Brad Allenby writes in GreenBuzz, "Sustainable Engineering: Implementing an Oxymoron"
Data-driven engineers can't deal with sustainability because it is too value-laden and its precepts are "mythic" - meaning generalizations and world views that don't come down to the practical algorithms engineers deal with. Nor does it acknowledge the cultural biases of engineers themselves. (He also laments the "green" bias of the "sustainability" movement - a fairly narrow view that doesn't acknowledge trade-offs and differences in cultural values. The triple bottom line of environment/economic /social issues is still basically a handful of politically correct attributes-of-the-day in my mind.)

Because we all come at the concept of "sustainable" with a different value set, can there be a unifying vision for mankind?

It occurred to me reading Allenby's paper that engineers would classify total entropy as the only true sustainable state for the world - everything at the same energy level, doing nothing and going nowhere. No thank you.

Here's my take: A world where we can all try to do better for ourselves and others. Not that we all will succeed. But some of us will. It's a world where there is still hope. Where creativity, caring, and trying still matters. But it's more than just "sustaining" hope. It's a greater than zero possibility to attain dreams for every person now and into the future.

I'm still struggling with a better bumper sticker than "sustainable development." Any ideas?

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