Essay - Economic versus Environmental Sustainability

Detailled essay

HideShow resource information
  • Created by: Millie
  • Created on: 02-04-13 08:48
Preview of Essay - Economic versus Environmental Sustainability

First 577 words of the document:

Discuss the development issue: `Economic sustainability versus environmental
sustainability'. (10 marks)
The world strives for a continuation of this economic growth as this factor is generally linked to
social development on surface level ­ as the economy grows, as does the standard of living.
However, in the face of a deteriorating environment and newfound evidence of climate change,
governments are beginning to fully comprehend that economic growth and environmental decline
are linked in a way that is unsustainable for the future. The term 'sustainable development' was
used by the Brundtland Commission which coined most oftenquoted definition of sustainable
development: "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability
of future generations to meet their own needs." economic sustainability is the term used to
identify various strategies that make it possible to use available resources to their best
advantage, whilst environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking action that
are in the interests of protecting the natural world. It seems with today's global economic
development at the cost of the welfare of the environment, the two do not easily go hand in
hand.
Historically there has been a close correlation between economic growth and environmental
degradation: as communities grow, so the environment declines. This trend is clearly
demonstrated on graphs of human population numbers, economic growth, and environmental
indicators. As we live now, our existence on earth is unsustainable in every sense of the word
economically, environmentally and socially. Mathis Wackernagel and colleagues conducted a
study in 1997 which calculated the area of land needed to provide natural resources and absorb
waste for various populations. It concluded that since the 1980s, we have been using more of
the planet's resources each year than can be regenerated in that year. This is in large part due to
our exponentially increasing numbers, which saw the human population at half a billion in 1650,
with the ability to double in 240 years, grow to 3.3 billion with the ability to double in 36 years.
Today, population figures stand at 7 billion and our consumption rates continue to soar as the
standard of living increases around the world. There is concern that, unless resource use is
checked, modern global civilization will follow the path of ancient civilizations that collapsed
through overexploitation of their resource base.
As of 2009, Indonesia was the largest producer of palm oil, surpassing Malaysia in 2006,
producing more than 20.9 million tonnes. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from fruit of
the oil palms. Palm oil's economic success (as of 2012, the annual revenue received by
Indonesia and Malaysia together, the top two producers of palm oil, is US$40 billion) has come
at the price of largescale deforestation, which has threatened critically endangered species such
as the orangutan and Sumatran tiger. All over the world we are seeing frightening levels of
deforestation. Between 2000 and 2010, the net annual loss of forests was around 13 million
hectares. Due to this, we are experiencing levels of species extinction unseen since the last
global mass extinction. Fossil records indicate that background rate should be 0.11 extinctions
per million species every year. It is now 100 to 1,000 times more than this. Loss of biodiversity
leaves terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems more vulnerable to climate and ocean acidity change,

Other pages in this set

Page 2

Preview of page 2

Here's a taster:

We need these species, as they may prove useful in medicine,
agriculture or industry and we need these systems as they provide us with valuable services,
such as nutrient cycling, waste management, water supply and atmosphere regulation.
Additionally, human processes have led to the conversion of "120 million tonnes of N2 from the
atmosphere per year into reactive forms." This pollutes waterways, coastal zones, accumulates
in land systems and increases contributes to the green house gas effect in its gaseous form.…read more

Page 3

Preview of page 3

Here's a taster:

China's second largest fresh water lake experienced a massive algae bloom, which ruined
a popular tourist destination and resulted in a water shortage for three million people for nearly
two weeks it was one of the first tipping points where China's planners began connecting the
dots between economy and ecology. Nationally, environmental complaints have sparked unrest
and even riots, to the alarm of the stabilityobsessed ruling Communist party.…read more

Page 4

Preview of page 4

Here's a taster:

Water scarcity and pollution will increase pressure to improve
wastewater treatment. Currently, large amounts of industrial contaminants are being put into
China's water supply. Water scarcity and the emerging policy response to it will increase the
cost of doing business in China. Smart companies will move fast to position themselves for
technological advantage, access to clean energy, avoidance of reputational risk, and
preparedness for policy change.
Governments worldwide have met at conferences, such as the Kyoto Protocol 1997,
concerned with the issue of environmental sustainability.…read more

Page 5

Preview of page 5

Here's a taster:

MEDCs (the countries which argue that more needs
to be done for the environment) in the first place. To illustrate this, 20% of Honduras' export
earnings are spent on debt repayment every year. Over 30% of Honduras' rainforest has been
lost since 1960, with more than 800km2 being lost every year for ranches, banana plantations,
small farms and fuel wood.…read more

Page 6

Preview of page 6

Here's a taster:

Even if we were to attempt to ensure that developing countries do not follow the same `carbon
lockin' path by establishing infrastructures based on renewable resource we would experience
considerable resistance. Renewable energy technologies have not experienced largescale
commercialization and are not mature commodity products. The strategy of adopting such
technologies in developing country is firstly, not promoted by the profitdriven multinational
corporations which conduct most energy technology transfer.…read more

Page 7

Preview of page 7

Here's a taster:

Streetlevel anger over the air
pollution that blanketed many northern cities this winter has spilled over into online appeals for
Beijing to clean water supplies as well, especially after the rotting corpses of more than 12,000
pigs found this month in a river that supplies tap water to Shanghai drew even more attention to
water safety.
Over recent decades, food production, resource use and pollution have increased exponentially,
driven by population and capital.…read more

Comments

Amber

While it is a really good resource, it's only 10 marks. No matter how much you write, you can only get a maximum of 10. There is no way you would write all this in the time allowed and do well on the other parts, so good for background but in an actual exam situation, this isn't going to happen.

Louisgeorgio

At a2 this is a 40mark essay i dont know what your on about amber 

Georgy1996

She did write (10 marks) to be fair :)

chelsie

Even if its a 40 mark essay, you would never write 7 pages in an hour... 

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all resources »