocol was about 20%. I believe the new protocol and treatment had been developed at St. Jude’s children’s hospital in Tennessee and was well proven.

          My friend approached the most well known pediatric physician in Hongkong who was famous for his treatment of childhood leukemia. He had obtained rates which were slightly better than the standard 20%.

          This doctor had been on a pedestal so long that he believed he was something of a savior to mankind. He had no interest in my friend’s protocol and basically told him that he had a lot of nerve trying to teach him, the doctor, anything about leukemia. He had no interest in the new protocol.

          Because of the protocol my friend was working with, childhood leukemia is no longer the death sentence it once was.

          And by the way, after rejecting the new protocol, the Hongkong doctor, was effectively murdering something like 3 or 4 children out of every 10 cases he handled.

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