Global sustainability comes down to the study of the use of resources over time. There are many facets to this science, mostly relating technology and research advancement. Typically, sustainability is a measurement of how long something will last, often in the terms of a specific business or environment. Global sustainability focuses on the worlds as a whole and how individual resources are being exploited globally. In this case, rather than focus on one area, the world’s people are viewed as a collective sharing the finite resources available to them.
All issues of sustainability address one basic issue; how long a specific resource will last. In some cases, this resource is natural. Sustainability studies of mines, oilfields or water tables are quite common. In other cases, these studies focus man-made systems or markets. For example, how long a market for a product will persist or whether an older hotel has the price point and amenities to remain competitive.
When the focus is on global sustainability, the systems viewed are almost always natural. This science focuses on how long specific natural resource pockets will last or how current practices are influencing the future of an area. This could be as simple as estimating the amount of oil left untapped globally or as complex as charting water usage along hundreds of miles or kilometers of rivers and tributaries.
Global sustainability draws heavily on multiple sciences and areas of study. The most prevalent portion is the business aspect of the companies and governments using natural resources. This portion of the science attempts to understand the means, methods and motivations for business practices involving a studied resource. It is believed that by understanding the business aspect of the system, it will be easier to understand the rest.
Secondary to business are mathematics and anthropology. The mathematical portion of global sustainability works out the hard numbers, such as how much of a resource is left or how much of a resource is being used daily. These numbers are the framework that studies are built upon.
The anthropological aspect of global sustainability is less obvious. In order to understand how a resource is used and why it is exploited the way it is, it is important to understand the culture of the people using it. It is unlikely that three people from three parts of the world have the exact same views on how and why to exploit a natural system. By understanding the people, it is easier to divine what is happening currently and what will happen in the future.