The human population is expected to double in the next 50 years, and the ever-growing global population needs vast amounts of food, energy and raw materials. We cannot continue to get our food, energy and raw materials in the way we do now without damaging the earth ‘s environment beyond repair. Pollution, deforestation, over-fishing, the impact of intensive farming and above all global warming will see to that. We need to find ways of improving food productivity, and getting our energy and raw materials in more sustainable ways.
Sustainable development means development which meets the needs of today’s population without harming the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In other words, growing enough food and sourcing our energy and raw material needs without doing irreversible damage to the environment. The table gives some examples of what this might mean in practice: Forestry:A sustainable approach would mean cutting down fewer trees, and replanting new trees to replace those that are felled.
Fishing:A sustainable approach means enforcing strict quotas on how many f each species can be caught by each country in each year, so that fish stocks stay at viable levels – something the European Union is now trying to do. Energy:Sustainability in energy means replacing non-renewable energy sources (fossil fuels) with renewable sources such as solar, water and wind generation. Economic development:A sustainable approach must be able to improve people’s standards of living – particularly in the developing world – while actually reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Agriculture:Sustainability in farming means producing a good quality, high yielding crop – while using fewer chemicals and fertilizers, and conserving local plant and animal communities. It might also involve greater reliance on local produce to avoid unnecessary transport pollution. The growing population and increasing standard of living is putting greater demands on the world’s resources. A bigger global population needs more resources. At the very least people need food and water supplies. Increasing standards of living uses more good and services causing resources to be used p faster.
Conservation and recycling provide for the future. Reducing demand for fossil fuels means they’ll last longer, and reduce the harmful effects of using them. E. G. Smaller cars with more efficient engines use less fuel; insulating lofts of houses reduces the use of heating fuel. Conserving the soil by preventing erosion will provide food for future generations. Recycling metals and paper means using less raw material and cuts energy use too. E. G. Metals and glass can be reclaimed from scrap cars; papers can be reprocessed into paper bags and toilet paper.
Sustainable use of resources relies on good stewardship:
- Resource conservation – using resources carefully to slow our consumption of them, e. G. Making cars and power stations more efficient so you use less fuel.
- Resource substitution – changing resources for more sustainable ones, e. G. Using recyclable aluminum instead of steel for making cans, or using wind power instead Of coal.
- Pollution control – limiting pollution to reduce problems like global warming and acid rain.
- Recycling – used to reduce the amount of waste produced as part of source conservation. From burning wood for warmth to solar powered muffin warmers, humans need energy.
We get it from natural resources converted into power supplies at power stations, usually in the form of electricity or gas. Fossil fuels have traditionally supplied most of our energy. They are a major source Of pollution and can’t be replaced. As fossil fuels have stared to run out, alternative sources of energy have been suggested. These energy sources use renewable energy so they won’t run out, but at the moment there are two big problems with their use: Alternative energy sources can’t produce as much power as fossil fuel power stations without being gigantic.
They can be very expensive. However, renewable energy sources are a lot better for the environment than fossil fuels. Acid rain is something else which is damaging nature and buildings. Acid rain production can be reduced in several ways. Sulfur dioxide can be removed from power station chimneys, but this process is expensive. Less sulfur dioxide will be produced if the demand for electricity is reduced, or if it’s generated using other production methods. Fitting catalytic converters to vehicle exhausts removes the oxides of nitrogen.
Limiting the number of road vehicles and increasing public transport would cut down on exhaust gas emissions. Pollution is also a global problem. There are many types of pollution: air, river, sea and land. Pollution also has many serious and harmful effects. Reducing pollution is an expensive business, and it means sacrifices like increased electricity bills for greener power stations and limited car use to cut exhaust emissions. Some people don’t want the hassle, but others are trying o convince them that something needs to be done.
Ordinary people are also making a difference to the environment by doing things such as buying organic food, buying cleaning products without unnecessary chemicals, recycling paper and other things, turning lights off, putting extra insulation and double glazing in their homes and driving their cars less. There are many other ways in which people can help the environment and many charities which want to as well. If everybody did all they could to help the environment, it would be a lot less damaged than it will be otherwise.