Every country of the world is working towards becoming a developed nation and those already developed are constantly trying for new advancements to create an overall evolved planet. We are bringing latest technologies, improving our infrastructures and building stronger economies to top the race of development. But often in this process of advancement and betterment we tend to neglect our planet earth and what effect the course of development is going to have on it. Development is certainly a positive step ahead but what about sustainability? When we add the word “sustainable” ahead of “development”, a lot of meanings change and things acquire a different perspective.
“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
This is how United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defines sustainable development as. Though there are many other ways in which this term can be described. Sustainable development is the economic development without the depletion of natural resources. When we talk about sustainable development we have to think that during the course of development whether our actions are in any manner causing harm to the environment or if we are using up all the natural resources leaving none for the generations to come. Ideally one is supposed to replace equal or greater amounts of all the resources used during the action of development. If you are cutting down a tree to use up in a paper manufacturing plant then two more shall be planted in place of it. The idea of sustainable development suggests that each one of us holds a responsibility towards the planet and we are in no way the sole owner of the resources provided to us.
Sustainable Development works on three basic principles.
The whole planet is a connected system over space
This simply means that harm caused to an ecosystem in one part of the world gets reflected in other parts of the world as well. If rigorous and careless methods of development are practiced then condition of the whole planet gets deteriorated and not just one place. Our planet doesn’t work region by region or nation by nation like the way mankind tends to work. But the earth is a connected sphere and one needs to be concerned about its overall health and quality. When serious and complex issues like air pollution, ozone layer depletion, resource depletion, land degradation or global warming hit all the regions get affected by it. Therefore we need to start thinking of our planet as a whole system connected to space.
The whole planet is a connected system over time
Just like the actions and operations of the mankind affect more than one region, it also affects more than one period. The situations we are facing today are consequences of decisions made and actions taken by our ancestors. Their methods of agriculture, resource extraction, manufacturing, etc. did not just have consequences on their quality of life but ours too. Be it benefiting or suffering but their choices of life have had a toll on us too and so will our choices have on the generations to come. These choices can be technological, economic or political.
The whole planet is a connected system over the quality of life.
Our quality of life largely depends upon the strategies and ways of development being implemented by the people above us. If the correct policies are not made, and methods of development are not verified keeping sustainability in mind, then the quality of life for all the living organisms on this planet will decline.
When we talk about the resources available to us on this planet then they can be categorized into two groups- renewable and non-renewable. The renewable resources are the natural resources like sun, wind, rain etc. These can be replenished and we do not need to worry about them getting all used up. But the non-renewable resources are available to us only in limited amounts. Once they vanish from the face of earth it is nearly impossible to get them back. Fossil fuels, natural gas, coal and oil come under this category. A major portion of our energy requirements is met through the consumption of these resources and going by the current expenditure mankind is making these natural resources won’t last for more than fifty to sixty years. This is why we need to look for alternate methods of energy production and bring to use more and more renewable resources rather than the limited and non-replenish-able ones.
This is how this can be done:-
Use of solar energy
There is a variety of reasons why using solar energy in place of conventional energy is a smart and an eco-friendly choice. First of all the energy, we are receiving from the sun is infinite. Unlike other natural resources like coal, natural gas, and petroleum, the solar energy isn’t going to end anywhere shortly. Moreover, it is free of cost. Only the installation of solar plants can hit your pockets but using solar energy instead of buying electricity from a utility company helps to save enough money.
Use of wind energy
Just like solar energy, wind energy is another form of alternate energy that is endlessly available and is a clean source of energy. The wind energy can be used to spin the blades of a wind mill from which a generator can be powered, and electricity can be produced. Wind mills can be set up anywhere, and it makes absolutely no contribution to the greenhouse gasses or air pollution in any manner.
Use of hydroelectricity
Hydroelectricity has been a popular choice among all the alternate sources of energy for some years now, and its use should be even more encouraged as water is also a renewable resource and using it to generate electricity is extremely cost efficient.
Use of geothermal energy
We are familiar with the fact that the core of the earth is extremely hot with its temperature being around 4000 degree Celsius. Now we do not need to reach the exact core but drilling up to three miles off the crust can also give us enough heat to use for geothermal plants. In a geothermal plant, the internal heat from the earth is used to steam up water that rotates the turbines and generates electricity. Unlike coal and natural gas, the internal heat of the earth isn’t going to deplete in the future years.
The above-discussed energy sources are called the alternate sources of energy, and all of these use renewable sources of energy. Since the limited sources are not used in these techniques, all of them are for sustainable development. Moreover, the alternate sources of energy also do not cause any harm to the environment. They do not pollute the environment or pose threats of other serious and complex environmental issues.
Another important step in the action plan of sustainable development is sustainable construction. Sustainable development can be defined as construction aimed at meeting the housing and other infrastructure needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their housing and other infrastructure needs. It also encourages the use of renewable resources and recycled materials that can be used for construction purposes. Again these alterations are cost efficient as well as environment-friendly.
Sustainable is one of the most talked about topics in the present global scenario. But unless the true meaning of this word is understood and required strategies and plans are implemented our planet will keep moving towards a dark and scary end. All the growth and development we make needs to be absolutely organized and well thought about. The interconnectedness of nature and its organisms has to be recognized and appreciated. Each one of us needs to be aware of how sustainability is an outright requirement and how we can work towards achieving it.