Rethinking Sustainability to Meet the Climate Change Challenge, Forthcoming
17 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2015 Last revised: 25 Sep 2015
Date Written: June 17, 2015
The concept of sustainability is struggling for its survival. Critics have argued that the concept is outdated, hopelessly vague, and too dull a tool to be useful in the climate change era. This chapter considers definitional challenges to current sustainability programs, with an eye on saving the concept of sustainability. This chapter accepts the sincerity of the critiques, at least as to what they purport to show. The critiques are rigorous and expose significant problems in many of the applications of the sustainability concept. Nonetheless, this chapter takes issue with these critiques by identifying a more functional definition of sustainability — one that suggests but does not adopt ideals, one that manages but does not dictate policy responses, and one that relies on a specific but non-reductionist picture of nature. What sustainability adds to governance is a framework for managing change.
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