Sustainable Resource Management: Reality or Illusion? Introduction and Summary

By Nemetz, Peter N. | Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis, Annual 2002 | Go to article overview

Sustainable Resource Management: Reality or Illusion? Introduction and Summary


Nemetz, Peter N., Journal of Business Administration and Policy Analysis


Humanity's conceptualization of the global environment has changed radically in the four decades since the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. In many respects, there has been a fundamental transformation within the sciences, social sciences and humanities with the emergence of such critical disciplines as ecology, environmental ethics and, more recently, ecological economics. Underlying this remarkable disciplinary change has been a dramatic paradigm shift--from humanity as dominant over, yet independent of, the natural environment, to humanity as one, albeit important, element of a complex interrelated array of ecological entities. This reformulation of humanity's place in the global ecosystem crystallized in 1987 with the publication of the Bruntland Report and the articulation of the concept of sustainable development.

Defined simply as "development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," the concept of sustainable development has spurred a vast interpretative research literature which has focussed on its implications across a broad range of human activities and academic disciplines. Beguilingly simple in its phraseology, sustainable development has created an extraordinary intellectual challenge--first, to define it operationally and, second, to generate metrics to assess change both toward and away from it.

At the heart of sustainable development is the concept of systems theory--that all elements of a system are interrelated and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In simplest terms, sustainable development encompasses three subsystems. It is based on the analogy of a three-legged stool, requiring the simultaneous achievement of sustainability in three disparate spheres: economic, ecological and social. In the last category, sustainable development must address both intragenerational and intergenerational equity; i.e. issues of empowerment and distributional equity not only among the current inhabitants of the earth, but also across generations yet to be born. Several critical conceptual threads run throughout studies of sustainability:

(1) a distinction between qualitative and quantitative changes in the utilization of our technology and natural resource base (i.e. development versus growth). Central to operationalizing this distinction are technological advances which may permit us to raise our standard of living without increasing the throughput of resources--a process commonly referred to as "dematerialization;

(2) a focus on social justice, stability and empowerment with particular emphasis on reducing poverty and maintaining an adequate quality of life for all global inhabitants;

(3) borrowing from principles of business sector accounting, a direct or indirect articulation of the concept of natural capital--where maintenance of a constant natural capital stock (including the renewable resource base and the environment) yields an indefinite stream of output or "income." At its core is the proposition that the current generation must leave its descendents a stock of capital no less than is currently available. Implicit in this proposition is that we must, to the best of our ability, live off the "interest" on this capital stock and not draw it down. If part of this capital is consumed, it must be replaced by substitute capital. The ability to achieve this goal hinges on which of two alternative definitions is adopted: "weak" sustainability or "strong" sustainability.

Under the weak sustainability constant capital rule, we can consume some of our natural capital (in the form of environmental degradation, for example) as long as we offset this loss by increasing our stock of man-made capital. In contrast, under the strong sustainability constant capital rule, there is no perfect substitution among different forms of capital. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sustainable Resource Management: Reality or Illusion? Introduction and Summary
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.