Sustainable word play

It’s become the new political catchword — sustainability.

It’s become the new political catchword — sustainability. And like most catchwords, it’s being overused to the point that its meaning is becoming lost.

We’ve got environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, sustainable food systems, water sustainability, sustainable energy, sustainable education, sustainable health care… the list goes on. You can pretty much couple the word with anything to make it sound dire and drastic.

It’s used by the political left, the political right and everybody in between. A quick check of Google Trends shows its use in the media has skyrocketed since 2008.

Sustainability science has even become a new academic discipline for the 21st century. Google defines sustainability science as: “The cultivation, integration, and application of knowledge about Earth systems gained especially from the holistic and historical sciences (such as geology, ecology, climatology, oceanography) co-ordinated with knowledge about human interrelationships gained from the social sciences and humanities, in order to evaluate, mitigate, and minimize the consequences, regionally and worldwide, of human impacts on planetary systems and on societies across the globe and into the future — that is, in order that humans can be knowledgeable Earth stewards.”

That’s a mouthful and pretty much all encompassing.

It’s pretty obvious the way the world is heading environmentally and economically is unsustainable. And being that the large majority of people on this planet would like to see a better world for themselves and their children, it’s safe to say the masses are on board for a more sustainable future.

When we ponder our decisions for election day, it’s always wise to dig as deep as we can into a candidate’s platform. Throwing out catchwords like sustainability is easy; backing it up with ideas and actions that translate into real change for a better future is much more difficult.


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