Do We Live in a Sustainable Society?|
MMCC Winter 2012SCI 200George Gilmore|
There are many ways to define sustainability and to answer the question of whether we live in a sustainable society you should first define the question. The simplest definition of what a sustainable society is still very complex. A society that can persist over generations, one that is farseeing enough, flexible enough, and wise enough not to undermine either its physical or its social systems of support (Hubbard, 1996).
Other sources label the question as an environmentally sustainable society that satisfies the basic needs of its people without depleting or degrading its natural resources and thereby preventing current and future generations of humans and other species from meeting their basic needs (Answers.com). Many people have struggled to define sustainability and sustainable communities. Trying to define sustainability is like trying to define democracy, justice and other important principles that guide our society. On a global setting this task of creating a sustainable society should be the first thing each government around the world addresses, however, in most cases this subject is far too low on the list of priorities. This economic boom we have witnessed the past decade was the results of a generation that pushed for economic growth as a means to improving humanity's condition, now the world realizes that economic development is pointless if it destroys its environmental base that fuels it. The start of economic development created factories, automobiles, and waste that pollutes the world's air, water, and soil, decimates forest and natural resources, and creates toxic wastes and overflowing landfills. Our government has already seen the importance of protecting select areas from this type of economic growth and has made millions of acres of land protected from any development. The world is finding out quickly that if we continue with the same approaches that created these problems then we will have environmental problems for future generations. Sustainable development is a far-reaching approach to repair and avoid these problems. The idea of sustainability is an ongoing process and something that will take decades to achieve. The want for an increased quality of life and to preserve the environment for present and future generations is apparent around the world. After all, what good are jobs and a strong economy if we do not have a habitable planet to put them on? The problem is not if we want to, but how can we. To covert from our current life style and economic base without destroying it seems near impossible. Communities around the country are demonstrating that it is indeed possible to increase economic and community well-being in ways that promote a healthy environment. So what is the process that will lead us to a future of sustainability? Resource efficiency is an essential foundation of sustainability. Communities can significantly reduce environmental impacts and improve the economy by using energy, water and materials more efficiently, and by using better manufacturing techniques that cut pollution, waste and production costs. Current U.S. energy use demonstrates the enormous potential presented by resource efficiency. We can easily reduce current energy use with existing cost-effective technologies. Energy efficiency is one of the most direct ways to address air pollution, acid rain, smog, climate change, oil spills, scarred landscapes and all the other environmental harms associated with the production and consumption of energy. The U.S. uses the 2nd most electricity annually in the world, China being number one (Heimbuch, 2011). China, however, has four times our population and average power per person is three times lower than the U.S (Heimbuch, 2011). We live in this society that takes something as simple as electricity for granted....