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THE NATURAL STEP'S FOUR SYSTEM CONDITIONS

(necessary to achieve a sustainable society)

1. Substances from the Earth’s crust can not systematically increase in the biosphere.

This means that fossil fuels, metals, and other minerals can not be extracted at a faster rate than their re-deposit back into the Earth’s crust.

2. Substances produced by society can not systematically increase in the biosphere.

This means that substances must not be produced at a faster rate than they can be broken down in nature. This requires a greatly decreased production of naturally occurring substances that are systematically accumulating beyond natural levels, and a phase-out of persistent human-made substances not found in nature.

3. The physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not be systematically deteriorated.

This means that we cannot harvest or manipulate ecosystems in such a way as to diminish their productive capacity, or threaten the natural diversity of life forms (biodiversity). This requires that we critically examine how we harvest renewable resources, and adjust our consumption and land-use practices to fall well within the regenerative capacities of ecosystems.

4. In order to meet the previous three system conditions, there must be a fair and efficient use of resources to meet human needs.

This means that basic human needs must be met with the most resource-efficient methods possible, including a just resource distribution.

For more information, visit The Natural Step's Web site: http://www.naturalstep.org

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