What is sustainability?

Today on the show, we had two of our most interesting guests on the show today. Typically, we have people who have a hopeful or optimistic view of sustainability, but today we had guests who come from energy economics. One of our guests, Dr. Andrew Kleit challenged us to think about sustainability. The term is loose. Sustaining what for what and for whom?

He said, "With technological progress, society gets richer. So given that, I'm not sure why I should be poorer today so that someone thirty years from now can be richer. It's like people saving thirty years ago so that we could be richer. I just don't think it makes a whole lot of sense." This creates a great set of questions for us. To get the whole scope of his answer, you can listen here. As you will hear, Dr. Kleit asks some pointed questions and makes some points about energy we don't typically hear on Sustainability Now.

What is being "rich"? Is richness defined by monetary accumulation and expenditure that move on rationalized markets? Is richness defined by life expectancy? Is it measured by happiness and meaning? Is richness measured in number of children you have? The amount of stuff you own?

What is "technological progress"? The Hummer is a piece of technological progress and so is the F-16 and so are hydroponics and so are greenhouses. Are all of those things equally progressive? By what measure?

What do you think about these questions? What is sustainability? What is progress? What does it mean to be rich?

1 comment:

  1. Today's show was quite good in an attempt to discover the benefits and problems with energy policy and electric deregulation in particular. However, the show failed to deal with many ethical issues that should be considered in energy policy such as do Americans have duties and responsibilities to people outside the US for its lack of commitment to reduce ghg emissions. The show gave the distinctimpression that energy policy outcomes need not be guided by regulations or policies that would reduce US ghg emissions. Don Brown