“An activity is sustainable when all costs are internalized, because if the costs are too high, the activities stop. Low gas prices lead to more Hummers; taxing gas in some fashion to pay for environmental remediation makes sense, and is a pro-sustainability approach. This version of sustainability applies not only to the environment: labor practices are unsustainable if they breed unrest (or revolution) or fail to develop the labor force; additives that extend product shelf life are unsustainable if they diminish human life; corporate presence in a town may be unsustainable if the tax breaks that attracted the facility mean that it is not paying enough to keep the community thriving.
In this view, corporate social responsibility, cleantech, and carbon sequestration or trading are all approaches that can improve sustainability. The key principles are:
(1) Measure the system life-cycle costs in all dimensions we care about
(2) Internalize those costs rather than wave them away or throw them over some regulatory transom. The nurturing of human capital, the fairness of resource allocation (corruption is unsustainable), and caring for the health environment of workers or neighbors are equally a part of running a business or a nation in a sustainable manner.” (Meyer)