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One common definition of sustainability (based on the 1987 UN report, Our Common Future) is the ability to provide for the needs of the world’s current population without negatively impacting the ability of future generations to provide for their needs.

Here is another take. The word sustain means to keep in existence. That is a fairly vague definition. It raises at least two questions: What is being sustained? and How is it to be sustained? The answers to the questions shape one’s definition of sustainability. What is being sustained? Humankind? All living organisms? The current biosphere? The earth as is? How? By using natural resources at a rate in which they can be naturally replenished, and by not polluting, contaminating, disrupting key ingredients to life – air, water, food, climate, etc.?

This site will focus on sustainability in terms of reducing or eliminating the negative effects of industrial processes, be they manufacturing, energy generation, food production, transportation, etc., on the environment as well as on human health and well being. Relevant topics are alternative or renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, closed loop supply chains, life cycle analysis, cradle to cradle design, etc.


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  1. Sarah / Mar 1 2012 5:22 pm

    I am so glad I found your site.
    I’m currently an undergrad studying applied math (physics). I have been grappling with what I should do next. I’ve been leaning towards operations research but have felt this rapidly increasing pull towards sustainability.
    THANK YOU for building this site. It is a huge push in the right direction for me.

  2. or4green / Mar 5 2012 5:41 am

    Sarah – you’re very welcome. I was a physics & astronomy major as an undergrad then shifted to applied math for my PhD, and gravitated towards OR then, so your path is a little like mine. Good luck figuring out what to do next, I hope something on this site helps. –Ian

  3. Praveen / May 15 2016 10:31 pm

    Wow, this site is great!! I am going to do my Masters in OR and this site helped me realize it is possible to combine my passion for OR with my passion for sustainability !!!

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