So what is sustainability?

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” – Brundtland Commission, 1987.

The Brundtland Report helped achieve a global consensus that society, the economy and the environment are inextricably linked. This means that human well-being is fundamentally dependent on the health of our environment.

I have heard “sustainability” described as a “wicked problem”. That is because of its shear complexity, our current limited understanding of what has gone wrong and how we should go about fixing it, combined with and a high probability of never really knowing that the problem has been fixed. In addition, we are faced with a multitude of politically motivated so-called pundits, touting everything from a quick fix, to certain doom. It’s not hard to see how regular people with nine to five jobs are struggling to decipher what is the best course of action.

So what is the best course of action?

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein.

Well as I like to say, “that decision is way above my pay grade”. But what I do know is that no matter what. If we have tipped the balance of our environment through the unparalleled exploitation of our planet. Or if this is just a blip in time, that has us seeing higher than normal temperatures associated with it.

Debating whether we should do anything, is not the answer.

With these kinds of problems we often try to understand them by studying their individual parts, and we try to solve them in a checklist sort of manner. The reality is that systems this complex in nature consist of individual but interrelated parts, and they depend on the relationships among those parts as much as the parts themselves.

So until someone a lot smarter than me figures out exactly what needs to be done in totality. I think we need to attach ourselves to ideas that just make sense. That this point in time is the opportunity. The opportunity to take stock, to reevaluate how we live, and set a course for a future that has us living within our means, and not mortgaging our children’s futures.