Don’t Sustain; Advance

  • Kevin Finneran


Webster’s Dictionary defines boring as “an essay that begins with a definition from Webster’s Dictionary.” Not really, but it is a common way to begin an essay on sustainability because writers on the topic are like Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, who tells Alice, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” If we do turn to the dictionary, we find that the word “sustain” can mean to provide with relief, to nourish, to prolong, to support, to buoy up, to bear up, to confirm. All of these definitions imply a goal of preventing matters from getting worse. What is curiously missing is any hint of progress, innovation, or the creation of something better – and therein lies the problem with sustainability.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Finneran
    • 1
  1. 1.National Academy of SciencesWashingtonUSA

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