Sunday, May 1, 2011

"What's in a word?" Guest Post by Lola Blevins

By Lola Blevins
This seems to be a loaded word these days, especially in Amador County.

The dictionary definition is simply this:
Able to be maintained.

There are other definitions as well. I’m a member of the American Tree Farm Association, and they have standards for sustainability. The standards include items such as this:
Reforestation or afforestation must be achieved by a suitable process that ensures adequate stocking levels.

The wording is a little more complex, but the meaning is similar: Able to be maintained.
There are extreme environmentalists who believe that sustainability means “must not change”. That may be their goal, but it isn’t sustainability. That’s stagnation.

There are extreme political groups who believe that sustainability is a type of socialist plot reducing the word sustainable to a “trick” or “code” word. There may in fact be socialists plotting something somewhere in the world, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t though forest maintenance in Amador County. That’s paranoia.

Can we agree on the simple definition of sustainability and let extremists on either side duke it out? Can we find a middle path where sustainability as a word and as a concept can become a power for us to work together instead of a word and concept that divides us?


  1. Katherine EvattMay 1, 2011 at 9:30 PM

    We have a choice: Use up the world's resources at a rate that robs future generations, or carefully protect, use and replenish our natural bounty at a rate that ensures future generations can continue to benefit from it. That's the core choice of sustainability.

    I have to add that I don't know any environmental groups that advocate for a static state with no change. That may be some folks' perception, but I'm not seeing it. Anyone who know anything about ecology knows that natural systems are all about disturbance, change and adaptation.

    I attended a two-day forest conference last week. Environmentalists who in the past have been forced to use litigation to get the US Forest Service to comply with federal law were extolling the benefits of collaboration. Sawmill owners were talking about how having enviros reach out to them was working to their benefit.

    It's easy to say that there are radicals on both sides. But that doesn't mean it's true.

  2. I actually responded to this comment, but don't see it here so I'll re-post now. I believe, Katherine, that you hit the spot when you say, "That may be some folk's perception". Perception, interpretation, is all of what this blog is about. And unfortunately, yes, in the past I did know of a group that performed "radical" unwarranted action in the name of environmentalism. So my perception is that it may be still out there. And of course, "truth" is never absolute, that's a premise of Science. Our truth is what we observe and what we know based on what we believe which is a psychological construct so way open to individual interpretation. Now this is my truth on why communication can be so difficult especially when people hold such divergent beliefs on the definition of truth. And of course, I'm on your side as you state about Sustainability and protecting the environment!

  3. I'm not sure why it didn't publish you're reply, Lola. It makes me worry there are others who have tried to comment but couldn't. Hopefully it is working now but I will go over the settings and coding to see if something is wrong and pray it doesn't happen again.