The Azimuth Project
Sustainability (Rev #7, changes)

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Sustainability is a subject which pertains broadly to life on Earth, and in fact to all living systems. Ultimately; survival itself is dependent upon sustainable activities which satisfy the immediate basic needs of living beings, while allowing them to provide for their future needs. Homeostasis is possible only when life is sustainable. Simply put, survival depends on sustainability.


Sustainable practices, in general, are activities that can be maintained such that they endure - and thus continue to function or serve their purpose - over time. Achieving sustainability often requires what Stephen Covey calls striking a balance between Production and Production Capability. This idea can be explained by contrasting the value of equipment usage and maintenance.

If a printing press is properly maintained, for example, it will function for many years. However, it generates revenue for its owners only when it is in use. When Production=Profits and Downtime=Lost Revenue in the mind of management folks, it is easy to see why sometimes long-term sustainability is sacrificed for short-term profits. However, a machine that is poorly-maintained long enough becomes unusable, at some point, and eventually un-repairable - so only sustainable practices allow it to remain an asset.

Sustainable resources includes assets and resources which can be maintained or replenished - if used in a way that enables or allows such maintenance and replenishment to exceed or precede usage. For example; replanting trees can make forests a renewable and sustainable source of timber, but past forest management must provide for current needs, if there is to be a ready supply. In addition, resources which whilst being used up will nevertheless last for a very, very long time are referred to as sustainable (e.g., incident solar radiation is said to be a sustainable resource as it will be millions of years before it becomes unusable).

Sustainability, in the context of environmental concerns, relates to the challenge to find ways to have long-term survival and prosperity for humans, through activities that are environmentally-sound or ecological. Historical strategies that are dependent on perpetual growth, or on having a large source of untapped resources waiting to be discovered, are of diminishing value. The planet is a finite resource, which we are swiftly using up, so those strategies will not work much longer.

Worse still; if we cling to exploitative practices and fail to maintain the health of the Earth’s natural environment, nature’s ability to provide a livable atmosphere or clean water will be adversely - and perhaps irreparably - impacted. This means that we must become smarter, or learn how to use our intelligence more wisely, in order to achieve the long-term survival of humanity. In the final analysis; sustainability is about our own survival, and about our dependency on nature, as we need a healthy natural environment in which to live.

Therefore sustainability is important for humans to continue living on planet Earth.

Also see


Covey, Stephen; P/PC Balance defined, from “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” pp. 52-62 - 1990

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