Tackling Sustainababble

Feb 5 2016

Professor Michael Maniates, Head of Studies of Environmental Studies at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, delivered the first talk of the semester about “The New Urgency of “Sustainability,” asking whether “this is the right way of battling the environmental issues the world faces? Or is it nothing more than ‘sustainababble’?”

Maniates explained on February 2 that ‘sustainababble’ is about the overuse of the word ‘sustainability’ in tactical efforts to solve ecological problems. He argued that the excessive focus on sustainability -- tied to the demands for economic development -- allows the current generations to continue “doing their thing” and expand personal consumption that is labeled as ‘sustainable’ under the misconception that somehow resources were being conserved.


To tackle sustainababble, eco-modernisation and personal consumption, Maniates, who hopped across the room to underscore the geometric escalation of demands placed on planet earth, spoke of the need to “reboot.” He argued for four novel approaches: operationalize sustainability, focus on restorative technical innovations, engage in the politics of sacrifice, and pursue high prosperity with low or no economic growth.

Before taking questions from the well-attended event hosted on the 15th floor by Professor Dan Guttman, Maniates concluded by arguing that education is a critical ingredient to foster change in the environmental movement to overcome sustainababble.