EM SC 240N
Energy and Sustainability in Contemporary Culture

Lesson 2: Fundamental Sustainability Considerations



The material in this lesson covers many of the fundamental considerations in sustainability. All sustainability topics are related in some way, but the topics addressed in this lesson are either integrated into many other topics, or are overarching issues that many other topics are a part of. These concepts are important to understand if you want to analyze specific issues such as water sustainability, energy sustainability, and others (those are addressed in Lesson 3), or to understand sustainability holistically.

Lesson Objectives

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • differentiate between positive externalities, negative externalities, and non-external impacts;
  • explain how externalities impact sustainability;
  • analyze the impact of the social cost of carbon on economic decisions;
  • identify elements of ecological footprint;
  • compare the impacts of various lifestyle choices on ecological footprint;
  • analyze how ecological footprint relates to sustainability;
  • differentiate between different quality of life metrics;
  • differentiate between energy return on energy invested (EROI), embodied energy, and net energy;
  • examine benefits and limitations of EROI values;
  • characterize the difference between growth and development;
  • define steady state economy;
  • analyze how establishing a steady state economy can impact sustainability;
  • identify approaches to achieving a steady state economy;
  • explain how Gross Domestic Product relates to development;
  • identify the relationship between sustainability and various quality of life metrics;
  • theorize what factors lead to a high quality of life;
  • define social and environmental justice; and
  • identify examples of social and environmental injustice.

What is due this week?

Please note that the quiz can only be taken once. You have unlimited time to complete it prior to the deadline and can save your progress and pick up where you left off at a later time. See the Assignments and Grading section of the syllabus for tips on how to do this. Once you submit the quiz, you cannot change answers. All saved answers will automatically be submitted at the deadline if you have not submitted them.

Requirement Submission Location
Lesson 2 Quiz Modules tab > Lesson 2
Continue posting to the Yellowdig discussion board. Modules tab > Lesson 2
OPTIONAL Extra Credit: Lesson 2 Extra Credit quiz Modules tab > Lesson 2


If you have any general course questions, please post them to our HAVE A QUESTION? discussion forum located under the Discussions tab. I will check that discussion forum regularly to respond as appropriate. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses and comments if you are able to help out a classmate. If you have a question but would like to remain anonymous to the other students, email me.

If you have something related to the material that you'd like to share, feel free to post to the Coffee Shop forum, also under the Discussions tab.