I define sustainability.
I think people over-complicate the definition on sustainability, which confuses and drives people away from adopting sustainable practices in their life, business and community. I shall use the example of the human body to present three rules that define sustainability.
The human body is a machine that requires energy to work. The human body is an energy system, and sustainability focuses upon providing the body with enough energy to work such as being able to breath and pump blood around the body.
Sustainability follows three basic rules:
1. Availability: there is sufficient available energy to achieve a purpose, design or function.
There is a basic level of energy the body requires each day for life, if this energy is unavailable the result is sickness and death. The human body needs energy at all times to power the heart muscles to pump blood around the body. Inadequate available energy means the body will go into crisis energy management: burning off muscle; collapsing the metabolic rate; redirecting all available resources to core life support processes.
2. Flow: energy must have unobstructed flow throughout the system.
If you block the flow of oxygen or blood from any part of the human body, that part will sicken and die. The body is in constant motion, for instance the heart is pumping blood every minute of life, disruption of this motion will have dire consequences for health.
3. Renewal: the energy system needs constant renewal of energy.
The human body uses up energy as it works, losing this energy as heat. The human body needs a constant source of food, and be able to process this food into a viable source of energy for work. Lock a human in a room with no food, over time they will sicken and die.
Sustainability is easy to understand, follow the three basic rules and you are being sustainable. The three rules are applicable to any energy system from the human body, to ecosystem, to community, to business. Sustainability leads to prosperity which is health, happiness and abundance. The reverse of sustainability is a wasteland of sickness, despair and poverty.
Nature consists of a network of energy systems, which require energy to function. Sustainability might include offensive energy strategies which obtain energy, or defensive strategies that include energy conservation, efficiency and energy recycling.
The current human worldview, its paradigm, includes: consuming more energy than what is available in an energy system; blocking the flow of energy through obsession with control; undermining or paralysing energy renewal systems; and suicidally, even wiping out the pools of available energy, for instance poisoning water aquifers through fracking. Predictability, as in the human body example, there is only one outcome from unsustainable treatment of energy systems, sickness then death.