What Exactly Is Sustainability?

Lately, it seems as though I have been bombarded by a term that I thought I knew what it meant – “Sustainability”. The problem is that I see it used in so many different contexts that I begin to doubt myself. Is this word now interchangeable with Integrated Pest Management, Best Management Practices, Environmental Stewardship, and Green? It seems so, but something is missing. That something is what would bring this rather esoteric word down to earth, literally.

My version of sustainability centers on survival. That may be a bit strong for some people, but I don’t much care for political-speak. This survival can be biological or economic, but the result of not being sustainable means the same – the end. This end does not come quickly. It drags on and on with much suffering until mercifully the light goes out. On golf courses and other business oriented ventures, this is the literal end and many people are affected. For the world, the prospect is too terrible to comprehend.

I just finished a keynote presentation that I will give at the Golf Asia Summit in Brunei in a couple of weeks. The main theme of the conference is sustainability. I finish my talk with a slide showing Earth and Mars, side by side with the statement “You choose”. In other words, we do have a choice and we need to make it now. We need to start conserving and protecting our natural and economic resources. Sustainable as I see it is a way of life and a way of business. Those who embrace sustainability concepts will be around to see the future. Those who do not will be culled out and discarded. You see, for me it is personal. I can make a difference in my life and my work, and I don’t need to worry about those who do not think it necessary. If I set the example perhaps others will follow, but that will be a result and not a goal. My goal is for myself. How about you?

Jon Scott, Director of Agronomy for the Nicklaus Design Group


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