Environmental Issues Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Sustainable Development Compatible With Human Welfare?

Julie L. Davidson, from "Sustainable Development: Business as Usual or a New Way of Living?" Environment Ethics (Spring 2000)

Researcher Julie argues that a radical conversion to sustainable development offers a way to make future humans freedom possible and consistent with the wider social and ecological good.

There are many logical points made to consider sustainable development. The main argument or weighting factor is freedom for the use of the environment's resources over future generations to come along with generations of many other ecosystems which will prolong the existence of the human race, and their social needs.

NO: Jacqueline R. Kasun, from "Doomsday Every Day: Sustainable Economics, Sustainable Tyranny," The Independence Review (Summer 1999)

NO: Economics professor Jacqueline R. Kasun asserts that sustainable development poses threats to human freedom, dignity, and material welfare. How does it pose a threat to human freedom?

Student's point-of-view / Justification

In the realm of sustainability can one only live on the existence of the present? Is that the question? Yes, individuals can only in the context of perception in societal ways. However, is that the path, we as individuals want to follow? Do we take the radical approach and use mother earth as our own, whenever and wherever needed. Or is it more likely that we take the conservative approach in which we utilize mother earth's resources and they replenish. I would rather take the conservative approach when it comes to ecosystems, the earth's atmosphere, and water processing to enhance the quality of social living among individuals in rural and urban areas. On the other hand, I would contemplate using the radical approach when discussing advances in technology to clean up waste and further energy uses in the manufacturing and business sector. How can we make this work? One cries for moderation of the earth's resources and the other cries we do not have enough. Sustainability is taking our freedom, dignity and material possessions from us. Does that really make us human or does it constitute greed, gluttony and selfishness.

Where do you draw the line? I would rather live on a subsistent lifestyle. For example, the Yamana Indians in South America have a subsistent lifestyle to the extent to which their ecosystems are intact and reliable for consistent daily nourishment through farming, or hunting for wild boar and sea lions. They also use fishing as a way to catch food. They survived from the land by taking care of their surroundings, and through farming practices, which create fertile ground for plant and harvesting crops. This lifestyle gives the Yanomana human freedom, dignity and material welfare. Who will live longer the one who creates an environment in which saves existing plants, animals and their surroundings and its content, humble and serene or the one who depletes resources faster than they can reproduce in which makes one happy and satisfied? Would this give us greater social freedom and economical good? No, that is called instant gratification. However, in a societal way, one might be stereotyped as an environmental crook to the extent that they are using the environment's resources for an immediate economical gain to further one's wealth and abusing many ecosystems, which are a necessity for living. For example, one can be perceived as an economical environmentalist, which no one can be allocated extra resources until they have been re-supplied or replenished to normal levels. Moreover, moderating resources does not constitute the lack of material welfare, dignity or human freedom but it creates the path for sustainable development. Sustainable development is the correct path for ecological and societal welfare.

A concept of sustainable development must remedy social inequities and environmental damage, while maintaining a sound economic base. These are the requirements for sustainable development to benefit human welfare. Consequently, it is essential to come to terms with the vital importance of sustainability in the global environment.

Firstly, the conservation of natural capital is essential for sustainable economic production and intergenerational equity. Market mechanisms do not operate effectively to conserve natural capital, but tend to deplete and degrade it.

Secondly, from an ecological perspective, both population and total resource demand must be limited in scale, and the integrity of ecosystems and diversity of species must be maintained.

Thirdly, social equity, the fulfillment of basic health and educational needs, and participatory democracy are crucial elements of development, and are interrelated with environmental sustainability. Taken together, these principles clearly suggest new guidelines for the development process. They also require a modification of the original goal of economic growth. Economic growth, especially for those who lack essentials, is clearly needed, but must be subject to global limits and should not be the prime objective for countries already at high levels of consumption. As Alan Durning has suggested, a moderate level of consumption, together with strong social institutions and a healthy environment, represents a better ideal than ever-increasing consumption.1

Guided markets may often be useful tools for achieving specific environmental goals, and there is an extensive economic literature on "internalizing externalities" so as to reflect environmental costs and benefits in the market.2 But in a broader perspective, it is the social and institutional processes of setting social and environmental goals and norms, which must guide sustainable development policy.

Therefore, goal setting in these areas such as, conservation, social equity and ecological perspective will not cause harm but rather create longevity in humans and other organisms in all ecosystems. For example, the Yanomana Indians live on a subsistent life style to the extent to which their ecosystems are intact and reliable for consistent daily nourishment through farming, or hunting for wild boar and sea lions.

We can use sustainability development to promote human freedom, material welfare and the dignity of people in society rather than destroying our global surroundings and inhabitants by using the radical approach of greed, gluttony and instant gratification of human activities.

The sustainable development is by and large the phenomena that speak in favor of preserving human and non-human elements of nature while in the way of making progress for the human needs and demands. We cannot, thus, overlook what the human needs and wants are as we cannot overlook, in the same way how these needs and wants makes endangered living for the future generations to come. But the idea of sustainable development in true course of events, and in true literary meaning does ensure that the material possessions of the nature would not be harmed, rather actions would be in the way in preserving the Mother Nature. The economic prosperity is directly linked with the sustainable development and the issue that the sustainable development threatens the human dignity and freedom, may be right if perceived from one point-of-view. However, if the issue of human dignity and material freedom is viewed through many standpoints, then the idea may be negated. This is true when the concept of material freedom is taken in to consideration. The future generations do get a share of the environment that we enjoy today in the course of sustainable development. But we must also not ignore the hue and cry that the political intentions of the one proclaiming the sustainable development is a better way to give the future generations their true share of the environment. Under this notion come the intentions of many who give the idea of economic restructuring. By economic restructuring the supporters of sustainable development approves of the sound systems of productions and consumptions that must entail human autonomy that in turns may yield sound human welfare system and communities that would in turn speak of the past and present perspectives. However, under these assumptions comes the challenges of ethics, that I have talked earlier about in terms of political intentions. The ethical challenges may be very difficult to meet under the political intentions of many sustainable development supporters. Then, under this situation comes the issue of compatibility of sustainability with human and non-human development to create a welfare ecosystem.

Hence, what seems in reality is that we, in this present time, are reacting to the theme of sustainable development and the efforts in this direction are merely a reaction to the changing environmental conditions. Any arguments in this regard may be useless as we are approaching a paradigm shift where things ought to happen, and may it better be by way of sustainable development.

Reference Page

Durning, Alan (1992). How Much is Enough? The Consumer Society and the Future of Earth. Worldwatch Environmental Alert Series (Linda Starke ed.). New York and London: W.W.Norton.

See, for example, Anil Markandya and Julie Richardson eds. (1993). Environmental Economics: A Reader, Part III: Instruments for Environmental Control and Applications. New York: St. Martin's Press.

Davidson, L. Julie, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues. Ed. Theodore, D. Goldfarb. State University of New York at Stony Brook McGraw-Hill/Duskin, 2001.

Kasun, R. Jacqueline, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues. Ed. Theodore, D. Goldfarb. State University of New York at Stony Brook:…

Sources Used in Document:


Harrison, Paul, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues. Ed. Theodore, D. Goldfarb. State University of New York at Stony Brook McGraw-Hill/Duskin, 2001.

Hartmann, Betsy, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Environmental Issues. Ed. Theodore, D. Goldfarb. State University of New York at Stony Brook: McGraw-Hill/Duskin, 2001.

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