Sustainable development is about many things which are not directly comparable. For example, it is not possible to quantitatively weigh development against health and environment. The dilemma is that a field between elements that have different measures, and apparently do not belong together, cannot be balanced. This means that the incapability to balance incompatible issues renders current concepts of sustainability inadequate.
The Maastricht Treaty of the European Union does not codify sustainable development, only "sustainable growth respecting the environment".
Due to the prevailing western bias towards energy and matter at the expense of issues of life and time, so much of what is currently discussed as sustainable development is described in terms of physical and economic measures such as capital, output, area, and so on, rather than human capital, community values, ecosystem stability and the like. This materials/energy thrust has produced an enormous and indiscriminate shedding of energy at all levels, which remains as accumulated entropic debts of many kinds which cannot be invisibly passed on to future generations. Despite this, remedies for unsustainable development are seen in terms of boosting the unchecked proliferation of technology and subsidies for continuing generation of entropy, rather than entropy sinks. There has been an abdication of instinct and common-sense. Essential matters of value and quality, which are undefinable by accepted measures, have been omitted. The key to sustainable development remains insoluble for as long as the elements are seen within the lower order of cybernetics in which they are incompatible with one another. There is a need to reach higher orders of complexity.