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"sustainable" means "barely staying ahead of death"

 
pollinator
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Location: Missouri Ozarks
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I agree with "regenerative" to be a better term than sustainable.
 
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Location: Englehart, Ontario, Canada
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M Troyka wrote:Look at China today.. practically over a billion people just in one country, and yet their standard of living has been steadily increasing since they decided to let in capitalists and begin moving from communism to business.



I think this is probably a bad example. Because their resources and labour have been vastly undervalued the rest of the world has been rushing to send money to China. China goes so far as to deliberately undervalue it's currency on the global stage so they remain attractive as a place to buy from. This is just a variant of the US printing money to support the banks during the housing collapse and is just as unsustainable. Their increase in living conditions also comes at the expense of other nations since they aren't even close to being self sufficient in food.

Paul C. your definition of sustainable "however unpleasantly" is subsistance. A sustainable good quality of life requires fewer people. As technologies evolve that population level will change or the quality of life will improve. However at some population level too many resources will be used and a population crash will result as evidenced by the Maya and Easter Islanders. Thus the idea that we are "always sustainable" is an error with many historical precedents.
 
pollinator
Posts: 371
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Max Kennedy wrote:

M Troyka wrote:Look at China today.. practically over a billion people just in one country, and yet their standard of living has been steadily increasing since they decided to let in capitalists and begin moving from communism to business.



I think this is probably a bad example. Because their resources and labour have been vastly undervalued the rest of the world has been rushing to send money to China. China goes so far as to deliberately undervalue it's currency on the global stage so they remain attractive as a place to buy from. This is just a variant of the US printing money to support the banks during the housing collapse and is just as unsustainable. Their increase in living conditions also comes at the expense of other nations since they aren't even close to being self sufficient in food.

Paul C. your definition of sustainable "however unpleasantly" is subsistance. A sustainable good quality of life requires fewer people. As technologies evolve that population level will change or the quality of life will improve. However at some population level too many resources will be used and a population crash will result as evidenced by the Maya and Easter Islanders. Thus the idea that we are "always sustainable" is an error with many historical precedents.



Fewer people or higher productivity, or innovations that allow us to use more readily available materials or less materials than we currently do.

You're right, China isn't exactly a great example. Chile or Estonia would be much better examples, but I wouldn't expect anyone to know what I'm talking about if I say "Chile" or "Estonia". Basically any country that anyone in the US has heard of is Fascist with a capital Fascist, so it's more a matter of choosing the least-bad option for explanatory purposes . Real standards of living in China have definitely improved since they became industrial, though, although they certainly aren't going to be the banking capital of the world any time soon (as much as they might prefer it) or the nicest place to live. Also, not every country has land that is well suited to agriculture; Hong Kong, for example, is built on a barren rock. Estonia, while they have been extremely successful in building wealth, is also dependent on their manufacturing industry. Self-sufficiency in food is not required as long as the price of food is allowed to freely float. Neither is really the case in China.
 
gardener
Posts: 856
Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Max Kennedy wrote:Paul C. your definition of sustainable "however unpleasantly" is subsistance. A sustainable good quality of life requires fewer people. As technologies evolve that population level will change or the quality of life will improve. However at some population level too many resources will be used and a population crash will result as evidenced by the Maya and Easter Islanders. Thus the idea that we are "always sustainable" is an error with many historical precedents.



I get it. My play with semantics and scale was intended to point to the importance of describing scale, uncertainty, quality of life, and population dynamics if you want to share some kind of analysis of 'sustainability'.

I post mainly because I dislike the implication that WE AS INDIVIDUALS can lay some claim to being sustainable through individual action -- though in the end perhaps it is a useful vanity.

'nuff said. back to the practice.
 
Posts: 96
Location: West Virginia/ Dominican Republic
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Sustainable as defined by academics is just barley living while elitist live in mansions using private jets.
But looking the Permaculture way, it is cycling everything we can to get s much as possible while maintaining the energy on our land as long as possible then I don't see it as barely surviving.
How many times can nutrients be reused before they are lost. You grow some corn to eat or feed to your chickens. Your waste goes into a composting toilet then out to fertilize your corn patch. The same can be said about the chicken manure. The corn stubble is chicken bedding, mulch or mushroom substrate. The mushrooms then are consumed by either you, animals or traded/sold to bring in another asset to the homestead.
The spent substrate is now garden soil to be sent back to the plot. The reality is sustainable is a way to live very high on the hog by making every output a resource and not allow it to become waste.
Plan the waste out of the equation and the lost resources are removed. Excess production is organic material so the return of surplus is adding to the fertility of the land for the future generation. Paying it forward is also fair share/ return of surplus.
 
Max Kennedy
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John, nutrients are only lost when our practices are bad, such as overapplication of urine creating an environment conducive to the formation of ammonia which is lost to the atmosphere. If cucled properly losses will be minimal and you can cycle it indefinitely. The "every waste a resource" concept is well known, Cradle to Cradle as an example.
 
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I found a need for a new word today, so created one. Thought I'd share, in the hope that it might catch on. Or otherwise be ripped apart and have a new one presented.

(Macrosustainable - adjective, pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability on a very large scale, with very little input, to support a large population

From:

Macro, adjective 1.very large in scale, scope, or capability.

sustainable, adjective 2. pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse.
)
 
Kim Annon.
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Woopsies, wrong thread. 'S what I get for having two open at a time.


So, market research. Step one: Will people actually want us here. Share the love if you would.

Survey:
http://kwiksurveys.com/s.asp?sid=92qb0xygfg7fijd264744
 
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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paul wheaton wrote:The word sustainable is used a lot these days, but it doesn't really fit what I want to do. 

In the broad spectrum of all the things that can happen, there is:

1)  fast death
10)  medium speed death
100) slow death
1000)  death that is really, really slow
1416)  sustainable - barely avoiding death, but no more
2000)  _________
10,000)  _______
100,000)  ________
1,000,000) ________

I would like to find the words for the blanks. 

Growth?  Prosperity?

Any ideas?  Surely there are some excellent words and they just aren't popping into my head right now.



Agreed that a sustainable population or system of anything is not necessarily operating at optimal health, I would choose words like these for further along the original continuum:

2000)  fertile
10,000)  flourishing
100,000)  prolific
1,000,000)  fecund
 
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