Consider a simple idea describing the time, space and relationship scales of survival. Engineering has been going along with the current paradigm that growth in wealth and material consumption can continue through innovation and technology development. The proposed survival continuum concept represents a new way to think about sustainability that has clear implications for influencing engineering projects in all fields. The argument for survival as the driver for adaptation is developed sequentially, building on theory, definition, examples and history. The key idea is that sustainability will be effectively addressed by a new engineering discipline furthering development of the field of safety engineering with longer time scale, broader space scale and more complex relationship scale. The implication is that the past 100-year development of safety engineering can be leveraged to fast-track the inclusion of sustainability risk management throughout the entire engineering profession. The conclusion is that a new, interdisciplinary field, Transition Engineering, is emerging as the way our society will achieve sustainability-safety through rapid reduction in fossil fuel use and reduction in detrimental social and environmental impacts of industrialization.