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Searching for Sustainability

By Doug Rich

Searching through late-night cable television, it is not too difficult to find a show dedicated to finding proof of aliens from outer space or Bigfoot. The History Channel features a show called “UFO Hunter,” and MysteryQuest had an episode called “Alien Cover-Up.” The show “Finding Bigfoot” is on the cable TV channel Animal Planet.

There is even a show dedicated to finding proof that mermaids existed on this planet at one time.

I haven’t pitched this idea to a cable TV outlet yet, but maybe there should be a show dedicated to finding a definition for sustainability. This definition is nearly as elusive as Bigfoot and as clouded in secrecy as the alien landing in Roswell, N.M. I know the definition for sustainability is out there somewhere.

Recently I took part in a roundtable discussion with several people including the vice president of sustainability and corporate affairs for a large agricultural company. My first question was for a definition of sustainability. There was a lot of nervous laughter and shuffling of feet before I let him off the hook.

Every agricultural organization and company, as well as those who want to be associated with agriculture, say they are in favor of sustainability. But I am pretty sure when the Humane Society of the U.S. and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association talk about sustainability, they are not aiming at the same target.

Simply stated, the definition of sustainability is the capacity to endure. But nothing in this world is simple. Wikipedia says, “A universally accepted definition of sustainability remains elusive because it needs to be factual and scientific, a clear statement of a specific destination.”

Wikipedia notes that since the 1980s sustainability has been used more in the sense of human sustainability on planet Earth that has resulted in one of the most widely quoted definitions of sustainability as part of the concept of sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development is defined, as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

I am not sure this is getting me any closer to a definition of sustainability.

My definition of sustainability includes the production of animal protein (beef, pork, and poultry) and the use of genetically modified crops to feed the world today and in the future. We need both of these if we are to endure.

However, my search for a clear, concise definition of sustainability continues. Look for me soon as the host of a new cable TV series titled “Searching for Sustainability.”

Doug Rich can be reached by phone at 785-749-5304, or by email at richhpj@aol.com.

Date: 6/10/2013

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