Understanding Sustainability

Sustainability References

  • To search the entire database by keyword, enter a term or terms in the "keywords" box and leave the "category" tab at the default setting of blank, then click the "search" button.
  • To search by keyword within a category, select a "category" from the drop-down menu, then enter terms in the "keywords" box, then click "search."
  • To browse within a single category, select the desired category, but leave the "keywords" box blank, then click "search."

Reference Search Results You searched for USPs

Allen, Robert (Prescott). 1980. How to Save the World: Strategy for World Conservation. Kogan Page, London. (Published in 1981 with the same title by Littlefield, Adams & Company, New York under Robert Prescott-Allen.) 

Bartlett, Albert A. 2007. "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy." [video lecture on the exponential function] 

Beddoe, Rachael, Robert Costanza, Joshua Farley, Eric Garza, Jennifer Kent, Ida Kubiszewski, Luz Martinez, Tracy McCowen, Kathleen Murphy, Norman Myers, Zach Ogden, Kevin Stapleton, and John Woodward. 2009. "Overcoming Systemic Roadblocks to Sustainability: The Evolutionary Redesign of Worldviews, Institutions, and Technologies." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(8):2483-2489.

  • "Many governments worldwide have long-standing policies that promote growth in market goods at the expense of non-market public goods generated by healthy ecosystems. These include (i) over $2 trillion in annual subsidies for market activities and externalities that degrade the environment (i.e., perverse subsidies) (Myers and Kent 2001); (ii) reduced protection or privatization of the commons (Barnes 2006); and (iii) inadequate regulations and inadequate enforcement of existing regulations against environmental externalities (Brown 2007)." (p. 2486)
  • "Economies have weathered innumerable financial crises. However, the current financial crisis pales in comparison to the biophysical crisis. Yet these more critical crises are pushed off the front page by the financial crisis and the dominant worldview of continued economic growth and consumption. Not only do our current institutions and instruments fail to address the real crisis, they accomplish mutually reinforcing goals that move us in the wrong direction. No attention is given to the relationship between the biophysical crises and the market economy, although continuous economic growth in the wealthy countries is actually a major cause of the biophysical crises." (interpreted from Daly 2007, p. 2486)

Boulding, Kenneth E. 1966. "The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth." Pages 3-14 in Henry E. Jarrett (ed.), Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy, Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. [PDF] [related video]

  • "Even now we are very far from having made the moral, political, and psychological adjustments which are implied in this transition from an illimitable plane to the closed sphere." 

  • "The closed earth of the future requires economic principles which are somewhat different from those of the open earth of the past. ...I am tempted to call the open economy the 'cowboy economy,' the cowboy being symbolic of the illimitable plains and also associated with reckless, exploitative, romantic, and violent behavior, which is characteristic of open societies. The closed economy of the future might similarly be called the 'spaceman' economy, in which the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything, either for extraction or for pollution, and in which, therefore, man must find his place in a cyclical ecological system which is capable of continuous reproduction of material form even though it cannot escape having inputs of energy."
  • Note: Boulding called for a system change, especially in economics. Unfortunately, although in the 1960s and 1970s, the U.S. and other developed countries began to deal with negative externalities through regulations, that trend has reversed especially in the U.S.

Brown, Lester R. 1981. Building a Sustainable Society. W.W. Norton, New York. [author interview] [abstract] [review]

Caldwell, Lynton. 1984. "Political Aspects of Ecologically Sustainable Development." Environmental Conservation 11(4):299-308. [abstract]

  • "Educational efforts are necessary but insufficient to move the world into an ecologically sustainable mode of behavior. Political action that reflects moral conviction roused by scientific information will also be necessary. Safeguarding the environmental future and the biosphere requires a social commitment of a moral, quasi-religious character." (p. 299)

Capra, Fritjof. 2002. The Hidden Connections: Integrating the Biological, Cognitive, and Social Dimensions of Life into a Science of Sustainability. Doubleday, New York. [review] [summary (PDF)]

  • "In addition to its economic instability, the current form of global capitalism is ecologically and socially unsustainable, and hence not viable in the long run. Resentment against globalization is growing rapidly in all parts of the world. The fate of global capitalism may well be, as Manuel Castells puts it ‘the social, cultural, and political rejection by large numbers of people around the world of an Automaton whose logic either ignores or devalues their humanity.’ As we shall see, that rejection may already have begun." (p. 157)

Carson, Rachel. 1962. Silent Spring. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. [related essay]

Catton, William R., Jr. 1980. Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. University of Illinois Press, Champagne/Urbana. [excerpt: "Industrialization: Prelude to Collapse"] [review]

Chedd, Graham. 1970. "Hidden Peril of the Green Revolution." New Scientist 48(724):171-173.

Commoner, Barry. 1971. The Closing Circle: Man, Nature, and Technology. Knopf, New York. [critical review by Ehrlich and Holdren] [review by Michael Crichton in The New York Times]

>Early references to "sustainability":

  • "As the links between one living thing and another, and between all of them and their surroundings, begin to break down, the dynamic interactions that sustain the whole have begun to falter and, in some places, stop."
  • "...the testimony to our power to tear the ecological fabric that has, for millions of years, sustained the planet's life."
  • "Suddenly we have discovered what we should have known long before: that the ecosphere sustains people and everything that they do; that anything that fails to fit into the ecosphere is a threat to its finely balanced cycles; that wastes are not only unpleasant, not only toxic, but, more meaningfully, evidence that the ecosphere is being driven towards collapse."
  • "If we are to survive, we must understand why this collapse now threatens. Here the issues become far more complex than even the ecosphere. Our assaults on the ecosystem are so powerful, so numerous, so finely interconnected, that although the damage they do is clear, it is very difficult to discover how it was done. By which weapon? In whose hand? Are we driving the ecosphere to destruction simply by our growing numbers? By our greedy accumulation of wealth? Or are the machines which we have built to gain this wealth—the magnificent technology that now feeds us out of neat packages, that clothes us in man-made fibers, that surround us with new chemical creations—at fault?"
  • Note: Although the book was criticized for overemphasizing the role of technology in the environmental crisis, the book was important for at least four reasons: (1) illuminating some of the many unintended negative consequesnces of technology and placing those negative impacts as expressions of negative externalities, (2) placing the blame for the over-use of technology on the the greed of capitalism, (3) using the word "sustain" in the context of the present use of the terms "sustainability" and "sustainable development," and (4) conceptually placing the term "sustain" into the dimensions of nature and human society.

Coomer, J. 1981. Quest for a Sustainable Society. Pergamon Press, Oxford. (From the Woodlands Conference on Growth Policy 1979.)

Costanza, Robert, R. d'Arge, R. de Groot, S. Farber, M. Grasso, B. Hannon, S. Naeem, K. Limburg, J. Paruelo, R.V. O'Neill, R. Raskin, P. Sutton, and M. van den Belt. 1997. "The Value of the World's Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital." Nature 387:253-260. [PDF] [2014 update

Crutzen, Paul J. and E.F. Stoermer. 2000. "The 'Anthropocene'." IGBP Global Change Newsletter 41:17-18. 

Daly, Herman E. (ed.). 1973. Toward a Steady-State Economy. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco. [related short essay by Daly in 2008 in The OilDrum

  • In his "ends-means spectrum," Daly presents "low entropy matter-energy" (in the natural world) as "ultimate means," "stocks of artifacts and labor power" as "intermediate means," "health, education, comfort, etc." as "intermediate ends," and "summum bonum" (the highest good of life, or the highest level of well-being), as the "ultimate end." (p. 8)

  • Note: The human process of living on Earth takes place in a human system that involves cultural norms, a political-economic system, and social structures that determine what the intermediate means and ends and the ultimate ends look like.

Daly, Herman E. 1968. "On Economics as a Life Science." Journal of Political Economy 76(3):392-406. [PDF]

Dasmann, Raymond, J.R. Milton, and R.H. Freeman. 1973. Ecological Principles for Economic Development. John Wiley, London.

Dasmann, Raymond. 1959. Environmental Conservation. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Diamond, Jared M. 1975. "The island dilemma: lessons of modern biogeographic studies for the design of nature reserves." Biological Conservation 7(2):129-146. [abstract

Ehrenfeld, David W. 1970. Biological Conservation. Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York.

Ehrenfeld, David W. 1972. Conserving Life on Earth. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Ehrlich, Paul R. 1968. The Population Bomb. Ballantine, New York. [related article by Paul and Anne Ehrlich (PDF)]

Ehrlich, Paul R. and Anne Ehrlich. 1970. Population, Resources, Environment: Issues in Human Ecology. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco. 

Ehrlich, Paul R. and Anne H. Ehrlich. 1981. Extinction. Random House, New York.

Ehrlich, Paul R. and Richard L. Harriman. 1971. How to Be a Survivor: A Plan to Save Spaceship Earth. Ballantine, New York.

Ehrlich, Paul R., Anne H. Ehrlich, and J.P. Holdren. 1977. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco.

Ehrlich, Paul R., John P. Holdren, and Richard W. Holm. (eds.). 1971a. Man and the Eco-sphere: Readings from Scientific American. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco.

Ehrlich, Paul R., John P. Holdren, and Richard W. Holm. 1971b. "Limits Rarely Perceived: Introduction." Pages 41-47 in P.R. Ehrlich, J.P. Holdren, and R.W. Holm (eds.), Man and the Eco-sphere: Readings from Scientific American. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco.

Ekins, Paul. 1993. "Limits to growth and sustainable development: grappling with ecological realities." Ecological Economics 8(3):269-288. [PDF

Forbes, William. 2009. "Revisiting the 'River of the Mother of God': Aldo Leopold's Symbol of Global Wilderness." Minding Nature 2(2):16-24. [PDF]

Fraser, F. and Raymond F. Dasmann (eds.). 1971. A Conversation on Population, Environment, and Human Well-being. The Conservation Foundation, Washington, D.C.

Frova, Giulia. 2011. "Five Decades of Development Debate on Sustainability." Development 54(2):271-281. [PDF

Glaeser, B. 1979. Ecodevelopment: Concepts, Projects, Strategies. Pergamon, Oxford.

Hansen, James E., D. Johnson, A. Lacis, S. Lebedeff, P. Lee, D. Rind, and G. Russell. 1981. "Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide." Science 213:957-966. [PDF]

Haq, Mahbub ul. 1976. The Poverty Curtain: Choices for the Third World. Columbia University Press, New York. [related review essay by Des Gasper (PDF)

Hardin, Garrett. 1968. "The Tragedy of the Commons." Science 162:1243-1248. [PDF]

Hickman, Leo. 2011. "The 1847 Lecture that Predicted Human-induced Climate Change." The Guardian 20 June:15-17.

Ikerd, John E. 2012. The Essentials of Economic Sustainability. Kumarian Press, West Hartford. [excerpt 1: “The Three Ecological Principles of Economic Sustainability” in CSR Wire] [excerpt 2: “Ethics & The Challenge of Economic Sustainability” in CSR Wire] [excerpt 3: “The Hierarchy of Economic Sustainability: Getting The Principles Right” in CSR Wire]

IUCN. 1980. World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustainable Development. International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), Gland, Switzerland. [PDF]

From the Executive Summary on urgency:

These objectives must be achieved as a matter of urgency because:

  • the planet's capacity to support people is being irreversibly reduced in both developing and developed countries;
  • hundreds of millions of rural people in developing countries, including 500 million malnourished and 800 million destitute, are compelled to destroy the resources necessary to free them from starvation and poverty;
  • the energy, financial and other costs of providing goods and services are growing;
  • the resource base of major industries is shrinking.

From the main document on life-support systems and evolution:

  • "Living resource conservation has three specific objectives: 1) to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems (such as soil regeneration and protection, the recycling of nutrients, and the cleansing of waters), on which human survival and development depend; 2) to preserve genetic diversity (the range of genetic material found in the world's organisms), on which depend the breeding programmes necessary for the protection and improvement of cultivated plants and domesticated animals, as well as much scientific advance, technical innovation, and the security of the many industries that use living resources; 3) to ensure the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forests and grazing lands), which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries." (sec. 1.7)
  • "The issue of moral principle relates particularly to species extinction, and may be stated as follows. Human beings have become a major evolutionary force. While lacking the knowledge to control the biosphere, we have the power to change it radically. We are morally obliged-to our descendants and to other creatures-to act prudently. Since our capacity to alter the course of evolution does not make us any the less subject to it, wisdom also dictates that we be prudent. We cannot predict what species may become useful to us. Indeed we may learn that many species that seem dispensable are capable of providing important products, such as pharmaceuticals, or are vital parts of life-support systems on which we depend. For reasons of ethics and self-interest, therefore, we should not knowingly cause the extinction of a species." (sec. 3.2)

Kuhn, Thomas S. 1962. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [wikipedia summary] [summary] [chapter 3: "The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions"] [guide by Malcom Forster]

Leakey, Richard E. and Roger Lewin. 1995. The Sixth Extinction: Patterns of Life and the Future of Mankind. Doubleday, New York. [Chapter 13] [review]

Leopold, Aldo. 1949. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press, New York. [discussion guide (PDF)] [excerpts

Lovelock, James E. 1979. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. Oxford University Press, Oxford. [introduction]

Lovins, Amory B. 1977. Soft Energy Paths: Toward a Durable Peace. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lubchenco, Jane. 1998. "Entering the Century of the Environment: A New Social Contract for Science." Science 279(5350):491-497.

Marsh, George Perkins. 1864. Man and Nature: or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge. [review]

Marsh, George Perkins. 1874. The Earth as Modified by Human Action. Scribner, New York.

Maslow, Abraham H. 1943. "A Theory of Human Motivation." Psychological Review 50:370-396. [related contemporary paper by Douglas Kenrick]

Max-Neef, Manfred A. 1982 (1992). From the Outside Looking In: Experiences in Barefoot Economics. Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation, Uppsala, Sweden. [PDF] [author interview]

Max-Neef, Manfred A. 1991. Human Scale Development: Conception, Application and Further Reflections. Apex Press, New York. [PDF] [Spanish version (PDF)]

Table: Basic Needs for Human Development (adapted from Max-Neef 1982 and 1991).


Being (qualities)

Having (things)

Doing (actions)

Interacting (settings)







physical and mental health (wellness)

food, shelter, work, good land, clean environment

eat, clothe, rest, work

home space, social spaces, work place (everywhere)


care, adaptable, safe

social security, compensation, laws, healthcare, work

cooperate, plan, care for, assist



respect, sense of humor, generosity, sensuality

friends, family, relationships with nature

share, care for, make love, express emotions, procreate

privacy, intimate spaces of togetherness


critical capacity, curiosity, intuition

literature, teachers, policies, educational

analyze, study, meditate, investigate,

schools, families, universities, communities,


receptiveness, dedication, sense of humor

responsibilities, duties, work, rights

cooperate, dissent, express opinions

associations, parties, churches, neighborhoods


imagination, tranquility, spontaneity

games, parties, peace of mind

day-dream, remember, relax, have fun

landscapes, intimate spaces, places to be alone


imagination, boldness, inventiveness, curiosity

abilities, skills, work, techniques

invent, build, design, work, compose, interpret

spaces for expression, workshops, audiences


sense of belonging, self-esteem, consistency

language, religions, work, customs, values, norms

get to know oneself, grow, commit oneself

places one belongs to, everyday settings


autonomy, passion, self-esteem, open-mindedness

equal rights

dissent, choose, run risks, learn


McHarg, Ian L. 1969. Design with Nature. Doubleday, New York. [Introduction (PDF)

Meadows, Donella H., Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and W.W. Behrens. 1972. The Limits of Growth: A Report for the Club of Rome's Project on the Predicament of Mankind. New American Library, New York. [PDF] [30 Year Update Synopsis (PDF)]

Miller, Kenton R. 1978. Planning National Parks for Ecodevelopment: Methods and Cases from Latin America. (2 Volumes). University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. [PDF]

Muir, John. 1911. My First Summer in the Sierra. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. [1987 Edition by Penguin, New York.]

Naess, Arne. 1973. "The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement. A summary." Inquiry 16(1):95-100. [PDF] [collected works of Arne Naess in the Trumpeter]

Odum, Eugene P. 1969. "The Strategy of Ecosystem Development: An Understanding of Ecological Succession Provides a Basis for Resolving Man's Conflict with Nature." Science 164(3877):262-270.

Odum, Eugene P. 1970. "Optimum Population and Environment." Current History June:355-359, 365.

Odum, Eugene P. 1971. Fundamentals of Ecology. W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia.

Odum, Eugene P. 1975. Ecology: The Link between the Natural and Social Sciences. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York.

Odum, Eugene P. 1977. "The Emergence of Ecology as a New Integrative Discipline." Science 195:1289-1293. [summary] [biographical memoir of E. Odum (PDF)]

Odum, Eugene P. and Howard T. Odum. 1972. "Natural Areas as Necessary Components of Man's Total Environment." Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference 37:178-189.

Odum, Howard T. 1971. Environment, Power, and Society. John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Odum, Howard T. 1974. "The Plowboy Papers: Energy, Ecology and Economics." Mother Earth News 27( May/June).

Pirages, Dennis Clark. 1977. The Sustainable Society: Implications for Limited Growth. Praeger, New York.

Prance, Ghillean T. and Thomas S. Elias (eds.). 1977. Extinction Is Forever: Threatened and Endangered Species of Plants in the Americas and Their Significance in Ecosystems Today and in the Future. Proceedings of a Symposium on the Status of Threatened and Endangered Plants of the Americas. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.

Rees, William E. 2010. "Thinking 'Resilience'." Chapter 3 in Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch (eds.), The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crisis. Watershed Media, Healdsburg, California. [PDF]

Rees, William E., Mathis Wackernagel, and Phil Testemale. 1996. Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. New Society Publishers, Gabriola Island, British Columbia.

Riddell, Robert. 1981. Ecodevelopment: Economics, Ecology, and Development. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Robson, Andrew. "Becoming a Sustainable Campus: An Experience with the Earth Charter Community Summits." University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, United States. [PDF]

Sachs, Ignacy. 1979. "Ecodevelopment: A Definition." Ambio 8(2/3):113.

Sachs, Ignacy. 1984. "Developing in harmony with nature: Consumption patterns, time and space use, resource profiles, and technological choices." In B. Glaeser (ed.), Ecodevelopment: Concepts, Policies, Strategies. Pergamon, New York.

Sachs, Ignacy. 1984. "The Strategies of Ecodevelopment." Ceres (FAO Review on Agriculture and Development) 17(4):17-21.

Sauer, Carl O. 1938. "Theme of Plant and Animal Destruction in Economic History." Journal of Farm Economics 20(4):765-775.

Sauer, Carl O. 1966. The Early Spanish Main. University of California Press, Berkeley.

Sauer, Carl O. 1956. "The Agency of Man on the Earth." Pages 49-69 in William L. Thomas (ed.), Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. [review]

Sawyer, J.S. 1972. "Man-made Carbon Dioxide and the 'Greenhouse' Effect." Nature 239:23-26. [PDF]

Solow, Robert M. 1974. "Intergenerational Equity and Exhaustible Resources." Review of Economic Studies 41(Symposium Issue):29-45. [PDF]

Thomas, William L. (ed.). 1956. Man's Role in Changing the Face of the Earth. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1854. Walden: On Life in the Woods. Ticknor & Fields, Boston.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1864. The Maine Woods. Ticknor & Fields, Boston.

Vitousek, Peter M., H.A. Mooney, Jane Lubchenco, and J.M. Melillo. 1997. "Human Domination of Earth's Ecosystems." Science 277(5325):494-499. [PDF]

Vitousek, Peter M., Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Pamela A. Matson. 1986. "Human Appropriation of the Products of Photosynthesis." BioScience 36(6):368-373. [PDF]

WCED. 1987. Report of the World Commission on Environmenta and Development: Our Common Future. United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development, Oxford University Press, London. (Chaired by Gro Brundtland, the publication also is referred to as the Brundtland Report.) [PDF] [Chapter Two with a focus on growth]

Weart, Spencer R. 2008. The Discovery of Global Warming: Revised and Expanded Edition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge. (Originally published in 2003.)  [related website]  [bibliography]

White, Jr., Lynn. 1968. "The Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis." Science 155(3767):1203-1207. [PDF]

Yapa, Lakshman S. 1979. "Ecopolitical Economy of the Green Revolution." The Professional Geographer 31(4):371-376. [abstract]

Yapa, Lakshman S. 1980. "Diffusion, Development, and Ecopolitical Economy." Pages 101-141 in John Agnew (ed.), Innovation, Research, and Public Policy. Syracuse Geographical Series #5, Syracuse University Press, Syracuse.

Log In