What is sustainability?
Sustainability is about being able to provide all the services a community needs, not just today but for every day in the future without the risk of running out.
Most Australians, like people in Western Europe, North America and parts of Asia, enjoy a lifestyle that uses lots of energy and water, and that generates a lot of pollution and waste.
Around the world, as countries develop and become wealthier, other people also want to enjoy a similar lifestyle, using more and more energy and water and buying more and more products.
To maintain this level of lifestyle we have to take more and more from the Earth. More coal to generate electricity; more oil to fuel our cars, trucks, ships and planes; and more water for industry, for drinking, cleaning, filling swimming pools and watering gardens.
We also generate pollution and waste that must be stored or treated so that it doesn't cause damage to our environment and to us.
- Will the Earth's resources run out if we continue to maintain and improve our lifestyles?
- Will we be able to meet the needs of future generations as well as our own?
- Can we manage to recycle, reuse and treat our waste products to preserve the world's environment and ecosystems for the future welfare of our children and the animals, and other organisms that share the world with us?
- Can we reduce or even eliminate the level of pollution (environmental damage) we create while maintaining and increasing our use of energy sources and water around the world?
These are some of the central questions in sustainability.