JAEI ENVIRONMENTAL CORNER
2015 World Environment Day theme – “Seven Billion Dreams – One Planet! Consume with Care!” …. in other words … we need to live sustainably!!!
The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. Evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.
Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.
Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.
What Is Sustainable Living?
It is believed that the concept of sustainable living began in the 19th century, long before solar panels, geothermal energy, and renewable energy were even thought about. Before anyone wrote books about environmental issues, farmers began to realize that agricultural crops depleted the soil, unaware that crop rotation was the way to maintain the land.
The need for a sustainable development became more apparent as cities began to grow and resources began to diminish in quantity and value. In the early 1800s, some people began to develop personal lifestyles that were conservative and took into account environmental issues.
It was at this time, when the industrial revolution was taking place, when many observed the advancements in technology were coming at a great price to the environment. American Henry David Thoreau is considered the first person to write about sustainable development circa 1854.
Sustainable Living and Renewable Energy
Considering environmental issues, sustainable living is simply a lifestyle that attempts to use renewable products and to take as little from the earth as is humanly possible. The concept of reducing our carbon footprint in the world is the more modern way of looking at sustainable living because the world realizes that humans have not used resources wisely.
Solar Panels, Wind Turbines, and Green Energy
Instead of burning fossil fuels that will be depleted within short generations, alternative energy such as the wind turbine, solar panels, and other green energy sources need to be implemented to sustain and care for the resources that remain.
The definition of sustainable living means more today than when it was first considered almost 200 years ago. Back then it was to improve man’s conditions, today it is to maintain man’s functional society and protect the environment.
How Does a Sustainable Development Affect the Average Person?
An eco friendly way of life does not mean that people must live without any comforts or have any less fulfilling existences. In most cases, it means to use only what is necessary instead of wasting valuable resources, but it does come at a cost. This can be viewed as payback for all the times that limited resources were wasted for no good reason.
There are substantial investments required for solar panels, wind power, geothermal energy, and other alternative energy sources. It isn’t something that the government can buy for the public. What technologies are used is dependent on what best suits the conditions where a person lives. The wind turbine is great in flat areas where there is plenty of wind power to turn the turbines, but in some areas there is not enough sustainable wind to warrant the expense of the wind turbine. Many of the areas where wind turbines are not effective have plenty of sun, which makes the use of solar panels the ideal way to reduce the carbon footprint.
The use of geothermal energy is still in its infancy. Harnessing the natural heat from within the earth is not as easy as it sounds. Some authorities contend that the lifespan of a geothermal reservoir is limited, and once it cools down, it might not return for a very long time. It also requires deep drilling even to tap this source of natural and sustainable energy.
The geothermal heat pump works on a principle of using the natural controlled temperature just below the ground for lessening the demands on the standard system during times of extreme temperatures. This is the most viable use of the earth’s renewable heat and cooling capabilities at this time.
Sustainable Development Factors – Energy Consumption, Transportation, and Diet
The three factors in maintaining a sustainable development and lowering the carbon footprint that are most crucial are energy consumption, transportation, and diet. If you consider these three things, it is easy to see how reductions in fossil fuels are tied to them. Obviously, transportation taxes more on fossil fuel than anything else, but it is followed closely by heating, cooling, and electrical uses.
Diet concerns the agricultural products in the grocery stores. Moving food from one location to others costs a great deal in fuel use. Instead of getting produce from overseas in the wintertime, why not instead use available food sources in the areas where the buyers live? This significantly reduces the amount of fuel consumed and helps local industry at the same time.
Factors Necessary for Sustainable Living
For any endeavour to succeed, no matter what its purpose, there must be balance in the various factors that contribute to it. The three important and necessary factors involved in maintaining the earth are social, environmental, and economic, and the environmental factor affects both social and economic issues.
You cannot speak of one factor without considering how another is affected by it. Socially, any means to conduct oneself in a sustainable living style must be acceptable to the community in which it exists. It has to be non-invasive to the environment, which is the primary objective, and it has to be within the economic means of the person who does it.
Probably the hardest factor to initiate is the social one because so many refuse to budge upon their long standing, wasteful, and inefficient ways of living. Alternative energy strikes a disparaging chord for some people who believe that life can continue just the way it is no matter what the learned scholars may say or what conditions are evident indicating otherwise.
Future post: Some suggestions for living more simply.