What is sustainability?

Home Forums Due September 17 by 11:59 pm What is sustainability?

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    Reading Solow’s paper definitely made me think very hard about what I believe sustainability is. Like he says, it’s a very vague concept, and I agree entirely with that. After thinking about it a bit, I guess I would say that sustainability is the policy of not depleting our reusable resources, and finding alternatives for nonrenewables. So in the case of oil, and limited minerals, finding alternatives such as renewable energy, and recycling precious minerals. I understand Solow’s definition, of substitutes, and guess that I would agree to an extent. In a way, using renewable energy instead of oil is just a substitute, isn’t it? So yes, I would agree that if AquaAdvantage salmon are a substitute for wild salmon that it would help support wild fisheries, and would fit in Solow’s definition of sustainable. However, there is still a desire to preserve nature for the intrinsic value of preserving for future generations to enjoy. Solow addresses this and I think he makes a good point that this value does not have to do with sustainability. The value of preserving nature is a separate thing of itself, that should be argued for by itself. Because from a sustainability point of view, does it really matter if we use up all of one species of fish, if it could be replaced by a different species? If we’re asking ourselves, will the future generations still be able to feed themselves? Then yes, they would be able to. However, wanting to preserve a species for the intrinsic value of preserving nature is different.

    I also really like the point Solow makes with worrying about the poor people of today. It is very easy to think about the future and wanting to sustain ourselves for the future, but what good is that if we have people living in poverty today? If we have children starving to death, or dying of preventable diseases? I do believe it should be a larger priority to help those in poverty today, rather than just focusing on the future. And Solow makes another good point – over population is a third world problem, and over population is something that will affect us all. If we were to start helping third world countries today, could that solve our problems of the future?

    Kortney Birch

    I like that you expanded on Solow’s idea that preserving the environment should be its own argument completely because it is true that people will find ways to feed themselves. I didn’t really consider how according to the definition of sustainability, it solely matters if a used up resource can be replaced and used for the same purpose. Even though this isn’t very ethical, I suppose it is the truth.

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