Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sustainable Development 2

Thought I forgot about this one, didn't you?
Okay, what are some of the problems facing us and the generations to come?
Here's an overview provided by the American Council/United Nations University Millennium Project:
"Wildfires annually burn an area half the size of Australia and generate nearly 40% of total CO2 emissions. The cumulative volume of greenhouse gases produced by fossil fuel consumption over the next 50 years could more than double the output during the last 50 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates a 1.4-5.8 degrees Celsius warming by century's end, which could raise sea levels by 34 inches, changing human coastal settlements and melting the polar ice cap. Already, atmospheric CO2-which for 400,000 years fluctuated between 180 and 280 ppm-has reached 380 ppm. Only human activity can explain this change, says the US National Academy of Sciences. Three of the last five years were the hottest in recorded history, glaciers are receding worldwide, and global temperature changes threaten entire ecosystems, causing some species migration and having new consequences for human health. Climate change may threaten more than 1 million species with extinction by 2050. The legal foundations are being laid to sue for damages caused by greenhouse gases.

Humanity may have consumed more natural resources since World War II than in all of history prior to that time. Half the world's forests and 25% of the coral reefs are gone. Some 9.4 million hectares of forest area are lost annually worldwide. World leaders' declarations on sustainable development have not yet been matched by concerted actions for global change. The April 2004 meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development reinforced the need for strategic investments in water, sanitation, and human settlements to meet the commitments of the WSSD (World Summit on Sustainable Development). The synergy between economic growth and technological innovation has been the most significant engine of change for the last 200 years, but unless we improve our economic, environmental, and social behavior, the next 200 years could be difficult.

Next to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, unsustainable growth may well be the greatest threat to the future of humanity. Yet without sustainable growth, billions of people will be condemned to poverty, and much of civilization will collapse."

Let me repeat for emphasis, unsustainable growth may well be the greatest threat to the future of humanity. Yet without sustainable growth, billions of people will be condemned to poverty, and much of civilization will collapse.
In other words we are not getting the job done at the present time, and all we have is the present time to do the job, this is not a problem that can be "put off." The consequences of inaction are literally catastrophically unimaginable.
The over view above (I can't sum it up better, so I'm not even going to try) primarily concerns the use of natural resourses and climate change. Many problems exist including the use of pesticides and their accumulation in the environmental and the food chain, pharmaceutical poisoning in the human population (everyone since the 1950s have these drugs to some degree in their body), over fishing (a total of almost 80% of the world's fisheries are fully- to over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide about 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish stocks are already gone), air pollution (disregarding the effects of global warming. President Obama made this distinction in his State of the Union just last week), water shortages (experts are predicting that soon the number of people without access to clean drinking water will climb past 1 billion).
The problems that face us are... daunting, to say the least. The normal political tendency is to put off any systems that are likely to address these issues to a realistic measure. To that I say then the political process needs to be refined in such a way as to address these problems, and others that will inevitably face us in the future. It is my belief election reform in this country is one way to begin.
Other things that need to be done? Again, from the Millennium Project:
"The public has to be engaged through massive educational efforts via television, music, games, movies, and contests that stress the quality of human beings in harmony with nature along with what individuals and groups can do to change consumer behavior, initiate environmental tax reforms, and move from a fossil fuel economy toward a knowledge-consciousness economy. We should bring scientists and engineers from around the world together with new leadership from UN Global Compact corporations to stimulate investments into more-sustainable solutions; establish an environmental crimes international intelligence and police unit; create definitions and measurements for commonly applied tax incentives and labels for more environmentally friendly products; abolish environmentally inefficient subsidies; include environmental costs in the pricing of natural resources and products; invest in socially responsible businesses; spread the environmental standards ISO 14000 and 14001 (standards for environmental management systems) to more countries and companies; create an international public/private funding mechanism for high-impact technologies such as carbon sequestration or space solar power and for acquiring the rights to innovate "green" technologies; declare key habitats off-limits for human development; consider the establishment of a World Environment Organization with powers like the WTO; encourage synergy between environmental movements and human rights groups to make clean air, water, and land a human right; and demonstrate how to change complacency and consumption while increasing efficiency and improving living standards."
There are solutions within our grasp. It's up to all of us to reach out, for ourselves... and all of those who will come after us.

No comments:

Post a Comment