The End of Sustainability

Society and Natural Resources, 1-6, 2014, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2014.901467

University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 83

Posted: 8 Jun 2014 Last revised: 30 Aug 2016

See all articles by Melinda Morgan

Melinda Morgan

Geography & Environmental Studies

Robin Kundis Craig

USC Gould School of Law

Date Written: May 7, 2014

Abstract

It is time to move past the concept of sustainability. The realities of the Anthropocene warrant this conclusion. They include unprecedented and irreversible rates of human induced biodiversity loss, exponential increases in per-capita resource consumption, and global climate change. These factors combine to create an increasing likelihood of rapid, nonlinear, social and ecological regime changes. The recent failure of the Rio 20 provides an opportunity to collectively reexamine — and ultimately move past — the concept of sustainability as an environmental goal. We must face the impossibility of defining — let alone pursuing — a goal of ‘‘sustainability’’ in a world characterized by such extreme complexity, radical uncertainty and lack of stationarity. After briefly examining sustainability’s failure, we propose resilience thinking as one possible new orientation and point to the challenges associated with translating resilience theory into policy application.

Keywords: Anthropocene, resilience, sustainability

Suggested Citation

Morgan, Melinda and Craig, Robin Kundis, The End of Sustainability (May 7, 2014). Society and Natural Resources, 1-6, 2014, DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2014.901467, University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 83, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2447118

Melinda Morgan (Contact Author)

Geography & Environmental Studies

Albuquerque, NM 87131-1221
United States

Robin Kundis Craig

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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