American Elephants

“Sustainable Development” Isn’t Sustainable. It’s Just a Buzz Word. by The Elephant's Child

Of all the words devised to deceive us, the most recent buzzword, is “sustainable.” Usually used in reference to the environment as “sustainable development,” sustainable fisheries, sustainable forest management, sustainable land management, sustainable living, sustainable yield — and as you should gather from that list, it is complete nonsense.

We have some ideas about that which is unsustainable, for we know the estimated life cycle of some things.  We know, for example, about how long each different kind of roofing material will last. People base their purchasing decisions on manufacturers warranties. But after a certain number of years, the unsustainable will probably break down. We can make sensible estimates based on past experience.

But we don’t know the future.  Prognosticators don’t even do well with their predictions for the coming year.  Great plans are  laid out, and events make mincemeat of them.  Businessmen lay out strategies for the future, and the bankruptcy courts are littered with their corporate bones. The future is unpredictable. Consider the Japanese Tsunami, Arab Spring, the Deepwater-Horizon disaster, and the surprises you have had in your own life. Surprise is the nature of things, not predictability.

The “sustainable” people are usually the greenest of earnest environmentalists. They believe that nasty, dirty petroleum  is unsustainable — “peak oil” is just around the corner, the same corner it’s been just around for years. They believe in “the limits to growth,”and the population bomb.  They see an Earth in deep decline because it is not behaving as they would have it behave.  They believe that because wind and solar energy are free, and “natural” that they are “sustainable”, and that “sustainable development” will depend on these free sources. Wikipedia says:

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.

They believe that the United Nations in conjunction with the world’s NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) is more suited to run things and make everything fair and equal.  Ordinary worker people will live in high-rise cities, the intelligentsia will live in the more rural areas outside the cities, and the area between the cities will be returned, as it should be, to wilderness, where other species can be sustainable. What they have in mind for the developed word is “De-growth,” which may be what we are currently experiencing.

The proponents of  de-growth reckon that the term of sustainable development is an oxymoron. According to them, on a planet where 20% of the population consumes 80% of the natural resources, a sustainable development cannot be possible for this 20%: “According to the origin of the concept of sustainable development, a development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, the right term for the developed countries should be a sustainable de-growth”.

The Wikipedia article is long and meandering and full of far-left looniness. It has often been explained that ardent communists migrated to the environmental movement when the Soviet Union collapsed. That’s why they call them “watermelons” — green on the outside, red on the inside.  They particularly enjoy large meetings in the world’s resort places, fancy hotels, delightful food and service all paid for by their governments.  That’s not sustainable either.


2 Comments so far
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You’re absolutely right. I went to a conference on “latino new urbanism” which is another buzzword for sustainable development. It was insane – they were actually pushing anti-assimilation. That is, latinos are used to living in tiny spaces, without cars, on terrible public transport. Instead of getting them used to American way of life when they come here, we should force Americans to live more like they do! It was ridiculous. It’s all a smokescreen to trick Americans into taking on the accoutrements of liberalism – no children, renting, not ownership, living as little as possible.


Comment by el SOOPer (@SooperMexican)

Oh yes. Do read the Wikipedia entry linked to. Wikipedia is a very lefty-enviro resource, but the concepts are revealing. It is a power play, designed to put the rest of us in our proper places, and leave the management to them.


Comment by The Elephant's Child

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