Green vs sustainable

18Mar11

I get a daily email from Inside Higher Ed

This caught my eye yesterday…‘Green is not sustainable’ especially the part about the difference between green and sustainable

“…“Green” is subjective. Being “green” is modifying your societally-defined default behaviors in the hope of being somewhat less destructive of the environment and the planet. “Green” means using slightly less energy, consuming slightly fewer resources, emitting slightly less greenhouse gas, polluting slightly less water or air or earth. Being “green” can be seen as fashionable or otherwise high-status, or it can be seen as taking personal responsibility for one’s impact on the planet.

“Sustainable” means just what it says. Something’s sustainable if it can continue. Forever. Being sustainable means not consuming resources that exist in finite quantities, and only using non-finite resources in quantities that can be regenerated in the time it takes to use them. Using fossil fuels (which, in human time-scales, don’t regenerate at all) at any level is not sustainable. Using biofuels faster than they regrow is not sustainable. (Indeed, perhaps the most common factor in the disappearance of prior civilizations is their overuse of what we now call biofuels.) Farming in ways that poison the earth or the water (neither of which regenerates, in practical terms) is not sustainable. At the same time, supporting a family by hunting and gathering is becoming unsustainable, due to environmental degradation (the good hunting and gathering lands are getting fewer and farther between). Living in a way that truly sustains the environment, in today’s North America, is practically impossible….” G Rendell

Peak oil anyone?

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One Response to “Green vs sustainable”

  1. 1 Alina Oprea


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