Sustainability Pictures X

Posted on November 6, 2009


Ten more for the  collection.     Breaking my rule of stand-alone images but these seemed quite evocative, even if they do take some explanation.

See also these variations on earlier approaches: Venn diagrams coming together and showing changing dominance of sectors in a static animation, and a nice systems loop.


179. Brown’s 15 elements of Ecovillage living


180. The Barometer of Sustainability (ICUN)

The Barometer of Sustainability is the only performance scale that measures human and ecosystem wellbeing together without submerging one in the other.  The Barometer’s key features are:
• Two axes, one for human wellbeing, the other for ecosystem wellbeing. This enables each set of indicators to be combined independently, keeping them separate to allow analysis of people-ecosystem interactions.
• The axis with the lower score overrides the other axis in the analysis. This prevents a high score for human wellbeing from offsetting a low score for ecosystem wellbeing, or vice versa. This approach reflects the view that people and the ecosystem are equally important and that sustainable development must improve and maintain the wellbeing of both.


181. ‘The Egg of Sustainability’ (Robert Prescott-Allen, in IUCN, 1995)


182. Red triangle/Green Circle (from SustainAbility Gearing Up).

These high friction worlds are represented by the red triangle: low levels of trust increase friction in the system, with different sectors fighting (or ‘scapegoating’) each other.


183.  Mapping environmental problems by management and revsersibility (UNEP Geo4)


184.  Global environmental outlook framework (UNEP Geo4)

Net gains in human well-being facilitated by the social and economic sectors have, however, been at the cost of growing environmental changes, and the  exacerbation of poverty for some groups of people


185. Shrinking Earth (UNEP Geo4)


186.  Sustainability Asymptogram (Onwueme and Borsari – Proquest link)


100 percent sustainability is a perfect state that is practically unattainable by anybody or any system.  No matter how good a person or system is, there is always a sustainability deficit that cannot be overcome, as entropy affects living systems and their physical habitats without exceptions.  This means that there is always room for improvement.  Different persons or systems are located at different levels on the curve, with larger or smaller sustainability deficits, but with deficits all the same.

187.  Meadows’ framework (after Daly). (Balaton Group)

I see the triangle as saying there’s no way human ends can be realized without healthy, functioning natural and economic systems


188.  Ecosphere as a mail sorter (Collins)

Imagine all of Earth’s chemistry as a mail sorter’s wall of letter slots in a post office, with the network of compartments extending toward infinity (see the bottom figure, next page). Each compartment represents a separate chemistry so that, for example, thousands of compartments are associated with stratospheric chemistry or with a human cell. An environmentally mobile persistent pollutant can move from compartment to compartment, sampling a large number and finding those compartments that it can perturb. Many perturbations may be inconsequential, but others can cause unforeseen catastrophes, such as the ozone hole or some of the manifestations of endocrine disruption. Most compartments remain unidentified and even for known compartments, the interactions of the pollutant with the compartment’s contents can usually not be foreseen, giving ample reason for scientific humility when considering the safety of persistent mobile compounds.