Bill McKibben on Rebranding "Sustainability"
In a Q&A at Scientific American, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, suggests we need a new word to define human progress: Q: If...
In a Q&A at Scientific American, Bill McKibben, the founder of 350.org, suggests we need a new word to define human progress:
Q: If "growth" should no longer be our mantra, then what should it be?A: We need stability. We need systems that don't rip apart. Durability needs to be our mantra. The term "sustainability" means essentially nothing to most people. "Maintenance" is not very flashy. "Maturity" would be the word we really want, but it's been stolen by the AARP. So durability is good; durability is a virtue.I totally agree with him that "growth"-as a word and a phenomenon-is not what we want. But I'm not sure there's a problem with "sustainability" as a mantra. When I think of something as being sustainable-whether it's a business, a product, or an ecosystem-I think that it exists in harmony with its surroundings and has a net energy cost, and a net resource cost, that's getting closer to zero."Durability," on the other hand, is the quality of being able to take a beating. This might be a good word for the kind of economy we want, but it doesn't work as well for environmental systems or products. We don't want a world full of durable species like the cockroach, and we don't want to make everything out of plastic, which is tragically durable.