In the midst of our cultural understanding of climate change (the modern period beginning in 1988 with the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the terminology has shifted quite a bit. Starting with the now negatively-associated term “global warming” shifting to the all-encompassing term “climate change,” countless words have increased in usage over the past 30 years. One of the biggest casualties is the word “sustainable.”
In the 1990s, many other factors attained consideration in regards to climate change, rather than merely the rise of greenhouse gases affecting the earth’s surface temperature. Among this advancement in cultural awareness was the deceleration of prominent synonymous words. As we used “sustainable” more and more, words such as “renewable,” “supportable,” and even “resilient” became less and less available.
This graph displays an accurate approximation of this trend:
As you can see, by 2109 the only word in the English language will be “sustainable,” and all sentences will just be reusing that word over and over again. However, the unsustainable use of “sustainable” creates pressure, threatening the further use of the word. This is due to the nature of an exponentially growing population and increasing regularity upon use from the individual, desertifying the English language into a wasteland.
As it is as unsustainable as the nouns typically associated with it, we must reduce the usage of “sustainable.” Our children’s future depends on it.