The word sustainable is essentially meaningless. Of course the phrase “environmentally sustainable” means something, and it’s an important phrase. That is, we certainly need to do far more to combat climate change and other pollution related problems. But the word sustainable is nearly always used ON ITS OWN, and in circumstances where it is far from obvious what any environmental implications might be. I.e. the word is normally used to pad and/or do a bit of virtue signalling.
But the fact that the word is as good as meaningless does not stop hundreds of academics and similar repeating the word ad nausiam. Another reason they repeat it over and over is because it’s FASHIONABLE.
In contrast, there are blogs authored by high quality academics (I’d cite for example Simon Wren-Lewis and Frances Coppola) who scarcely ever use the word.
Fashion fools a large majority of the population. If it was fashionable to march up and down the street, one arm raised at fourty five degrees, and chanting “Sieg Heil”, then about 95% of the population would be happy to do just that. As Edmund Burke said, “Custom reconciles us to everything.”
So who ever said anything should be “unsustainable”?
One absurd aspect of the word is that no one in their right minds advocates anything that is UNSUSTAINABLE in the sense that it is likely to collapse in pile of rubble shortly after being set up or constructed. For example does anyone advocate the construction of traditional brick built houses that collapse after three years?
Does anyone advocate the manufacture of cars with no rust proofing?
Shock horror: we’re surrounded by “unsustainable” stuff.
And finally I have some utterly DISASTROUS news for the zombies who keep repeating the word sustaionable: we’re surrounded by things that are not sustainable. Human beings are not sustainable in that they die approximately eighty years after being born. Cars only last about fifteen years. Houses last roughly a hundred years on average.
If you want to spot an academic, journalist or economics think tank wonk who has no worthwhile ideas, but is desperate to make it look like he or she is doing something, just see if the individual concerned uses the word sustainable in the title of their work or in the introductory paragraph.