Define 'sustainability.' We are often afflicted by a general familiarity with words, if not being able to fully grasp their true meaning. With this admission in hand, there is perhaps no better definition of sustainability than Steven Cohen's recent article in the Huffington Post, The Inevitability of Sustainability Politics, Technology, and Management.
Cohen succeeds in pointing out the relevance of sustainability, and does so to the extent that sustainability is imperative. It is not an option to do otherwise—we, the people of the United States, must commit to sustainable practices simply to survive. All roads lead to Rome, in other words, because every environmental force pressing down on the society of the 21st century demands going green.
Take health for example. Pollution in the environment is closing in on the American household, and will put our health at risk if we do not reverse its proliferation. This speaks to a definition of sustainability—of going green—as something immediately relevant to the individual. Going green isn't about protecting something that's out there, it's about preserving a healthy world for us to live in.
As for policy and economics, Cohen is spot-on: "Pollution and poisoning people or the planet may provide some short-term benefits, but our experience with environmental remediation and restoration tells us that these short-term benefits are consumed quite rapidly, and are soon replaced by longer term costs."