Lifestyle Sustainability Handout12
In a perfect ecosystem everything gives and takes equally, and the cycle of life is sustained perpetually. Our current lifestyle is not environmentally sustainable. We consume more and more of the earth’s resources and give very little, if any, in return. The Brundtland Commission defines lifestyle sustainability as being development that “seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future.” Many factors are contributing to how humankind uses the earth’s resources and how humankind views the goal of sustainability.
Public opinion, government intervention, and manufacturers seem to have the largest influence in determining how the earth’s resources are used. In order to create a sustainable society, all of these factors must work in conjunction with one another in the utilization of technology and resources to insure that the same resources will be available to future generations.
Mankind has always sought to control its environment. While most species must deal with the world as it is, man has the ability and the desire to change and adapt the environment to suit its needs. If it’s too hot, then a way must be found to be cool. If there isn’t enough shelter, it must be built.
If there isn’t enough food, it is produced. If there are other creatures that are regarded as pests, they are eliminated. Many of the efforts to control these environmental factors are made at the expense of destroying the biosphere upon which mankind depends.
Every person on earth puts a strain on the biosphere and the earth’s population is increasing exponentially. Scientists predict that by the year 2050 mankind will top 10 Billion people. “Vital Resources are stressed by the dual demands of increasing population and increasing consumption per person.
Around the world we see groundwater supplies being depleted, agricultural soils being degraded, oceans being over-fished, oil reserves being drawn down, and forests being cut faster than they can re-grow,” (Nebel and Wright, 2000, p. 6).
The largest percentage of the world’s population lives in developing countries. These developing countries oftentimes have not established environmental controls in their manufacturing and farming techniques. For example, the use of DDT, long since banned for use in the United States, still sees widespread use in many developing Nations. The use of DDT is dangerous not only to insects, but also to the entire food chain, of which man is unavoidably a part.
This is not to say that developed countries are not polluting. In fact, many times it is the developed countries that are exploiting the environment intentionally for personal or commercial gain. The U.S., for example, is the world’s number one producer of garbage and industrial waste. “The 6% of the world’s population living in the U.
S. uses an estimated 25 to 50% of the world’s nonrenewable resources and produces about 15 to 40% of the world’s waste. (Sustainable America, 1996:143)
Despite the fact that most countries do have constraints and limits set for pollution, they are still a long way from being environmentally friendly. Pollution comes in many forms: air, water, and land. Air and water resources can and should be considered global resources. The misuse of these is not localized due to the fluid nature of air and water which are constantly circulating and affecting not only the producer of the pollution, but also its global neighbors.
While creating these pollutants, many times there is also a negative impact on sustainability in that there is a consumption of non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels. The current trend of urban sprawl is causing the earth’s resources to be used at an unsustainable rate while also contributing to pollution. Urban sprawl is “the rapid expansion of metropolitan areas through building housing developments and shopping centers farther and farther from urban centers and lacing them together with more and more major highways. Widespread development that has occurred without any overall land-use plan.“ (Nebel and Wright, 2000, p. 648).
Given that urbanization causes a loss of habitat, air pollution, land pollution, water pollution and a drain on non-renewable resources it is one of the largest threats to sustainability. If the trend is not reversed, the cycle that occurred with .