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TT: Sharing the Planet
Concepts: Responsibility/ Sustainability

"Sustainability is the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse and productive over time, a necessary precondition for human well-being. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.
Healthy ecosystems and environments provide vital goods and services[clarification needed]. There are two major ways of managing human impact on ecosystem services. One approach isenvironmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from educated professionals in earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. Another approach is management of consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from educated professionals in economics.
Human sustainability interfaces with economics through the voluntary trade consequences of economic activity. Moving towards sustainability is also a social challenge that entails, among other factors, international and national law, urban planning and transport, local and individual lifestyles and ethical consumerism. Ways of living more sustainably can take many forms from controlling living conditions (e.g., ecovillages, eco-municipalities and sustainable cities), to reappraising work practices (e.g., using permaculture, green building, sustainable agriculture), or developing newtechnologies that reduce the consumption of resources." link

Sustainability explained through animation

Lexicon of Sustainability

Introducing ... The Lexicon of Sustainability from lexicon of sustainability on Vimeo.

Rethink | Sustainability

Visions of a Sustainable World

Buckminster Fuller Institute

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo.

2011 Buckminster Fuller Challenge Finalists from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo.

Welcome to the Anthropocene

From the Rings of Sustainability wiki:
We believe that educators need to think of sustainability as having four dimensions:

Personal sustainability Personal sustainability means that our children are healthy in mind and body. They communicate in their mother tongue, English, (another language if English is mother tongue), mathematics and through the arts. They need to have those joyous activities for their whole lives - their music, art, dance, sport, hobbies. Although we are of course concerned about our students' academic development, we equally value their emotional and spiritual development.

Urban / Technological sustainability Urban sustainability means that we have to be caring and aware of this environment that most of us live in. Our children know how our cities are supplied; how the waste is removed; what conventions and connections people need in to make in order to live peacefully in such close proximity to each other. Much of technology was developed to support cities and growing populations. What is the responsible use of technology? How does it impact on the other rings?

Socio-Cultural sustainbility Socio-Cultural sustainability means that our children are aware that different people have different and valid perspectives. They know about different religions and political stances and they need to be aware that politics and economics have a cultural basis.

Natural Sustainability Natural Sustainability is the foundation, the base on which all the other rings rest. Our students need to know about ecosystesm, biodiversity and develop the scientific skills to understand and critique the issues that they will be presented with throughout their lives

To move the planet from sustainability to thrivability, we need to think more than just envirionmental sustainability. I have lived in Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Vietnam. I have seen that unless people are personally sustainable, they cannot begin to think about the environment or living peacefully with their neighbours.


"Sustainable development is development that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."

As a new organization, Sustainable Sonoma County worked for about eighteen months to define sustainability and created the following three sentence definition:

"Sustainability secures people's quality of life within the means of nature in a way that is fair and equitable to all humanity, other species and to future generations. Sustainability recognizes the inter-relatedness of the economy, society, and environment. It requires that we not consume resources faster than they can be renewed nor produce wastes faster than they can be absorbed."

Then there is the two-word definition of sustainability proposed by Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, co-creator of the Ecological Footprint: "One Planet".

Below we offer some other definitions of sustainability. Each one reflects a different perspective and food for thought.

  • Sustainability is equity over time. As a value, it refers to giving equal weight in your decisions to the future as well as the present. You might think of it as extending the Golden Rule through time, so that you do unto future generations (as well as to your present fellow beings) as you would have them do unto you.
Robert Gilman, Director

Context Institute

  • Activities are sustainable when they:
  • 1. use materials in continuing cycles
  • 2. use continuously reliable sources of energy
  • 3. come mainly from the potentials of being human, i.e., communication, creativity, coordination, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development.
  • Activities are non-sustainable when they:
  • 1. require continual inputs of non-renewable resources,
  • 2. use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal
  • 3. cause cumulative degradation of the environment,
  • 4. require resources in quantities that could never be sustainable for all people,
  • 5. lead to the extinction of other life forms.
Guideposts for a Sustainable Future Project

M. Nickerson

  • Sustainability is part of a trend to...consider the whole instead of the specific. Sustainability emphasizes relationships rather than pieces in isolation...Sustainability is not all about regressing to primitive living conditions. It is about understanding our situation, and developing as communities in ways that are equitable, and make sense ecologically and economically.
Center for Sustainable Communities
  • Sustainable means being able to keep going or able to endure; sustainability, then, is acting in such a way that life on Earth endures on into the future, providing for the needs of all citizens and creatures while maintaining the natural functions, resources, and beauty of the planet...Sustainability is rooted in looking to the inherent workings of nature as a model, with the idea that the natural systems of the world do work in balance to perpetuate life, and by working in harmony with those natural systems, we can sustain our own lives.
Sustaining the Earth

Debra Dadd-Redalia

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Sustainability in the science curriculum: