Monday, June 27, 2016

Sustainability Needs To Be More Than Just A Word

A Star letter-writer has an insight on sustainability well-worth sharing:
Re: Canada a model for sustainable forestry, Letter June 19

Reading the response to Thomas Walkom’s editorial from Forest Products Association of Canada and Ontario Forest Industries Association, I was once again encouraged by how much progress has been made reducing, reusing and recycling the language of environmental activism for corporate messaging.

Terms like green, environmentally friendly, and eco-everything were always so vague it is not surprising how easily they were co-opted by advertisers to hawk products that are nothing of the sort. But sustainability has a simple, clear, specific definition. Sustainability is the capacity to endure.

What apologists such as letter writers Derek Nighbor and Jamie Lim are peddling should properly be referred to as Sustainability(TM) as this term is also becoming nothing more than happy-sounding marketing for demonstrably unsustainable activities.

By the end of today, there will be fewer trees and less forest wilderness in Canada and on Earth. What remains of these complex ecosystems will be more fractured, less diverse, less resilient, less healthy.

Even if that were the whole of it, the destruction of these ecosystems – and, ultimately, the resources and services they provide – is simply not sustainable. And, of course, that is nowhere near the whole of it.

Among other impacts, the replanting that Nighbor and Lim laud, when it happens at all, is usually a genetic monoculture of non-native species, all at the same stage of growth. These are not regenerating forests. These are plantations; deserts of wood compared to the vital forest ecosystems they have supplanted.

By the end of today, there also will be fewer species, less water, less soil, more carbon in the atmosphere and oceans, and more persistent toxic pollution in everything – including our bodies. Nothing about our presence on Earth is currently sustainable.

I am often at a loss for words to describe the scale and pace of our pathological destruction of the natural world. I am compelled to fight against losing the meaning of the very word that describes the crisis.

What cannot endure, will not endure. Unsustainable activities will come to an end whether we like it or not. We should get actual sustainability before it gets us.
Kevin Farmer, Toronto
If you need further evidence of the havoc being wrought thanks to our collective heedlessness, look no further than this:


  1. Sustainability really captures the economic revolution which the planet requires, Lorne. Some folks will have a hard time getting their heads around the word.

    1. I think a lot of businesses love to pay lip service to the concept, Owen, and sadly their efforts stop there.