Sustainability and Regeneration

“The word sustainable is everywhere, but what does it actually mean? The literal meaning is “able to endure”. Sustainability therefore involves both a time scale and an object: Something sustained, for some length of time. Thinking about sustainability, then means thinking about change. This makes it clear that nothing sustains forever.

When we talk about sustainability, we’re usually talking about a way of living, a relationship between humans and the biosphere.”

“Our path to long-term sustainability is to stop growing and find balance: to pull back to a global consumption and population that the biosphere can sustain.  This will require a deep cultural shift, especially within affluent societies and minds. And if we don’t make this change, the biosphere will do it for us, for example through global warming-induced disease or famine.”

“We can take a step further and think in terms of regeneration rather than sustainability. Doing so neatly sidesteps the need for a time scale, and it embraces the concept of change.  Regeneration means bringing some part of the Earth, or some part of the human way of life, back into alignment with the biosphere.  Regeneration calls us to do more than merely sustain: it calls us to heal, and to make our lives expressions of love for all beings”

“What would a regenerative society look like in practice? For starters, it would respect the regeneration rate of every resource.  Its food systems would not depend on fossil fuels, and regions using groundwater would do so at a rate less than the aquifier’s regeneration rate.  Energy would be essentially limited to what we could glean from the sun and wind. Metals would be entirely recycled.  The population size would remain steady at the biopherically appropriate level, and economies wouldn’t depend on growth.  Huge swaths of land and ocean would be allowed to rewild.   Science and technology would continue to thrive but their focus would shift: science might be more interested in understanding the relationship between fungi and plants and might no longer concentrate capital for ever-larger atom smashers; technology might focus on doing more with less.

A regenerative society would necessarily be more just and equitable. Accumulating wealth would no longer be the main goal of life”

– Scientist and Climate Author Peter Kalmus
from his book, Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution