The Meaning of Sustainability


  1. D. H. Meadows, et al., Limits to Growth (Universe Books, New York, 1972).
  2. Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982).
  3. A. A. Bartlett, review of The Ultimate Resource, Amer. J. Phys, 53, 282-285 (March 1985)
  4. G. H. Brundtland, The World Commission on Environment and Development, 1983. The report was published as Our Common Future by the Oxford University Press in 1987.
  5. A. A. Bartlett, “Reflections on Sustainability, Population Growth and the Environment,” in Marco Keiner (ed.) The Future of Sustainability, (Springer, The Netherlands, 2006).
  6. W. J. Clinton and Al Gore, Putting People First: How We Can All Change America (Times Books, New York, 1992).
  7. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1872).
  8. A. A. Bartlett, “An Analysis of US and World Oil Production Using Hubbert-Style Curves,” Mathematical Geology, (1), 1 (January 2000).
  9. A. A. Bartlett, “A Depletion Protocol for Non- Renewable Natural Resources: Australia as an Example,” Natural Resources Research, 15(3), 151-164 (September 2006).
  10. Kenneth S. Deffeyes, Hubbert’s Peak: The Impending World Oil Shortage, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001). See also When Oil Peaked (Hill & Wang, 2010).
  11. Richard Heinberg, Peak Everything; Waking up to the Century of Declines (New Society Publishers, Canada, 2007).
  12. A. A. Bartlett, Teachers Clearinghouse for Science and Society Newsletter, 27(2), 21 Spring 2008)
  13. David Pimentel, private communication
  14. Optimum Population Trust of Great Britain.
  15. President George H.W. Bush at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1992
  16. Thomas A. Edison, in a conversation with Henry Ford (automobiles) and Harvey Firestone (rubber tires), 1931. See Uncommon Friends, by James Newton.
  17. A. A. Bartlett, “Sustained Availability,” American Journal of Physics, 54(5), 398 (May 1986).
  18. The Uppsala Protocol was proposed by Colin Campbell, petroleum geologist, and Kjell Aleklett, physicist, of the Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. One posting gives the date of 28 February 2003, Updated 7 June 2004. The same protocol is posted as the Rimini Protocol from the Pio Manzu Conference, Rimini, Italy, 28-30 October 2005.
  19. Roger Pielke, Jr., quoted in “Boulder Eyes New Carbon Goals,” Boulder Daily Camera, 1A, (19 Dec 2011).
  20. Neal Peirce, Washington Post Writer’s Group, 3 July 2011.
  21. Sagan, Carl, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, (Ballentine Books, 1997).
  22. Eric Sevareid, CBS News, 29 Dec 1970, quoted in Thomas L. Martin, Malice in Blunderland, (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1973) 23.
  23. A. A. Bartlett, “Energy Threat from Overpopulation,” Physics Today, 64(11) 10 (Nov 2011).
  24. Nicholas Rankin, Churchill’s Wizards (Faber & Faber, London, 2008)
  25. Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
  26. For example, a major U.S. university reports that “. . .students explore sustainability throughout the curriculum. More than 500 undergraduate and nearly 300 graduate courses related to sustainability are available through dozens of colleges, schools and departments across . . . campuses. Highlighting . . . commitment to sustainability in education is the pioneering School of Sustainability which saw 544 undergraduates and 86 graduate students enrolled… Online [we] have launched a new Graduate Certificate in Sustainability Leadership.”
  27. Richard Heinberg, The End of Growth, Adapting to Our New Economic Reality (New Society Publishers, Canada, 2011).
  28. Moyers, Bill, A World of Ideas, (Doubleday, New York, 1989).
  29. Modern agriculture is terribly inefficient. It is estimated that it requires the expenditure of about 10 joules of energy, much of it from petroleum, to put just 1 joule of food energy on your dinner plate.
  30. E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful, (Blond and Briggs, 1973).

* This paper was originally published in the “Teachers Clearinghouse For Science and Society Education Newsletter” Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter 2012, Pg. 1. This newsletter is sponsored by the Association of Teachers in Independent Schools. Affiliated with the Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, Editor- in-Chief, John Roeder, The Calhoun School, 433 West End Avenue, New York City, 10024.

This article is an expanded version of an invited paper that was presented at the Annual Summer Meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, 1 August 2011.


Albert Bartlett

Albert A. Bartlett (1923-2013) was Professor Emeritus in Nuclear Physics at University of Colorado at Boulder.Dr. Bartlett received a BA degree from Colgate University and MA and PhD degrees in Nuclear Physics from Harvard University in 1948 and 1951, respectively. He was a faculty member at the University of Colorado since 1950. He was President of the American Association of Physics Teachers in 1978. In 1981 he received the Association's Robert A. Millikan Award for his outstanding scholarly contributions to physics education.
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