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Asked a question 9 months ago

Why is sustainability so confusing for consumers? What can we do to better understand it?

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Kent Harris
Legislative Affairs Specialist

“Sustainability” has become one of those warm, feel-good words like “diversity” and “excellence.” It’s a cipher, a blank slate…used to elicit emotions rather than logic and thoughtfulness. If people have trouble understanding it you can blame the “green lobby.”

Other than the obvious meaning of a resource that can be replaced, “sustainability” holds little meaning. Many (even most) people would regard any finite resource as “unsustainable,” but that assumes that its “finitude” can be known. In most instances, the limits of a resource are unknowable because the availability of a resource is an interactive by-product of 1) the nature of that resource and 2) human ingenuity. For example, we keep hearing about “peak petroleum” but decade after decade there seems to be plenty of the stuff…and it would be quite cheap now if not for Biden’s ruinous environmental policies (e.g., killing the Keystone Pipeline, which seriously inflated the futures market for oil and gas, sending prices at the pump much higher…and those higher prices will in turn be deceitfully used as evidence of “peak oil). Indeed, I would argue that resources usually thought of as “sustainable,” such as forests/trees, are only that way because of the interaction of human markets and biology…slow-growth/natural forests are NOT sustainable…wood monoculture (i.e., tree plantations) probably are, but we slowly lose species as the most marketable trees increasingly replace less marketable ones. Aquaculture (e.g., fish farming) is better because it reduces reliance on “the commons” (the oceans), but I’m sure there are critiques of even that.

So, if you want people to understand the term “sustainable,” it's incumbent on you to precisely define it. I submit that that’s the very last thing the climate-alarmists want, a clear definition much less any exacting scientific understanding on this topic (particularly if it doesn't support their “narrative,” which has replaced “truth” in our culture).