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Sustainability

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“Go Green” A Sustainable Development
Stacy Hohn-Sosa
DeVry University

Sustainable Development

“Go Green” is a slogan that is pushed on society with the intention to bring awareness to sustainability. In Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the issue of agriculture sustainability is presented. True sustainability is not just agriculture; it is all the natural renewable resources available in the world. Humans do not realized the amount of packaged products they consume in a day or the harmful chemicals that we pollute the earth with when we drive or apply them to agriculture. As consumers we look for convenient, cheap, and accessibility to minimize the time needed in order to perform everyday tasks. Until humanity grasps how these every day products are hazardous not only chemically but also on our natural resources; we as a people will continue to consume un-renewable resources. By increasing the concept of a sustainable development, humanity will use fewer nonrenewable resources such as petroleum’s and fossil fuels and rely on renewable resources such as solar energy. Without a defined structure of true sustainability; governments, corporations, businesses, companies and individuals will continue to depreciate the Earth’s natural resources until it is uninhabitable. “All definitions of sustainable development require that we see the world as a system—a system that connects space; and a system that connects time.”(EurActiv, 2004) Sustainability as referenced in Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma is referring to human sustainability. The use of sustainability in this form has yet to receive a true definition. In order to receive this it needs to be studied scientifically and factually. Once the studies are preformed and a conclusion to the research is established; sustainability can receive a mutually agreed upon definition. Until then all the living entities of the planet will continue to suffer from mankind’s fluctuating idea of sustainability. Without this set definition of sustainability each individual, corporation, government, and business will continue to operate as if there are no consequences to the ecosystem around them. Not having policies in place by all nations to protect our natural systems of sustainability will not only affect that region, but other countries and cities not in that local vicinity. Acid rain can travel thousands of miles from where it first began gathering. It falls in the form of snow, rain, and humidity causing health and eco issues when consumed not only by humans but also by other living organisms. Toxic waste flows down streams and rivers affecting the ecosystems that live along them and then into the oceans. The more pollutants that are released into the air are contributing to global warming; the melting of the Polar Ice Caps and the continued erosion of the biosphere. Burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation emits about 8 billion tons of carbon dioxide in to the atmosphere per year. The packaging that of products used for the everyday lifestyle has increased by 400 percent in the last 20 years. Toxins in the products we use and the foods we consume, such dyes in our clothes, plastics in the toys and bottles, pesticides on our foods and chemical additives added to our processed foods have contributed to the increase of diseases like cancer. If a halt to these practices is not put into place by agreeing on a definition and then followed by a policy protecting our natural resources that we take advantage of now; the planet will not be able to sustain the future of humanity. It is not hard to figure out how humanity ruptured into the age of modernization and never considered the consequences of the actions that have pushed us beyond our sustainable means. During the Industrial Revolution (1780 to 1850) every aspect of life was influenced in one way or another. The invention of machines promoted mass production in everything from textiles and building materials to farming and electrical power. As these businesses boomed the material standards of living skyrocketed. Populations and incomes increased at a substantial rate. The advances and manufacturing of medicine pushed life expectancies to top levels. With each passing century technology evolved into what we experience today. With this success rate it is no wonder the environmental degradation was ignored. Businesses, corporations, and even some countries perceive “Going Green” as an impediment to their bottom line. They have been successful in the way they do business for years and are afraid that making the necessary changes in order to create a more sustainable development will hinder their profits. Through the exploitation of our natural resources these companies have established a world economy based on the consumption of the Earths minerals, oceans, rivers, forests, land and agriculture. They have not stopped to evaluate the extended damage that is being done by not using renewable resources or putting company policies into place to help replenish what they have consumed. They perceive adjustments in the way they do business would affect their profitability. Humanity has developed a mentality that more is better especially when it comes to funding. They do not take into consideration that the actions of a company take away precious commodities with the consumption of the natural resources. Until these companies can realize that even though they have to spend some of their profits they will in turn reap future profits in replacing what has been taken. Although all companies have the ability to become more conservative in the way they fulfill their production obligations, industries relying solely on the extraction of natural resources have a more difficult time maintaining a sustainable company policy. Petroleum companies find it easier to continue to pump oil and gas and refining this product than to encourage post processed companies to recycle used oils and gasses and having to re-refine them. It is easier for companies that produce building products for lumber and companies the produce paper goods to purchase raw materials from the logging industries than encouraging the recycling of these products through demolition or a used paper collection system. Mining companies continue to strip precious metals from the earth by demolishing natural ecosystems instead of gathering and reprocessing the metals left behind from abandoned cars, house hold appliances and machinery that are no longer used by large companies. Fisheries extort seafood and fish from the ocean, lakes, and rivers faster than these creatures can replenish themselves. Agricultural businesses’ find it easier to raise crops and livestock in mass productions having to force hormones, antibiotics and pesticides for continued to growth. With the way these industries continue to devour these resources, sustainability continues to become further away from the grasp of reality than most humans believe to be attainable. Mankind had its first bought with pollution in the late 1800’s. The consumption of fossil fuels in England rose dramatically and a “fog” from the burning of coal loomed over London. This “smog” as it was later defined, caused of an epidemic of respiratory disease. By 1952 the air quality in London was so bad that a toxic cloud that was trapped over the city killed 4000 people. This incident caused the government to begin looking into pollution control. At about the area people observed that forests and agriculture located near industrial areas were deteriorating. In 1872 Robert Angus Smith, an English Scientist, was able to prove that the pollution in the atmosphere was the cause of Acid Rain. It was not until the 1960’s that scientist begun studying and understanding the full effects of this detrimental occurrence. Once the true aspect of pollution was revealed and the damage it was causing was confirmed; the United Nations was force to begin it’s acknowledgement in the critical situation that mankind had put the planet in. Sustainability of the planet was first expressed at a United Nations Conference in 1972. Americas Earth Day events on April 22, 1970 brought to light the global concerns of regional pollution. This event was the beginning of the Sustainability Revolution that we are experiencing today. This event helped establish United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and many of the national environment protection agencies that a prevalent in civilized nations. These programs prohibited the disposal of hazardous materials through burning, dumping or underground storage. The “out of site out of mind” mentality to the disposal of toxic waste was halted. Although these disposal methods were quick and easy for corporations to manage their waste costs, the long term adverse effects were not known until 20-100 years after they began the dumping of these products. The revolution began to gain momentum in the 1980’s. The World Commission on Environment and Development was established by the UN to establish strategies for achieving a sustainable development by the year 2000. Their goal was to set a mutually cooperative goal for developing countries with environmental effects acknowledged through the industrialization process, introduce effective ways communities can become proactive in environmental concerns and establish a defined strategy for protecting and renewing the environment. As these studies proceeded, a core of contemporary sustainability was established: The Three E’s. They are Ecology, Economy, and Equity. Ecology is the first E and is acknowledged as the most important concept of sustainability. Knowing the natural environment of species that are among the ecosystem and how each subject coexists with each other is the first step in becoming a sustainable development that will ensure the future of generations to come. Economy is to establish long-term employment opportunities without harming the environment. Equity encourages a community amongst neighbors. With individuals contributing to the development of a sustainable development they become interdependent. All three of these E’s are held together by Education. Without the learning of our bio system we would continue down the path of destruction. These three E’s have helped establish a mutually agreed upon goal as a planet. With them a definition can then be established and policies for eco-friendly production will then correspond with the true sustainability of Earth. With this definition the United Nations can establish a true sustainability and provided policies that will verify that every nation on this planet operates efficiently and effectively in the laws that maintain true sustainability. If these laws or policies are not maintained sever consequences will be in place regarding the infraction. As the initiative began growing amongst humanity, companies are beginning to take into consideration that consumers are looking for “Green” products. As the demand for a more ecological and environmentally friendly product became requested, corporations and businesses have begun to turn to a more sustainable production practice. Through technology and efficient work practices sustainability became more than an idea it became a goal for mankind. With the realization that non-renewable resources such as petroleum based product such as gas, diesel, plastics, and some pesticides are becoming nonexistent the race is on to find new technology that uses renewable resources such as solar and wind energy for helping homes, businesses, corporations and automobiles operate efficiently. By replacing or reestablishing areas that have suffered from the ravage of processes such as logging, mining, farming and fishing, companies would have to take monies from their profit to reinvest into the natural resource they have consumed. With this reinvestment the company becomes profitable for years to come. Companies that are marketing toward a sustainable development have many advantages when drawing consumers and employees to the products or services they provide. By focusing not only on efficiency and profits, but by providing a healthy and environmentally friendly work environment, these businesses have seen substantial consumer loyalty. Consumer loyalty creates a successful business. By investing in sustainable business practices these companies are seeing saving in energy consumption, the production of better products, and the reduction in cost associated with waste disposal. Sustainable business also reduces risk hazards, such as toxic or environmentally unfriendly wastes which in turn reduces insurance fees, legal liability, strict government regulations and fines associated with not operating with in code. Quality employees are attracted to these companies. They contribute supportive visions and values to produce a more efficient and ecological company. With motivated employees companies are better managed, they promote the products or services and are able to make them shine when place with similar items or offers. Marketing becomes cheaper due to free public relations in the form of articles in newspapers or magazines and even television interviews. Companies can become more sustainable by using renewable resources to produce their products, reducing their waste, and using energy sources provided by solar or wind power rather than coal or petroleum. Imagine a world where cars and homes are ran on the gathering of UV rays or the heating processes from solar energy. In an environment where our farmers grow our food in a more ecological way using the natural ecosystem of these animals and crops to produce a more nurturing natural product. Environments were the decomposition of the packaging of everyday products takes days to breakdown rather than years. All of these ideas are achievable through the production and use of natural ingredients available through renewable resources. Now as we advance scientifically as community, we are learning new ways to unlock the availability on renewable resources every day. As humanity becomes more knowledgeable in how to be a sustainable development, the planet and all it has to offers begins to contribute to filling our needs rather than just our wants. Establishing recycling programs for every landfill, company, neighborhood, and individuals would drastically reduce the need for producing more waste products. Reclaiming wood and metals for secondary uses instead of producing more of these products will also reduce landfills and the energy to produce these items new. Without making these investments in a sustainable development our planet and the future of this planet is in grave danger of becoming extinct.

Bibliography

EurActiv (2004). Sustainable Development: Introduction. Retrieved on: 2012-12-04

United Nations (Aug 2005) Sustainable Development: Innovation Briefs Issue 5. Retrieved on 2012-11-24, Washington DC

United Nations (May 2009) Sustainable Development: Innovation Briefs Issue 7. Retrieved on 2012-11-24, Washington DC

Edwarads, A. R., The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift, (2005) New Society Publishers, Canada

Princen, T., The Logic of Sufficiency, (2005) Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts

Schendler, A., Getting Green Done (2009) Publicaffairs Books, New York

Senge, P., Smith, B., Krushwitz, N., Laur, J., Schley, S., The Necessary Revolution, (2008) Double Day, New York

Pollan, M., The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, (2006) Penguin Group, New York

EPA (March 2012), Acid Rain in New England Retrieved 12/13/12 from http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/acidrain/history.html

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