This is what sustainability looks like

I wrote recently that to achieve sustainability we only need do two things:

  • create more resources each year
  • create more diversity each year.

I said that Nature has done this for billions of years.

Here is a graphic that shows what I mean:
(Click to enlarge)

(Source)

The Earth was created about 4,500 million years ago, at the bottom-centre of the chart.

Slightly to the left of bottom-centre, the first life forms to appear were bacteria. These evolved over the years into the many different types we have today (at the left-hand edge). Every year there were more bacteria (more resources), and more types of bacteria (more diversity).

About two and a half billion years after the first bacteria, a step change created the new forms we call ‘archaea’, ‘eukaryotes’, then plants and fungi. These also continued to evolve, into the different forms we have today (at the left hand edge of the chart).

And then came insects, crabs, spiders, worms, snails, clams and so on; plus fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

Our own evolution happened only a very short time ago, and is shown at the far right-hand side of the chart.

This is what sustainability looks like.

Even though the process seems to work at random, it is able to cope with great extinction events. But every year, broadly speaking, there is a greater quantity of life, in a greater variety of forms. Life goes on.

This is sustainability.

If we could create business organisations, that operated under the same principles, then we would have a sustainable economy.

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