Sustainability: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives

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The concept of sustainability is inherently multi-disciplinary because it concerns a complex system having economic, technological, ecological, political, and other perspectives. Consequently, any ...
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Principles of Sustainability From Ecology

Pp. 9-39 (31)

Audrey L. Mayer

Abstract

Most sustainability principles can be broadly described under four themes: resilience, desirability, intergenerational (temporal) equity, and intragenerational (spatial) equity. While the field of ecology does contribute much of what we generally know about the environmental dimension of sustainability, many subfields, hypotheses, and theoretical frameworks have influenced sustainability science, policy and assessment. In particular, ecology has emphasized: the critical need for understanding how dynamic complex systems evolve resilience to, and are governed by, disturbances; the spatial and temporal scales at which we discuss and seek to achieve sustainability, and the effect of systematic connectivity at multiple scales on our ability to reach sustainability goals. The importance of diverse, functioning ecosystems to many vital processes, including nutrient cycling, water purification, flood regulation, biomass production, and many others, influences the goods and services that societies require; these are the resources that will most likely be needed for many future generations.

Keywords:

Resilience, Desirability, Intergenerational equity, Temporal equity, Intragenerational equity, Spatial equity, Ecology, Complex systems, Ecosystem goods and services, Self-organization, Diversity, Biotic homogenization

Affiliation:

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science and Department of Social Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, Michigan, USA