22 Ecological sustainability

Authored by: J. Baird Callicott

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Biodiversity

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138827738
eBook ISBN: 9781315530215
Adobe ISBN: 9781315530208


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Sustainability is most often associated implicitly with human economic activities or complex systems of human economic activities that are constrained by environmental limits – sustainable agriculture, for example. Here I critically examine two classic concepts of sustainability: sustainable yield and sustainable development. From the perspective of current environmental concerns – and especially concerns about the loss of biodiversity – both of these familiar and essentially economic ways of understanding sustainability are fatally flawed, short of a thorough conceptual overhaul. I introduce and commend a third way of understanding sustainability that I dub ecological sustainability. In passing, I also critique a recently developed alternative way of understanding sustainability proffered by Bryan G. Norton.

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