image missing
Date: 2024-05-24 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00021024

Sustainability
Little ... if anything ... is sustainable

Sustainability is Destroying the Planet ... Ono Mergen, an environmental scientist calls BS


Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

Original article: https://aninjusticemag.com/sustainability-is-destroying-the-planet-83687340f82b
Burgess COMMENTARY
It is slow and taking a long time, but there is a growing awareness that words like 'sustainability' have been gamed to mean what the writer/speaker wants it to mean. For conventional financial investors, sustainability means that profits will be sustained and stock value maintained or enhanced. For the climate activist community, sustainability means that global warming will stabilize and then that global temperaturces will decrease. There are huge differences between shat is sustainable in the short term or several months or quarters and what can be sustainable over decades into the future.
Peter Burgess
Sustainability is Destroying the Planet ... An environmental scientist calls BS

WRITTEN BY Ono Mergen

September 23rd, 2021

I wrote my first thesis on the eradication of PET waste with the help of circular economy principles. The near-complete eradication of single-use plastic is feasible and affordable. Yet a decade flew by, and we are not past baby steps and techno- optimistic daydreams about some new, flashy tech or planetary relocation saving us.

As I wrote that thesis buried in books for weeks, it struck me, that the term “sustainable development” made no sense.

It is an empty buzzword, nonsensical, and it is, in fact, an oxymoron.

Development shoots up on the axis of time, while sustainability strives to maintain a certain level. But let’s look at what development and sustainability mean.

What is development?

Development is growth, advancement, and improvement. But can we call anything an improvement if it puts in jeopardy the very foundation of its existence? No, we can’t.

Development can only mean an improvement of a system without destroying the resources it draws from. Therefore development can only be sustainable.
Development can only be sustainable.
We stopped developing a few decades ago. We are in a state of entropy.

What is sustainability?

At the most basic level, it just means maintaining something at a certain level. But we live as though we had several Earths to live off of.

Global environmental sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Today, the term “sustainability” has been exploited by big polluter companies’ commercial interests. Sustaining our current consumption levels, the current economic and social system will drive it to a sudden collapse.
Sustaining our current consumption levels, the current economic and social system will drive it to a sudden collapse.
Earth’s ecosystems are a lot like the human body. It can take a lot of abuse and not show much change or overwhelming symptoms of illness. But there is a point of no return, and the system collapses.

Earth Overshoot Day You have probably heard about Earth Overshoot Day. We reach it earlier and earlier every single year. This year was the most alarming of all, as it jumped back to 29 July from the 22 August in 2020.

We doubled down and made up for the lost time of emissions after lockdowns.


Astounding to see the Nordic countries reach their overshoot days in a staggering four months.

Denmark reached its overshoot day on the 26th of March. From this date onwards, Denmark is living on credit at the expense of future generations. If the world’s population had the same lifestyle as Danish citizens, the resources of four planets would be necessary to ensure its existence.

You can calculate your personal overshoot date here.

As an individual, we can only do so much. The system is not working, so we have to stop trying to sustain it.
The system is not working, so we have to stop trying to sustain it.
For example, I live a near zero-waste lifestyle, barely eat animal products, walk, bike, use electric car-sharing apps, hardly buy new clothes, and eat local, fresh food 90% of the time, but my overshoot day is on the 3rd of August. If everyone lived like me, we’d need 1.7 Earths. Sobering.


What is the solution, if not sustainability?

The current form of sustainability does not question existing systems of privilege and power. It strives to maintain something that stopped serving us a long time ago.

I would argue that global commerce brought us unprecedented peace in many parts of the world, but now it is time to take the next step and make reparations.

Regeneration and reparations

Regenerative practices and reparations go beyond sustainability by actively improving all conditions conducive to life. Many existing cultures we call primitive are regenerative. They were developed by studying living systems and collaborating with the ecosystems they inhabit and natural cycles. Western culture primarily works against the ecosystem, trying to force its will while extracting as much as possible.

With that said, many early cultures were perfectly capable of destruction and driving species towards extinction.

But we want to look at regenerative practices and build a regenerative global system. The time for green and sustainable practices is over.


We have to focus on rebuilding what was destroyed by our civilization and stop using sustainability as a way for brands to charge more for their products. Essential clothing items should not cost several hundred dollars and become unattainable to the average person.

In the ring of development, there are two players. Economic efficiency, profit optimization, economies of scale, production, and consumption are in one corner. On the other stand those who want to end the myopic irrationality of the so-called rational market.
Some use sustainability as a buzzword, as an excuse to maximize their profits while gatekeeping and maintaining current inequalities and unjust systems that got us where we are now in the first place.
But there is another player that profits from both sides. Some use sustainability as a buzzword, as an excuse to maximize their profits while gatekeeping and maintaining current inequalities and unjust systems that got us where we are now in the first place.
Inequality is not a distribution problem; it’s a participation problem.
The real inequality doesn’t lie in the unequal distribution of goods and wealth. Inequality is not a distribution problem; it’s a participation problem. Historically oppressed groups and young people have to become part of the conversation regarding our shared future to end our centuries-old myopia.

It’s time we call them out on their BS and work towards a systemic shift that will change everything.

Thank you for reading! For more stories like this, follow my account, and for millions of others, you can sign up to become a Medium Member!

You can also sign up for my newsletter below, so you get my stories straight into your inbox before everyone else!

An Injustice! ... A new intersectional publication, geared towards voices, values, and identities!
Open link: An Injustice!

Sign up for The Take on X ... By An Injustice! A weekly newsletter showcasing a rolling roster of our creative's take on some pressing issues! We name names in transparency. Take a look.

Ono Mergen ... Environmental scientist. Rethinking culture, future, equality, science, and climate change. 🌍 Sustainability, Branding 📧 For projects: ono@onoceans.com
SITE COUNT Amazing and shiny stats
Copyright © 2005-2021 Peter Burgess. All rights reserved. This material may only be used for limited low profit purposes: e.g. socio-enviro-economic performance analysis, education and training.