Jul 18

Sustainable Development – Can We Balance Sustainable Development With Growth To Help Protect us From Ourselves?

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Sustainable Development - Can We Balance Sustainable Development With Growth To Help Protect us From Ourselves?

Sustainable Development is not a term that is mentioned too often in our fast paced throw away society. Is it posted and shared allover Facebook like Justine Beiber or some other trending topic, no. Should it be, probably, as we need it moving forward as much as we need water and food for survival. Population growth alone dictates that we must adopt this philosophy on a massive world-wide scale, not to mention climate change and the effects it will impose on our planet and us in the future.


Deforestation in Amazon Rain Forest

The term sustainable development was derived out of the environmental conservationist movement of the 1970’s, and asks us to question how we will preserve the Earth’s resources and how our decisions affect the Earth’s environment as a whole, not just our own backyards so to speak. We should question what happens when we wipe out an entire forest and carbon sink to not only that forest but to the entire planet and it’s eco-systems. To use an example here, 2.5 billion tons of CO² are added to the atmosphere as a result of deforestation which is a major contributor to global warming and climate change.

Sustainable Development

Easter Island

Easter Island

The term actually was first used in the older forestry industry although they called it sustained yield dating back to the German term “nachhaltiger Ertrag” dating back to 1713. The term and concept, according to different sources, also can be traced back to the forestry industry as far back as the 12th to 16th centuries. They incorporated the concept of sustainability in the sense that a balance between resource consumption and reproduction should be maintained. For the inhabitants on Easter Island however, unfortunately they never embraced this concept of sustainability. This poses a serious concern to us, will we wind up like the inhabitants of Easter Island, only in this case our island is the planet Earth, and will we, proverbially speaking, as caretakers of this planet, cut down the last tree in spite of ourselves?

This is why we need to develop a strong sense of sustainable development and use it in not only our everyday lives, but in planning for the future as well, for the future is now, and the path we take today can serious alter the future for either good or bad. If we take good steps today towards sustainability, that will lead to a better future, however if we choose to take bad, unproductive, unsustainable steps today, that can lead to a future that is not so good, and one which we may seriously regret at some point in the future.


3 Pillars of Sustainability

There are several different aspects of sustainable development which can and should be considered here. There is a new concept called a Green Economy, in which it encompasses the three pillars of sustainability, and takes these into consideration in the form of environmental sustainability, socially just, and local.

Sustainable Development Green Economy Model

Sustainable Development Green Economy Model

Sustainability Green Economy

Sustainability Green Economy

Some of the other concepts that derive from sustainable development are:

Environmental Sustainability



Environmental sustainability is concerned with the process of making sure that the current interactions with the environment are pursued with the intent of keeping the environment as pristine as naturally possible. Unsustainable situations occur when the natural capital (combined natural resources) are used faster than they can be replenished.

Sustainability requires that human interactions with the environment only use that natural resource at rates that are sustainable, and in which those resources can be replenished naturally. The concept of Sustainable development thus is inherently intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity. In theory, the long-term results of environmental degradation are the inability to sustain human life, and as such, this degradation on a global scale could result in extinction for humanity.

How many of us remember the threat of the cold war and nuclear Armageddon? Well now we are proceeding forward with the mass environmental degradation that was previously mentioned which also could lead to humanities demise, and again, we are to blame.

Economic Sustainability


Matrix Pyramid Sustainability

Again, here we refer to the Green Economy, and the three pillars of sustainability. There are differing opinions on this, and we will find that most of the disagreements with this type of economy are the ones with the most, and who prefer things just the way they are as the status quo. They probably will never grasp the concept of sharing and fear de-growth, or the ability to not be able to accumulate infinite amounts of wealth, and ultimately the power that goes along with it, however that is another story entirely.

Sustainable Agriculture

Sustainable Agriculture can be translated as simply as using environmentally friendly methods of farming that allow for the production of crops and/or livestock without damaging the farm as an ecosystem. It also takes into consideration the adverse effects on soil, water supplies, bio-diversity, or other surrounding natural resources. In essence it considers the use of existing farming techniques that have been proven to be good for both the environment and the farmer such as mixed farming, agroforestry, multiple cropping and crop rotation.

Sustainable Development Criticisms

Some regard this as dangerous because the consequences have unknown effects like John Baden, chairman of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment who wrote:

“In economy like in ecology, the interdependence rule applies. Isolated actions are impossible. A policy which is not carefully enough thought will carry along various perverse and adverse effects for the ecology as much as for the economy. Many suggestions to save our environment and to promote a model of ‘sustainable development’ risk indeed leading to reverse effects. Moreover, he evokes the bounds of public action which are underlined by the public choice theory: the quest by politicians of their own interests, lobby pressure, partial disclosure etc. He develops his critique by noting the vagueness of the expression, which can cover anything . It is a gateway to interventionist proceedings which can be against the principle of freedom and without proven efficacy. Against this notion, he is a proponent of private property to impel the producers and the consumers to save the natural resources. The improvement of environment quality depends on the market economy and the existence of legitimate and protected property rights. They enable the effective practice of personal responsibility and the development of mechanisms to protect the environment. The State can in this context “create conditions which encourage the people to save the environment.””

How the rich are destroying the Earth for their own personal gains

How the rich are destroying the Earth for their own personal gains

Not to undermine Mr. Baden or the foundation, but funding comes from such entities as ExxonMobil, the GE Fund, John Williams Pope Foundation (Ties to Americans for Prosperity Foundation aka Tea Party et al Anti-Environment), The Lily Endowment, The Claude R. Lambe Foundation (controlled by Charles Koch), The Carthage Foundation, the Castle Rock Foundation, and others. Most of the conservative philanthropy funders from the group are an oxymoron, as they fund anti-environment policies yet are supposedly environmentalists? Come on man! The only thing they are funding is their own agenda, and it doesn’t have any concern for the environment or you or me for that matter. I guess that old money is still tightly tied to the baron robbers that made it in the first place, however they apparently are being more covert in their actions these days.

Sinar Mar Report Cover

Sinar Mar Report Cover

OWS Protestor in Canada

OWS Protestor in Canada

Back to the point of the matter. In 2007 a report written for the EPA concluded the following;

“While much discussion and effort has gone into sustainability indicators, none of the resulting systems clearly tells us whether our society is sustainable. At best, they can tell us that we are heading in the wrong direction, or that our current activities are not sustainable. More often, they simply draw our attention to the existence of problems, doing little to tell us the origin of those problems and nothing to tell us how to solve them. Nevertheless a majority of authors assume that a set of well-defined and harmonized indicators is the only way to make sustainability tangible. Those indicators are expected to be identified and adjusted through empirical observations (trial and error).”

Kids Project - Sustainable Development

Kids Project - Sustainable Development

While sustainable development remains a controversial topic, it should not go forgotten. We truly need to adopt this philosophy into all our enterprises and endeavors. We have made some strides forward, but we need to regard this as one of the, if not the most important aspect we must consider when moving forward. Let us not wind up like our friends from Easter Island, let us learn from their mistake and not allow it to happen to our island planet Earth! Peace my friends!

1 comment

  1. Bafundi Tshingana
    living and non living organism needs to be protected against human actions. people must be educated and awareness is key.

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