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Monday, June 21, 2010

I gotta get this off of my chest

Just as the title says I have to "b" about something that has been bothering me for the last couple of years.


Sustainability.  Sustainability this.  Sustainability that.  Sustainable energy. Sustainable economy.  Sustainable culture.  Sustainable crap in my pants.

There is no such thing.

So let me put on my mortar board and fancy colorful cord, and robes (yes I wear no pants under them.)

Dr. Troy  PHdink is in the office.

Sustainability-according to merriam -webster dictionary

Main Entry: sus·tain·able 
Pronunciation: \sə-ˈstā-nə-bəl\
Function: adjective
Date: circa 1727
1 : capable of being sustained
2 a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged  b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods 
— sus·tain·abil·i·ty  \-ˌstā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun
— sus·tain·ably  \-ˈstā-nə-blē\ adverb

As you can see the very definition has to do with human concepts and human creations.  We have derived a word that has no natural context, yet insists on basing its philosophy in the world around us-the natural world.

Lets break it down a little.  Sustainability comes from the combination of 2 words.  "Sustain" and "ability"

Sustain is to "prolong: lengthen or extend in duration or space"  from web definitions. (not a cialis ad)
Ability is "the quality of being able to perform" also from web definitions.  (also not a cialis ad)

 Sustainability is, thus, the lengthening of performance.  Dare we say... it is to continue the status quo.

Of course the stated status quo is often thought to be a time of "good".

Now what is the problem with this?

NOW FOR ONE OF MY PATENTED LEARNING LISTS (this is a copywrited term!)
1.  The assumption that we are in a time of good to sustain.  Of course people's definition of what should be sustained varies greatly, so who gets to say what should be sustainable.  I would also like to add that as of yet we have not reached any point that would/should be deemed worthy of sustaining.  
2.  It assumes no change for the negative.  But to be truly sustainable there must be no change for the good either.  This is very Aristotlean in its view but if you change what is being "sustained" then by its very nature it cannot be sustainable.  So the question is "when do we get to sustainable?"  It can only be a perfect system.
3.  It assumes that nature (the very world, resources, ecology, etc. that we seek to sustain), has in it a perfect system that suits our concepts of goodness.  Now the more religious among you may cite heaven as a perfect system.  That may be so, but it is not part of this world-at least not yet.
4.  Nature does not have the ability to lengthen the performance of any system!!!!  The first and second laws of thermo dynamics state that the universe is always seeking a stable point of no energy.  This means that the universe is also seeking a sustainable system-a point in which nothing takes place.  Last I checked this is a pretty lazy endeavor.  But then again perhaps the sustainable crowd is also part of this.

Part B.
1.  Sustainabilists (my term) are those that seek a system in which no change occurs.   This is an entropic system.  It requires no perceived work on their part to continue once it is achieved, yet seems to allow them to reap the benefits for an indefinite period of time.  The ulitmate communism.
2.  While this is all fine and dandy, the remaining laws of thermodynamics indicate that such a system is impossible.  If you are to reap the benefits of a system you must be part of it.  By the very nature of trying to reap the benefits you are negating the entropy.  It is like looking at the cat in the box.  

In Conclusion-
Sustainability is effectively impossible.  Both scientifically and socially.  It requires a closed entropic system, it cannot be therefor applied as a model to anything people have created or wish to define as by the very action of trying to achieve a sustainable system you stop the sustainability.

Plus it is the lazy way out.  The world changes around us.  Constantly and continuously because it is not a sustainable world.  The energy in the world shifts.  It moves and creates high and low parts.  It is not our job to change this by slowing it down but instead to learn to cope and even perhaps gather enough wisdom to provide some direction to the change.  We need to quickly abandon this philosophy as it is detrimental to us, preaches an ideological laziness and is inherently impossible.  

There-that feels better.  


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