Scientific American’s Earth 3.0 takes a Letterman approach to science with “Top 10 Myths about Sustainability.” We begin with a lesson from kindergarten:
Myth 1: Nobody knows what sustainability really means.
That’s not even close to being true. By all accounts, the modern sense of the word entered the lexicon in 1987 with the publication of Our Common Future, by the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development (also known as the Brundtland commission after its chair, Norwegian diplomat Gro Harlem Brundtland). That report defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Or, in the words of countless kindergarten teachers, “Don’t take more than your share.”
Note that the definition says nothing about protecting the environment, even though the words “sustainable” and “sustainability” issue mostly from the mouths of environmentalists. That point leads to the second myth….