This Month's Top Commentators

  • Be the first to comment.

The Best Voter Lists Available

I’m Unsustainable; How About You?


Some days I think if I see and read the word “sustainable” one more time, I’m going to go into convulsions, throw up, and pass out. The word has become so ridiculous at this point you could substitute the word “rubbish” and get the same meaning. It has to be the most used and abused word that ever crossed civilized culture.

Where did this modern abuse of the word “sustainable” come from? According to Wikipedia, it came from the UN. (That’s funny. I thought you had to be a tinfoil hat whacko earth-hater to believe that.) The word sustainability is derived from the Latin sustinere (tenere, to hold; sus, up). Dictionaries provide more than 10 meanings for sustain, the main ones being to “maintain,” “support,” or “endure.”

However, since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth and this has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability as a part of the concept sustainable development, that of the Brundtland Commission of the United Nations on March 20, 1987: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

See, we’re not so crazy after all. Even Wikipedia agrees.

So the definition is something about “meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations to meet their own needs.” Boy, now there is a stretch. I read someone else the other day (can’t remember who exactly) mentioning that if the people of the 1800’s were worried about using whale oil for lanterns because some future generation might need that whale oil, we would still be in the dark. Extrapolating from there, if someone else in the future wants the land I live on, I should not build on this land for fear of disrupting some future use of it that I can’t predict. I dare not take down a tree for wood to build a house; some future unknown human being might want that tree. Or maybe some woodsie owl might live in that tree someday, so I’d better not even think about using it. This way, the land and the tree will endure forever. Right? Oh, wait. What if there is an earthquake or flood? Or the tree grows old and dies someday? Anyone thought of that? Even woodsie owl has a time limit.

I wonder if the American Indians thought that about buffalo hides. Heaven knows they killed off hundreds of thousands of the buffalo over centuries to sustain themselves. But maybe I shouldn’t bring up the American Indians because that would be a politically protected indigenous group and one must not deride anything about them or their past practices. Those tepees they lived in were made of animal hides. Guess they weren’t sustainable either.

According to the “sustainabilists” nothing humans do is “sustainable” in any way that makes human life worthy of living. Unless you are a “sustainabilist” and you are preaching about “sustainability” while riding your bicycle to the green building you work in, the one with the turf roof, solar panels and the windmill,” then you might be O.K. If you are that person, you have given yourself permission to live. After all, the “sustainabilist” knows how to downsize, do penance, and pretend his or her bicycle is made of cotton candy that will dissolve in the next rain. Oh, but even then, that might pollute the rivers, so I guess that wouldn’t work either. What really is “sustainable?”

Ownership of anything is not “sustainable” these days. You can’t own anything because it might interfere with the needs of future generations. Unless you are the government; then you can own anything and everything. That would qualify as “sustainable” because you know the government is definitely going to make sure future generations have their needs met. Sure, that’s the ticket to paradise.

Meanwhile, from the minute I was born I was destined to die, leaving room for future generations. Wait a minute. I thought “sustainable” meant something would endure… and endure… and endure some more. Hmmm … getting a bit confusing now. Guess that “sustainable” doesn’t apply to me. I’m definitely not “sustainable.” And neither are you.

Wonder if the wordsmiths will think of a new word to replace “sustainable” when they figure out the word they are using isn’t “sustainable” either. Bet they will. They always do!

I think I must be channeling Andy Rooney tonight…I suddenly thought this little essay sounded like him. Oh, I almost forgot, Andy Rooney isn’t here anymore either. Not “sustainable.” And here comes December 2012. Bet that won’t be “sustainable.” It will only last 31 days and we have to figure out what to do with January 2013.

I’ll be sure to turn out the lights before I go to bed to dream of … not sure what to dream of. Nothing I dream would be “sustainable” enough. Goodnight all!

Donate Now!We need your help! If you like PunditHouse, please consider donating to us. Even $5 a month can make a difference!

Short URL:

Comments are closed