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Essay/Term paper: Sustainable development

Essay, term paper, research paper:  World History

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Sustainable Development

By the year 2200 there will be a lot more people living on this planet
then there are now. Estimates range anywhere from 15 to 36 billion people.
Where will these people live? How will they live? The answer is sustainable
development. Sustainable development, "meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. " It
also, "requires meeting the basic needs of all peoples and extending to them the
opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for a better life. A world in which
poverty is endemic will always be prone to ecological and other catastrophes."
Sustainable development is being ignored in Chile, the Philippines, and Siberia,
practiced in Madagascar and in Alaska, and examined in the Lake Baikal region of
Russia. These Countries must learn from each other's failures and success to
discover what sustainable development involves in their own country.
Sustainable development has three divisions, economic, environmental,
and social. If sustainability is to occur it must, meet these three divisions.
In Chile, none of these divisions is being met. Economically speaking, almost
40% of the population is poor and as a result many make a living directly from
the land clearing forests. In the IVth region of Chile, forest regions are
being depleted at an amazing rate. This depletion of the forest in this region
results in two main things, one, people must spend increasing amounts of energy
traveling to the site of present cutting and two, the removal of the trees over
time has lead to soil erosion and rapid desertification of the area. This soil
erosion also removes many nutrients from the soil making the land poor for
agriculture. The third division, social, is not met here either. The lack of
organizations to relieve the negative effects of poverty on the environment have
only contributed to the problem.
In the Philippines the environmental degradation is similar in nature
but more catastrophic in result. There in the province of Leyte 6000 people
were killed when flash flood ripped through Ormoc City in 1991. The floods
were a result of logging of a forest in that region and conversion of that area
into commercial farming practices such as sugarcane. This in itself did not
cause the floods, the conversion of the forest into farming left the heavy rain
from a typhoon with nowhere to go. Normally the forest would have stopped any
flash floods as it would have held the water let it out slowly, but with the
forests gone there was nothing to delay the water from exiting the system. The
economical effect of this that land and buildings were destroyed causing
millions of peso's worth of damage. The social impact is easy to discern, those
who lost loved ones, friends, and family can never get them back.
In Madagascar the same type of thing was happening. Locals were cutting
down the forest and planting rice and cassava. It was estimated that this
process of deforestation was costing the country between, "100 and 300 million a
year in decreased crop yields, the loss of productive forests and damage to
infrastructure." Something needed to be done, the government implemented a
plan to, "protect and improve the environment while working for sustainable
The approach integrates all aspects of sustainable development.
Socially, a public education programme explains why locals shouldn't cut down
the tree's and why it is economically more important that they don't.
Environmentally, the forests will not be lost now. And economically some
cutting is still down however it is sustainable cutting. New jobs were also
created in this program. In order to persuade villagers that this was the best
route to take, half of all fees paid by tourists to enter the parks within which
the forests are, go directly to development projects for the community. They go
to the community because of the "positive correlation between prosperity and
environmental quality. This means that the more prosperous you are the more
you can afford to clean up the environment. A poor country like Madagascar
could not possibly invest as much capital as Canada could into the reduction of
Air pollution or the clean up of contaminants in soil.
In the Russian north all aspects of sustainability were ignored. There
in part of Siberia that stretches from the Ural Mountains in the west to the
Novosibirsk in the south, [see appendix one, fig one] the environmental and
social divisions of sustainable development were ignored for the economical.
This region produces 78% of Russia's oil and 84% of it's natural gas. It also
happens to be rich in fish and reindeer, the principle resources of the Yamal
Nenets whom are the indigenous peoples of the area.
Under Stalin socialist plan of the 1930's, the Nenet's were forced to
change their traditional way of life – one that was completely sustainable – to
one based on collective farms. The children were put in state schools and lost
much of their traditional knowledge. The creation of the massive oil fields and
gas reservoirs were started. The pollution that these industries created in air,
land, and sea, destroyed any hope of ever going back to anything like their
traditional way of life. The massive plants took up to as much as a third of
the summer grazing grounds for the reindeer, and the Ob river has been severely
polluted from industrial centers in the south. The social aspect, that of
destroying way of life of the Nenet's, the pollution caused by the plants is the
disregard for the environmental aspect, and the economical aspect's importance
was, by far, outweighed in terms of the other two aspects in terms of planning.
In contrast the U.S. has developed a different policy in it's North.
Like Siberia, Alaska has a lot of resources centered environmentally sensitive
lands. Similarly, Alaska also has it's own indigenous peoples, the Iñupiat
Eskimo, who have, like the Nenet's traditionally had sustainable way of life.
The ancestral calving grounds of Porcupine Caribou Herd, one of the largest in
the world at 160000 animals, is located on the coastal plain of the Arctic
National Wildlife reserve. The Iñupiat herd these animals and require this
land to sustain their way of life. This also is the site for one of the largest
possible oil fields in North America and as such there is much debate on the
lands uses.
The Iñupiat want the money that the industry would bring in but fear the
environmental implications as well. In 1971, the U.S. Congress passed a native
land claims settlement act that meant that native groups had a much greater say
in the possible land uses. Following the passage of the act, the Iñupiat
formed the largest City in North America (in terms of Geography, see Appendix
One, fig. two), the North Slope Borough, and began to tax any oil revenue made
within the city. This revenue – in the millions of dollars – let the Iñupiat
live a modern lifestyle and still engage in their traditional subsistence
practices. The Iñupiat also retained a greater control over environmental rules
and regulations, which they used to make sure little pollution occurred. In
this example, all three aspects of sustainable development were used.
Economically, everyone made money, socially no group was adversely effected, and
environmentally there is little or no pollution, certainly nothing like that in
Sibe ria. Siberia may also be the place for trying a new method of sustainable
development. This new method created by George D. Davis hopes to be a, "rational
compromise between the economic needs of a people and the ecological needs of
their land." It employs a method of zoning an area or region as to it's
possible land use's. The area that this new method is being tested on is Lake
Baikal, the biggest, oldest, deepest repository of freshwater on the planet, one
fifth of the worlds total freshwater is found in Lake Baikal. This lake is
also home to more than 1800 species found nowhere else on the planet. To save
such an unique place on earth it was necessary to account for all three area's
of sustainability. This was accomplished by zoning the entire Lake Baikal
watershed into 25 different types of zones ranging from farmland to industrial
parks. A total of 52 million acres were set aside as parks, reserves,
greenbelts, and landscapes. As well as zoning the entire basin, an agreement
was struck to reduce and hopefully end the pollution that enters Lake Baikal's
watershed. In this way, not only was the environment saved, but so were peoples
jobs and thus the social and economic well-being.
The Lake Baikal zoning method is an example of how new methods of
sustainable development are always being created. Countries like Chile, the
Philippines, and Zimbabwe all can learn a lot from examples such as Madagascar,
the United States, and the zoning method in Russia. In fact all countries can
learn a lot from the success and failures of each other. In every successful
case of sustainable development the three aspects were met, economical,
environmental, and social. In every failure at least one or more was missing.
The lessons learned now can only help us as we enter the next millennia, and
over 15 billion people.


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