Enlarge / An artist’s rendering of what a 24-hour solar thermal plant at Tamarugal plant could look like. (credit: SolarReserve)
The idea of sustainability is pretty simple: Manage our resources such that they can continue to support us indefinitely.

And, for an individual resource, sustainability is simple.

Avoiding something like depleting our groundwater means that future generations have access to as much water as we do and don’t face the consequences of sinking soil.
But sustainability gets complicated when you start considering multiple, competing uses.

Cutting back on water usage may influence things like agriculture, energy production, and more, making them less sustainable.

Just how complicated does all of this get? Lei Gao and Brett Bryan of Australia’s CSIRO research organization decided to use their home country as a test of sustainability goals, and the results are disheartening. While moving any aspect of land use into the “sustainable” column is possible, the more aspects you try to push into that column, the harder it gets.
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