Development and Environment: Can We Avoid the Inevitable Trade-Off?

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Development and environment: can we avoid the inevitable trade-off? The either-or relationship between development and environment must be remedied before a permanent solution can be achieved By Neha Singh

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries saw great advancements in technology, resulting in tremendous improvements in the living conditions of human beings. The economies of many countries in the world literally ‘took off’ and have since not looked back. Thus a technology as simple as electric bulbs, as ubiquitous as mobile phones and as intricately complex as the internet, have all had a positive impact on society. Rising energy use reflects and contributes to improved human living conditions. However, the current scenario notwithstanding, human race is at a crossroads when it comes to the future. The twenty- first century is not something we have experienced before and hence there are no road maps for the impending years. The past does not necessarily hold answers to the problems of the future, quite the contrary, the past is what has brought us here. The environmental issues loom like Damocles’ sword ready to negate all the positives we have accumulated over the years. Despite the doom and gloom predictions by environmentalists, the political powers in many countries are yet to take concrete measures to curtail the damage done to the ecosystems we all depend on.

The change around us

Environmentalist Kenneth Boulding in 1966 coined the term ‘Spaceship Earth’. The central premise of his argument at that time was that there was one planet, of finite size, and that human demands on it could not rise indefinitely. People in space ships have to manage things very carefully if they are to survive. Boulding pointed out that almost everything we do is poorly adapted to that reality: our technologies focus on trivial things, our science asks the wrong questions and our society is not adapted to survival. The accumulation of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in...
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