“For you readers who hate science and never read it, Ecology, A Pocket Guide excites your understanding and gently shows you what you have been missing. For the rest of us, this book confirms our love for and respect for scientific insight as a major way of knowing.”
It is significant to note that on the first pages of the book, we see that Ernest Callenbach wrote down his four "LAWS OF ECOLOGY" as follows:
EVERYTHING GOES SOMEWHERE.
THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH.
NATURE BATS LAST.
The definition of SUSTAINABILITY in Ernest Callenbach’s Ecology book is worthy of full quotation because it is a very honest, truthful, and genuine definition and explanation of sustainability. From his essay, many examples in our world can be analyzed quickly as to whether an activity is sustainable or unsustainable. In the scribed defintition of Sustainability, you will notice that there are highlighted terms with links to web pages, including GROWTH, POPULATION, ECOSYSTEM, YIELDS, and CYCLES, and VALUES. These web pages have not been completed as yet, so if you have an instant need to know what Ernest Callenbach said about VALUES, you will simply need to find a copy of his book, ECOLOGY. At this time, only the defintion of SUSTAINABILITY by Ernest Callenbach, which I support, is provided below.
From a rigorous ecological point of view, an ECOSYSTEM operates sustainably if its inputs and outputs (of both energy and materials) are balanced; over time it is not losing substantial amounts of nutrients. Such a situation can be described as dynamic equilibrium or a “steady state,” although there are always fluctuations at work.
None of our current basic foods- and goods-producing systems meet these sustainability criteria. With the aid of oil-based energy, we take unsustainable amounts of nutrients from our agriculture and unbalance the SOIL'S life forms by massive applications of chemicals. We catch unsustainable YIELDS of fish from the seas; giant trawler rigs scrape from the sea bottom the plants and small organisms that support fish. We clear-cut forests that will not regrow into sustainable ecosystems for hundreds of years, if ever. These processes are called extractive, since they remove resources from their natural CYCLES. Such practices are now bringing diminished returns and nearing their end, because the biological reservoirs they have been exploiting are becoming exhausted.
We humans are organisms who can think. We should not have to wait for disasters to teach us how to live sustainably. We can envisage a future world that is sustainable in the rigorous sense, and which therefore could offer a long-term future of hope and well-being for humanity. Such a world could have vigorous and dynamically changing economy,with some companies and industries growing while others decline. But the overall throughputs of the economy - the amounts of steel, concrete, food, energy, and so on, that are used - would have to be lower than at present. This goal can be met by clustering industries so that the wastes of one become the raw materials of others, with zero emissions into the surroundings - thus mimicking natural ecosystems.
A sustainable future would also require a steady or declining rather than growing human population, much smaller than today's unless the average level consumption were far lower. It would require reliance on renewable energy such as solar, wind, and tidal power, and burnable alcohol made from plants. It would use renewable materials such as wood and adobe and totally recycled paper, metals, and plastics. Like many past societies, a sustainable society would probably value the satisfactions of religion, community, sexuality, thought, creativity, and participative arts more than the mere consumption of goods.
Even now, many Americans are attempting to reshape their lives toward more sustainable "simple living," adopting new VALUES. Unless the ideal of sustainability displaces the goal of growth, we face a grim future of exhausted resources, growing poverty, increased conflicts, and spreading violence. If humans are to have a future worthy of the intelligent, ingenious, and playful species that we are, we must reorient our priorities from the economic to the ecological. This will undoubtedly mean a long political struggle. But in the long run, nature will enforce the basic rules of sustainability; she does not accept excuses.
Sustainability is important. We must give up buying new automobiles. If we need a new car, buy a used car and repair it. Purchase a used bicycle, get it repaired, or ride a bus, carpool, or use elevated, above ground light-rail, not a subway. By the way, only use an automobile that is electrical or runs on bio-fuel made from non-fossilized plants.
Eat organic, so no pesticides and no chemicals are applied to the living vibrant soils of our Earth. Eat vegetarian. Do not eat seafood.
Do not use paper products unless recycled, including recycled toilet paper which can be purchased inexpensively at your local Trader Joes Store.
Do not purchase a new computer, instead use a public computer at a library, or ask that your apartment establish a communal computer room. Or use a computer at a local coffee house, and insist that Starbucks have computer stations and terminals. Buy only a recycled computer, and have it repaired. A faster computer is not a better computer because it harms the environment of our precious Earth.