1007: Sustainable

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Though 100 years is longer than a lot of our resources.
Title text: Though 100 years is longer than a lot of our resources.


This is a graph of the usage of the word "Sustainable" in English in the United States each year. And as you can see, Randall extends the graph to the point where sustainable will be used as every word.

Sustainable has been increasing in use as people of the US are concerned about making sure that Earth's resources are not totally exhausted in the near future by developing sustainable development. Sustainable development (using Wikipedia here) is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come.

As Randall mentions in the title text, the 100 years it takes for the word sustainable to get to 100% usage is a lot longer than most of our non-renewable (and non-sustainable) resources will last on the Earth.

The graph is plotted with a logarithmic independent axis. Most people aren't used to reading these kind of graphs, so while it looks like the increase is linear and one day we will wake up and find that the only word in our vocabulary is the word "Sustainable," we are merely in the first phase, where use is rocketing up. After some time the increase in the amount of "sustainable"s you hear will slow.


Frequency of use of the word "sustainable" in US English text, as a percentage of all words, by year. Source: Google NGrams.

[A two-axis graph with percentages increasing logarithmically (from 0.000001% to 1,000%) on the Y-axis, and years progressing linearly (from 1950 to 2140) on the X-axis. Actual data points show a high correlation from 0.00001 at 1950 to 0.001% at present day. Extrapolated data points exist for the future. 2036 (approx. 0.1%): "sustainable" occurs an average of once per page. 2061(approx. 1%): "sustainable" occurs an average of once per sentence. 2109(approx. 100%) All sentences are just the word "sustainable" over and over.]

The word "sustainable" is unsustainable.

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This is a great lesson for me that no matter what we think is occurring, it's probably wrong; that statistics themselves are unsustainable; and that only goals that matter need to be sustainable in the long term. - e-inspired 15:15, 27 February 2013 (UTC)

Yes, WAY too heavy, but I was just trying to inspire other engineers, perhaps people smarter then I, to try solving the world problems (You will probably do better job then law makers). Hope to read your theory in the book some day. - E-inspired (talk) 08:33, 3 March 2013 (UTC)

Sustainable sustainable sustainable, prophetic view of sustainable sustainable. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo 03:12, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Ironically, this comic does nothing to help the situation at hand. 02:12, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

What happened in 1966-67, when there was that peak in the use of the word?-- 10:59, 30 May 2015 (UTC)

Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a book that started the environmentalist movement. 05:07, 21 December 2017 (UTC)

0.5% is "once per sentence"? Didn't know most sentences had 200 words. 01:06, 21 August 2015 (UTC)

2108:Hello, sustainable is sustainability. 2109: Sustainable, sustainability. 20:10, 29 May 2016 (UTC)

2110: Sustainability, sustainable. Sustainable sustainability:sustainable. Klyxm (talk) 03:49, 5 March 2018 (UTC)

We just increased it from 0.003% to 0.004% StillNotOriginal 16:33, 20 May 2018 (UTC)