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A comic demonstrating the principle of the tragedy of the commons
Tragedy of Commons The tragedy of the commons is evident in many areas of our lives, particularly in the environment. The over-fishing of our oceans that causes some marine life to be in danger of extinction is a good example. Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Precautionary principle

The precautionary principle    is likewise central to sustainability ethics. The margins of uncertainty are large across many fields of the biophysical sciences. Simply put, there is a great deal we do not know about the specific impacts of human activities on the natural resources of land, air, and water. In general, however, though we might not have known where the specific thresholds of resilience lie in a given system—say in the sardine population of California’s coastal waters—the vulnerability of ecosystems to human resource extraction is a constant lesson of environmental history. A prosperous and vital economic engine, the Californian sardine fishery collapsed suddenly in the 1940s due to overfishing. The precautionary principle underlying sustainability dictates that in the face of high risk or insufficient data, the priority should lie with ecosystem preservation rather than on industrial development and market growth.

Great Fish Market by Jan Brueghel
Great Fish Market by Jan Brueghel Though we might not have known where the specific thresholds of resilience lie in a given system—say in the sardine population of California’s coastal waters—the vulnerability of ecosystems to human resource extraction is a constant lesson of environmental history. Source: Public Domain

Sustainability, in instances such as these, is not a sexy concept. It’s a hard sell. It is a philosophy of limits in a world governed by dreams of infinite growth and possibility. Sustainability dictates that we are constrained by earth’s resources as to the society and lifestyle we can have. On the other hand, sustainability is a wonderful, inspiring concept, a quintessentially human idea. The experience of our own limits need not be negative. In fact, what more primitive and real encounter between ourselves and the world than to feel our essential dependence on the biospheric elements that surround us, that embeddedness with the air, the light, the warmth or chill on our skins, and the stuff of earth we eat or buy to propel ourselves over immense distances at speed unimaginable to the vast armies of humanity who came before us.

Sustainability studies is driven by an ethics of the future. The word itself, sustainability, points to proofs that can only be projected forward in time. To be sustainable is, by definition, to be attentive to what is to come. So sustainability requires imagination, but sustainability studies is also a profoundly historical mode, committed to reconstruction of the long, nonlinear evolutions of our dominant extractivist and instrumentalist views of the natural world, and of the “mind-forg’d manacles” of usage and ideology that continue to limit our ecological understanding and inhibit mainstream acceptance of the sustainability imperative.

Sustainability studies thus assumes the complex character of its subject, multiscalar in time and space, and dynamically agile and adaptive in its modes. Sustainability teaches that the environment is not a sideshow, or a scenic backdrop to our lives. A few more or less species. A beautiful mountain range here or there. Our relation to our natural resources is the key to our survival. That’s why it’s called “sustainability.” It’s the grounds of possibility for everything else. Unsustainability, conversely, means human possibilities and quality of life increasingly taken away from us and the generations to come.

Review questions

What does it mean to say that global environmental problems such as climate change and ocean acidification represent a “tragedy of the commons?” How are global solutions to be tied to local transitions toward a sustainable society?

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How does sustainability imply an “ethics of the future?” And in what ways does sustainability ethics both borrow and diverge from the principles that drove the major progressive social movements of the 20 th century?

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Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
How can I make nanorobot?
Lily
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
NANO
how can I make nanorobot?
Lily
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
s.
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
Tarell
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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