Still finding stories about sustainability becoming a buzzword. From the Guardian:

The Centre for Policy Studies has published its 2009 lexicon of “contemporary newspeak” (ie irritating jargon) and it seems to have identified “sustainability” as the worst offender. In his preface, Bill Jamieson writes:

Few words have become more heavily used or abused in government or corporate affairs than “sustainable”. It now occupies a lofty position in the towering hierarchy of buzzwords. It is commonplace today to stick the word “sustainable” in front of almost anything, to talk of “sustainable development”, “sustainable transport”, “sustainable housing”, “sustainable communities” and so on.


I’ve been carping about this for a long time. Sustainable is any adjectival usage is always about the survival of whatever it is modifying. It does not have to be this way. Sustainability (a noun), in general terms, is the possibility that a complex system, like the Planet Earth, that we rely on to generate some desirable properly will continue to deliver it for a very long time. In today’s troubled world, I point to flourishing as the property that is threatened, even missing. Since sustainability always implies continuing something desirable into the future, it can never be more than a possibility. The mistake made with the financial system that has collapsed was that the operators and regulators believed that they could predict its future state within some probability. In truth, the system is technically complex for which type of system future states can never be predicted reliably. The expectation that they will be in a particular state tomorrow is always only a non-numeric possibility, not some numeric probability.

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