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The global sustainability transition: it is more than changing light bulbs

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Author(s): Michael P. Weinstein | R. Eugene Turner | Carles Ibáñez

Journal: Sustainability : Science, Practice and Policy
ISSN 1548-7733

Volume: 9;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: sustainable development | rights of future generations | interdisciplinary research | technology | education | public policy

ABSTRACT
Current policies and norms to reconcile human demands for resources with the Earth’s ability to supply them have resulted in practices that mainly treat the symptoms of unsustainability rather than their underlying causes. Moreover, the increase in our knowledge about humankind’s role in ecosystems is not keeping pace with our understanding of the consequences of our actions, resulting in a deepening inability to address sustainability issues. The extreme complexity and intricate workings of the world require the expansion of our mental models in a systems-thinking framework if we are to realize a sustainable place for humans in it. The challenge of the emerging transdiscipline of sustainability science lies in developing specific tools and processes, including curriculum development and a new generation of systems models, to help us better understand complexity—uncertainty and surprise, scale, hierarchy, and feedback loops—and to educate a new generation of sustainability scientists to design better policies, to facilitate social learning, and to catalyze the technical, economic, social, political, and personal changes needed to create a sustainable world.
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