Human Values and Sustainability

This hillside in the Gallatin National Forest in Montana was damaged by strip-mining for minerals, an example of valuing natural resources for the sake of economic growth. The 2006 photograph shows early attempts at restoring the area's landscape and wildlife habitats after the mine was closed.

Photo credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service/Ryan Hagerty

Sustainability is a complex, evolving set of human values based on a growing understanding of the negative impacts of our activities on the Earth. These activities affect not only the planet's ecosystems that support our life, but also the quality of our human relationships.

As we are coming to understand it, sustainability, while radical, springs from deep sociocultural roots. It is a holistic approach to our human relationships with each other and the environment, ...

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