Sustainable Development

  1. In 1987, the United Nations released the Brundtland Report, which defines sustainable development as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  2. Five Axioms of Sustainability quoted from Peak Everything by Richard Heinberg
    1. Tainter’s Axiom: Any Society that continues to use critical resources unsustainably will collapse. Critical resources are those essential to the maintenance of life and basic social functions, including water, food, and energy.
    2. Barlett’s Axiom: Population growth and/or growth in the rules of consumption of resources cannot be sustained. In a world of finite, non-renewable resources, consumption cause by increases rates or increased users will deplete that resource.
    3. To be sustainable, the use of RENEWABLE resources must proceed at a rate that is less than or equal to the rate of natural replenishment. Renewable resources can be exhausted such as forests or fish. The rate of replenishment should include not only normal species regeneration, but examination of disease factors that reduce replenishment. In which case, sustainability will also need to include further adjustment to compensate for reduced regeneration.
    4. To be sustainable, the use of non-renewable resources must proceed at a rate that is declining, and the rate of decline must be greater than or equal to the rate of depletion. If the rate of use is declining at a rate greater than or equal to this ratio of depletion, this can be said to be a sustainable situation in that society’s dependence on the resources will be reduced to insignificance before the resource is exhausted.
    5. Sustainability requires that substances introduced into the environment from human activities be minimized and rendered harmless to biosphere functions. In cases where pollution from the extinction and consumption of non-renewable resources that have proceeded at expanding rates for some time threatens the viability of ecosystems; reduction in the rates of extraction and consumption of these resources may need to occur at a rate greater than the rate of depletion.