Essay on Sustainability and Development

Topics: Sustainability, Natural environment, Nature Pages: 6 (1784 words) Published: October 30, 2014

The human civilisation has in several decades considerably changed the face of the Earth. Glaciers are melting, in Patagonia and on Mount Kilimanjaro; satellite image reveals the destruction and plundering of tropical forests, in Borneo and Amazonia; lakes and rivers have shrank – even disappeared - in Middle East and the Ural. The exploitation of finite resources and the lack of consciousness regarding the complex systems in which we live in have resulted in an impoverishment of the Earth’s ecosystem for the sole sake of our modern lifestyle and consuming societies. In order to clarify why humanity is slowly, since the middle of the 20th century, integrating the notions of sustainability to preserve and protect the natural environment, this essay will first discuss the fundamental principle that makes human and their environment interdependent: the unity of the living. Further, it will expose the prosperous future that sustainability represents as an alternative lifestyle and new model of development.

Before all, we must recognize that humans interact with their environment more than any other living beings on the planet and that this interaction often results in the ever-growing man made environment “crushing” onto the natural environment. Thereby, can humans still be considered natural? Even though humans are irrevocably a product of nature, “their ability to radically and consciously modifying the Earth and its biological systems” (Low et al, 2005) has raised a doubtful paradox in man being part of nature. As explained by Cronon there is a “dualistic vision” embodied in the concept of wilderness, nature at its most pristine and untouched state, in which humans are dissociated from the natural environment because they could lead to its fall (Cronon, 1995). However, any living being at any scale also interacts with their environment and in some way reshapes it. We build houses for our habitats just like termites build mounds, in both cases each species have used natural materials and manipulated them in order to achieve a certain purpose. Therefore, we need to clarify our position regarding humans being within nature. Evolution is for all living beings the one and only explication of life on our planet, regardless of any religious convictions. The theory of evolution explains the constant evolutionary process of our natural world. Livings are constantly reshaped and depending on each species the survival relies on natural selection, some species thrive when others fall (Darwin, 1859). According to Darwinism, humans are a specie that has evolved over millennia like any living organism. Therefore, humans and everything that emanate from them (the built environment) is a result of nature. It is logical then to assume that humans are in fact part of the natural environment.

Having considered that human and their creations, the man made environment, are within nature. It is understandable that they are part of a complex system and thus, there are interdependent relationships between them and those systems as well as bilateral effects on their environments and their environment on them.

Since the industrial revolution our impact on the natural environment has been constantly increasing. The main lifestyle in most of today’s societies are based on consumerism and consumption, this has altered the living habits and ethics. It may be more noticeable in the Western World but the pattern is repeated in a most of the countries. The emerging problem facing our modern societies is the impoverishment of our ecosystem and its finite resources that are crucial for the survival of mankind. Into the bargain, the United Nations estimates the world population will peak at 9.22 Billion in 2075 (United Nations, 2004). If population grows at the projected rate the world will struggle due to the growing scarcity of resources. Accordingly, the world’s population and especially those...
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