Chipping in with a few notes

Just a few words concerning both posting in the blog and my own comments on sustainability during the first lecture. Someone asked how to post articles on the blog; once you’re on the blog home page and logged in, just move your pointer to the upper left corner, on the wordpress logo, and a menu should open up. Just click on “New Post” and start writing!

I also thought to elaborate just a bit on the sustainability diagrams I hastily drew during the second part of Monday’s lecture. The two diagrams are sometimes called, respectively, weak sustainability and strong sustainability. Weak sustainability basically refers to an idea that manufactured capital can replace natural capital of equal value (there are some assumptions here, for example that some vital or otherwise important forms of natural capital shouldn’t be touched). I’m not sure if I entirely agree with equating the traditional sustainability diagram to the concept of weak sustainability as it can be interpreted differently. What I consider somewhat problematic, however, is that the traditional depiction allows for the natural environment and economic environment to be treated as equal, because they’re not. In order to be sustainable by definition, we need to operate within the boundaries allowed by the natural environment’s capability to support our activity in the long term – currently we do not, as is generally acknowledged. This is why I presented the alternative version.

Strong sustainability maintains that natural capital’s capabilities cannot be replaced or duplicated by manufactured capital, and it should thus ultimately take precedence over manufactured capital. I would say the alternative way of depicting sustainability is in line with this claim, as it places the natural environment as the basis on which social activity is built (the lines between social and economic activity can be blurry, depending on the perspective; as much was briefly mentioned in class, too). The notion of strong sustainability, along with the depiction, aims to ensure the line of thinking that follows the concept is actually sustainable, which is why I introduced it. Make what you will of this.

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Jukka

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