10 Successes of the Sustainability Movement to Date

November 4, 2015 at 11:13 am Leave a comment

The environmental movement had a lot to brag about. In a mere ten-year span in the 1960s and early 1970s, a relatively small community of student activists, along with crusading scientists, from Rachel Carson to Barry Commoner, managed to bring widespread attention to the need for greater environmental protection. The legislative successes flowed like kombucha at a farmers market. All the books and protests and far-out happenings actually resulted in real, tangible progress, which citizens in the United States and other parts of the world could chart over time, like marking a child’s height against the wall.

So what has the sustainability movement achieved? Sustainable development has been a buzzword in international politics since the mid-1980s, and a self-defined sustainability movement has been active since at least the early 90s. The idea of living within available biophysical limits, privileging wellbeing over growth, and running our society on renewables have all become hot-button topics for engaged citizens.

But where are the legislative acts to prove the influence? Why has the sustainability movement taken longer than the classic environmental movement to enact change? Perhaps its because those in the world of sustainability have set their aims too high. Or perhaps it’s because the problems addressed by the sustainability movement are more difficult to address. It’s one thing to protect scenic rivers, and quite another to end reliance on fossil fuels. Witness, for instance, the ongoing stalemate at the international level to reach a meaningful consensus on climate change abatement policy.

That said, what are some of the successes of the sustainability movement? What exactly can sustainists hang their hats on? Here’s my list, which draws on examples from the US and other parts of the developed world.

Read Jeremy L. Caradonna’s list of 10 Successes of the Sustainability Movement here.


Entry filed under: Economy, Energy, Renewables, Resilience.

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