"How Not to Kill Most Life on This Planet" is a brief (12 page) introduction to what the author calls "Radical Sustainability," written in question and answer format. This piece explores current misconceptions about sustainability and offers a coherent definition of this much misunderstood concept before going on to deal with some specific examples of what can and cannot be considered sustainable.
Excerpt from the text:
Q: Before we get started, why do we even need a new kind of sustainability in the first place? What's wrong with sustainability as we know it today?
A: Right off the bat it should be cleared up that Radical Sustainability isn't new at all; it's just getting back to the real meaning of sustainability. At this point in time relatively few people know what sustainability actually means. What most of us are familiar with is what should really be called Liberal Sustainability. Like liberal politics, Liberal Sustainability tries to find just solutions to problems, but can only act in reformist ways, meaning within the limits of the status quo or “business as usual,” through established (often bureaucratic) channels. Because the status quo is arranged defensively to combat the possibility of significant change, reform can only be in a sense cosmetic, like pruning the branches of a tree, whereas a radical activity would be going for the tree's roots.
As such reform can change the less important details of something, but not its essential character. Liberal Sustainability just isn't cutting it: it's not making things better in any fundamental way, so our environment is still being devastated.