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Sustainable development


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Sayef Amin
Southeast University
LLB(Hons) Program

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Sustainable development

  1. 1. SOUTHEAST UNIVERSITY DEPT. OF LAW & JUSTICE Course Title: International Environment law COURSE CODE: LLBH 4211 Date of Submission: 23.04.2012
  2. 2. Assignment On Sustainable development (SD):Introduction of Sustainable development (SD):Sustainable development (SD) is a pattern of economic growth in whichresource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment sothat these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations tocome (sometimes taught as ELF-Environment, Local peoples. The term,sustainable development was used by the Brundtland Commission whichcoined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainabledevelopment as development that "meets the needs of the present withoutcompromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."Sustainable development ties together concern for the carrying capacity ofnatural systems with the social challenges faced by humanity. As early as the1970s, "sustainability" was employed to describe an economy "in equilibriumwith basic ecological support systems."Ecologists have pointed to The Limits to
  3. 3. Growth, and presented the alternative of a "steady state economy" in order toaddress environmental concerns. The concept of sustainable development isoften broken out into three constituent parts: environmental sustainability,economic sustainability and sociopolitical sustainability.Green development is generally differentiated from sustainable development inthat Green development prioritizes what its proponents consider to beenvironmental sustainability over economic and cultural considerations.Proponents of Sustainable Development argue that it provides a context inwhich to improve overall sustainability where cutting edge Green Developmentis unattainable. For example, a cutting edge treatment plant with extremely highmaintenance costs may not be sustainable in regions of the world with fewerfinancial resources. An environmentally ideal plant that is shut down due tobankruptcy is obviously less sustainable than one that is maintainable by thecommunity, even if it is somewhat less effective from an environmentalstandpoint. However, this view depends on whether one determines that it is thedevelopment (the plant) which needs to be sustainable, or whether it is thehuman-nature ecology (the environmental conditions) in which the plant existswhich should be sustainable. It follows, then, that an operational but heavilypolluting plant may be judged as actually less sustainable than having no plantat all.Sustainable development (SD):"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the presentwithout compromising the ability of future generations to meet their ownneeds." It contains within it two key concepts:  the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the worlds poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and  the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environments ability to meet present and future needs." Economic Sustainability: Agenda 21 clearly identified information, integration, and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognizes these interdependent pillars. It emphasizes that in sustainable development everyone is a user and provider
  4. 4. of information. It stresses the need to change from old sector-centered ways of doing business to new approaches that involve cross-sect oral co- ordination and the integration of environmental and social concerns into all development processes. Furthermore, Agenda 21 emphasizes that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.  According to Hasna Vancock, sustainability is a process which tells of a development of all aspects of human life affecting sustenance. It means resolving the conflict between the various competing goals, and involves the simultaneous pursuit of economic prosperity, environmental quality and social equity famously known as three dimensions (triple bottom line) with the resultant vector being technology, hence it is a continually evolving process; the journey (the process of achieving sustainability) is of course vitally important, but only as a means of getting to the destination (the desired future state). However, the destination of sustainability is not a fixed place in the normal sense that we understand destination. Instead, it is a set of wishful characteristics of a future system.  Sustainable development is said to set limits on the developing world. While current first world countries polluted significantly during their development, the same countries encourage third world countries to reduce pollution, which sometimes impedes growth. Some consider that the implementation of sustainable development would mean a reversion to pre-modern lifestyles "The word sustainable has been used in too many situations today, and ecological sustainability is one of those terms that confuse a lot of people. You hear about sustainable development, sustainable growth, sustainable economies, sustainable societies, and sustainable agriculture. Everything is sustainable (Temple, 1992).History of the concept:The concept of sustainable development was originally synonymous with that ofsustainability and is often still used in that way. Both terms derive from theolder forestry term "sustained yield", which in turn a translation of the Germanterm ―nachhaltiger Ertrag‖ is dating from 1713.[ According to different sources,the concept of sustainability in the sense of a balance between resourceconsumption and reproduction was however applied to forestry already in the12th to 16th century.
  5. 5. ‗Sustainability‘ is a semantic modification, extension and transfer of the term‗sustained yield‘. This had been the doctrine and, indeed, the ‗holy grail‘ offoresters all over the world for more or less two centuries. The essence of‗sustained yield forestry‘ was described for example by William A. Duerr, aleading American expert on forestry: ―To fulfill our obligations to ourdescendents and to stabilize our communities, each generation should sustain itsresources at a high level and hand them along undiminished. The sustained yieldof timber is an aspect of man‘s most fundamental need: to sustain life itself.‖Not just the concept of sustainable development, but also its currentinterpretations have its roots in forest management. Strong sustainabilitystipulates living solely off the interest of natural capital, whereas adherents ofweak sustainability are content to keep constant the sum of natural and humancapital. The history of the concept of sustainability is however much older.Already in 400 BCE, Aristotle referred to a similar Greek concept in talkingabout household economics. This Greek household concept differed frommodern ones in that the household had to be self-sustaining at least to a certainextent and could not just be consumption oriented.The first use of the term "sustainable" in the modern sense was by the Club ofRome in March 1972 in its epoch-making report on the ‗Limits to Growth",written by a group of scientists led by Dennis and Donella Meadows of theMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Describing the desirable "state of globalequilibrium", the authors used the word "sustainable":"We are searching for a model output that represents a world system that is: 1.sustainable without sudden and uncontrolled collapse; and 2. capable ofsatisfying the basic material requirements of its entire people."Environmental sustainability:Environmental sustainability is the process of making sure current processes ofinteraction with the environment are pursued with the idea of keeping theenvironment as pristine as naturally possible based on ideal-seeking behavior.An "unsustainable situation" occurs when natural capital (the sum total ofnatures resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished. Sustainabilityrequires that human activity only uses natures resources at a rate at which theycan be replenished naturally. Inherently the concept of sustainable developmentis intertwined with the concept of carrying capacity. Theoretically, the long-term result of environmental degradation is the inability to sustain human life.Such degradation on a global scale could imply extinction for humanity.
  6. 6. Economic sustainability:The Venn diagram of sustainable development shown above has manyversions,but was first used by economist Edward Barbier (1987). However,Pearce, Barbier and Markandya (1989) criticized the Venn approach due to theintractability of operationalizing separate indices of economic, environmental,and social sustainability and somehow combining them. They also noted thatthe Venn approach was inconsistent with the Brundtland Commission Report,which emphasized the interlinkages between economic development,environmental degradation, and population pressure instead of three objectives.Economists have since focused on viewing the economy and the environment asa single interlinked system with a unified valuation methodology (Hamilton1999, Dasgupta 2007). Intergenerational equity can be incorporated into thisapproach, as has become common in economic valuations of climate changeeconomics (Heal,2009).Ruling out discrimination against future generations andallowing for the possibility of renewable alternatives to petro-chemicals andother non-renewable resources, efficient policies are compatible with increasinghuman welfare, eventually reaching a golden-rule steady state (Ayong le Kama,2001[ and Endress et al.2005).Thus the three pillars of sustainable developmentare interlinkages, intergenerational equity, and dynamic efficiency (Stavins, etal. 2003).Arrow et al. (2004) and other economists (e.g. Asheim,1999 and Pezzey, 1989and 1997) have advocated a form of the weak criterion for sustainabledevelopment – the requirement than the wealth of a society, including human-capital, knowledge-capital and natural-capital (as well as produced capital) notdecline over time. Others, including Barbier 2007, continue to contend thatstrong sustainability – non-depletion of essential forms of natural capital – maybe appropriate.Feature of Sustainable Development:The challenge that sustainable development poses for policy is somewhatdifferent to many other policy problems. In part, differences derive from themultifaceted nature of sustainable development and the emphasis given to thewelfare of future generations. Policy that focuses on a single issue – saytransportation – has impacts that flow into other domains of policy. If we turnthe problem around and consider externalities associated with transportationthen instrument choice can potentially spill over into many units of government.Thus a unit of government designed to deal with transport may not beadequately set up to deal with the externalities associated with transport.Differences also follow from the emphasis given to sustainable development as
  7. 7. a process of change in which exploitation of resources, the direction ofinvestments, the orientation of technological development and institutionalchange are made consistent with the future as well as present needs.Obviously, sustainable development policy should be based on institutions anddecision-making structures that lead to sustainable outcomes. Clearly, it is notpossible to design an optimal set of instruments if the end-state cannot bespecified. More importantly, it is imperative that policy choice be guided byeconomic efficiency. If we dismiss economic efficiency as a criterion for policyanalysis then we run the risk of stifling economic growth and compromisingenvironmental quality. In Section 2 we used the efficiency framework toanalyze a range of policy instruments. Where possible empirical evidence wasused to establish their relative performance. Table 2 summarizes the keyconcepts of sustainable development.Elements of Sustainable Development: Environment, Society andEconomyA key feature of sustainable development is that it comprises three elements:Environment, Society, Economy. Or, if you like, the three Ps: Planet, People,Profit. All three, in no particular order, are balanced so that one doesn‘t destroyanother.A sustainably run fishing community would go something like this: They‘re environmentally responsible: they don‘t overfish, so preserve breeding stocks for next year. They‘re socially responsible: they make sure the fish they do catch generate jobs within the community. They‘re economically responsible: they stay in profit.Sustainable development emphatically does not mean a return to some sort ofpre-industrial lifestyle. It‘s about getting a better quality of life, not worse. Thekey is to use technology to help us to achieve sustainable development, not usesustainable development as a reason to shun technology. It means you can useyour car, enjoy central heating, and wash your clothes and dishes by machine.You just do it in such a way that you‘re not wasting anything, that everything isre-used or recycled, that everything is developing sustainably.Of course we know it‘s not that simple. All round Ireland, we‘re depleting fishstocks. The reasons are complex but boil down to this: people have to overfishbecause of overfishing. There are too many factory ships chasing too few fish tosell too cheaply. Sustainable development is all very well, but, in essence, are
  8. 8. the politicians going to subsidise trawlers not to catch fish in order to give thema job in the next decade?Also, no government is able to do much about changing our unsustainable wayof life if we continue to be passive, apathetic consumers. For example, theIsland‘s transport system - it favours cars over public transport because, frankly,most of us want it that way. If the motor lobby says that reducing car use willcost jobs, and if car use keeps going up, it will be a brave MP/TD who dares toput through anti-car legislation. (Of course, there is also a counter argument thatwhen, and until, public transport improves, things will not change anyway.)Anyone can see that it‘s unsustainable - but it‘s up to us to do something aboutit.So what can we do? Well, as the waste hierarchy goes, we could start withminimising waste: print only when necessary (and always double sided), storecopies of e-mails electronically, and take the stairs more often. Also, we couldre-use or recycle. But although these are important first steps, they cansometimes seem a bit insignificant. Even if you diligently recycled every letter,brochure and factsheet you received, it would still only amount to saving a twigor two. If everyone does it, of course it becomes significant: new markets canbecome viable for using recycled plastic, glass, paper, clothes and lasercartridges.Three types of capital in sustainable development:The sustainable development debate is based on the assumption that societiesneed to manage three types of capital (economic, social, and natural), whichmay be non-substitutable and whoseconsumption might be irreversible. Daly(1991), for example, points to the fact thatnatural capital can not necessarily besubstituted by economic capital. While it ispossible that we can find ways to replacesome natural resources, it is much moreunlikely that they will ever be able to replaceeco-system services, such as the protectionprovided by the ozone layer, or the climate stabilizing function of the
  9. 9. Amazonian forest. In fact natural capital, social capital and economic capital areoften complementarities. A further obstacle to substitutability lies also in themulti-functionality of many natural resources. Forests, for example, not onlyprovide the raw material for paper (which can be substituted quite easily), butthey also maintain biodiversity, regulate water flow, and absorb CO2.Another problem of natural and social capital deterioration lies in their partialirreversibility. The loss in biodiversity, for example, is often definite. The samecan be true for cultural diversity. For example with globalization advancingquickly the number of indigenous languages is dropping at alarming rates.Moreover, the depletion of natural and social capital may have non-linearconsequences. Consumption of natural and social capital may have noobservable impact until a certain threshold is reached. A lake can, for example,absorb nutrients for a long time while actually increasing its productivity.However, once a certain level of algae is reached lack of oxygen causes thelake‘s ecosystem to break down suddenly.Market failure:If the degradation of natural and social capital has such important consequencethe question arises why action is not taken more systematically to alleviate it.Cohen and Winn (2007) point to four types of market failure as possibleexplanations: First, while the benefits of natural or social capital depletion canusually be privatized the costs are often externalized (i.e. they are borne not bythe party responsible but by society in general).Second, natural capital is often undervaluedby society since we are not fully aware ofthe real cost of the depletion of naturalcapital. Information asymmetry is a thirdreason—often the link between cause andeffect is obscured, making it difficult foractors to make informed choices. Cohen andWinn close with the realization that contraryto economic theory many firms are not perfect optimizers. They postulate thatfirms often do not optimize resource allocation because they are caught in a"business as usual" mentality.Business case for sustainable development:The most broadly accepted criterion for corporate sustainability constitutes afirm‘s efficient use of natural capital. This eco-efficiency is usually calculated
  10. 10. as the economic value added by a firm in relation to its aggregated ecologicalimpact. This idea has been popularized by the World Business Council forSustainable Development (WBCSD) under the following definition: "Eco-efficiency is achieved by the delivery of competitively priced goods andservices that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressivelyreducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life-cycle to alevel at least in line with the earth‘s carrying capacity."Similar to the eco-efficiency concept but so far less explored is the secondcriterion for corporate sustainability. Socio-efficiency describes the relationbetween a firms value added and its social impact. Whereas, it can be assumedthat most corporate impacts on the environment are negative (apart from rareexceptions such as the planting of trees) this is not true for social impacts. Thesecan be either positive (e.g. corporate giving, creation of employment) ornegative (e.g. work accidents, mobbing of employees, human rights abuses).Depending on the type of impact socio-efficiency thus either tries to minimizenegative social impacts (i.e. accidents per value added) or maximize positivesocial impacts (i.e. donations per value added) in relation to the value added.Both eco-efficiency and socio-efficiency are concerned primarily withincreasing economic sustainability. In this process they instrumentalist bothnatural and social capital aiming to benefit from win-win situations. However,as Dyllick and Hockerts point out the business case alone will not be sufficientto realize sustainable development. They point towards eco-effectiveness, socio-effectiveness, sufficiency, and eco-equity as four criteria that need to be met ifsustainable development is to be reached.Sustainable agriculture:Sustainable agriculture may be defined as consisting of environmentally-friendly methods of farming that allow the production of crops or livestockwithout damage to human or natural systems. More specifically, it might be saidto include preventing adverse effects to soil, water, biodiversity, surrounding ordownstream resources -- as well as to those working or living on the farm or inneighboring areas. Furthermore, the concept of sustainable agriculture extendsintergeneration ally, relating to passing on a conserved or improved naturalresource, biotic, and economic base instead of one which has been depleted orpolluted.Elements of sustainable agriculture:  Agro forestry:
  11. 11. According to the World Agro forestry Centre, agro forestry is a collective namefor land use systems and practices in which woody perennials are deliberatelyintegrated with crops and/or animals on the same land management unit. Theintegration can be either in a spatial mixture or in a temporal sequence. Thereare normally both ecological and economic interactions between woody andnon-woody components in agro forestry.  Mixed FarmingMany farmers in tropical & temperate countries survive by managing a mix ofdifferent crops or animals. The best known form of mixing occurs probablywhere crop residues are used to feed the animals and the excreta from animalsare used as nutrients for the crop. Other forms of mixing takes place wheregrazing under fruit trees keeps the grass short or where manure from pigs isused to feed the fish. Mixed farming exists in many forms depending onexternal and internal factors. External factors are: Weather Patterns, MarketPrices, Political Stability and Technological Development. Internal factorsrelate to Local Soil Characteristics, Composition of family and Farmer‘sIngenuity. Mixed Farming provides farmers with a) an opportunity to diversifyrisk from single-crop production; (b) to use labour more efficiently; (c) to havea source of cash for purchasing farm inputs; (d) to add value to crop or crop by-product; (e) combining crops and livestocks.  Multiple Cropping:The process of growing two or more crops in the same piece of land, during thesame season is called Multiple Cropping. It can be rightly called a form of polyculture. It can be – (a) Double Cropping (the practice where the second crop isplanted after the first has been harvested); (b) Relay Cropping (the practicewhere a second crop is started along with the first one, before it is harvested).  Crop Rotation:The process of growing two or more dissimilar or unrelated crops in the samepiece of land in different seasons is known as Crop Rotation. This process couldbe adopted as it comes with a series of benefits like – (a) avoid the buildup ofpests that often occurs when one species is continuously cropped; (b) thetraditional element of crop rotation is the replenishment of nitrogen through theuse of green manure in sequence with cereals and other crops; (c) Crop rotationcan also improve soil structure and fertility by alternating deep-rooted andshallow-rooted plants; (d) it is a component of poly culture.
  12. 12. Criticisms of Sustainable Development:The concept of "Sustainable Development" raises several critiques at differentlevels.Consequences:  The retreat of Aletsch Glacier in the Swiss Alps due to warming.John Baden views the notion of sustainable development as dangerous becausethe consequences have unknown effects. He writes: "In economy like inecology, the interdependence rule applies. Isolated actions are impossible. Apolicy which is not carefully enough thought will carry along various perverseand adverse effects for the ecology as much as for the economy. Manysuggestions to save our environment and to promote a model of sustainabledevelopment risk indeed leading to reverse effects." Moreover, he evokes thebounds of public action which are underlined by the public choice theory: thequest by politicians of their own interests, lobby pressure, partial disclosure etc.He develops his critique by noting the vagueness of the expression, which cancover anything. It is a gateway to interventionist proceedings which can beagainst the principle of freedom and without proven efficacy. Against thisnotion, he is a proponent of private property to impel the producers and theconsumers to save the natural resources. According to Baden, ―the improvementof environment quality depends on the market economy and the existence oflegitimate and protected property rights.‖ They enable the effective practice ofpersonal responsibility and the development of mechanisms to protect theenvironment. The State can in this context ―create conditions which encouragethe people to save the environment.‖Vagueness of the term:  A sewage treatment plant that uses environmentally friendly solar energy, located at Santuari de Lluc monastery.Some criticize the term "sustainable development", stating that the term is toovague. For example, both Jean-Marc Jancovici and the philosopher Luc Ferry
  13. 13. express this view. The latter writes about sustainable development: "I know thatthis term is obligatory, but I find it also absurd, or rather so vague that it saysnothing." Luc Ferry adds that the term is trivial by a proof of contradiction:"who would like to be a proponent of an ―untenable development! Of course noone! The term is more charming than meaningful. Everything must be done sothat it does not turn into Russian-type administrative planning with ill effects."sustainable development has become obscured by conflicting world views, theexpansionist and the ecological, and risks being co-opted by individuals andinstitutions that perpetuate many aspects of the expansionist model.BasisSylvie Brunel, French geographer and specialist of the Third World, develops ina qui profited le development durable (Who benefits from sustainabledevelopment?) (2008) a critique of the basis of sustainable development, withits binary vision of the world, can be compared to the Christian vision of Goodand Evil, an idealized nature where the human being is an animal like the othersor even an alien. Nature – as Rousseau thought – is better than the human being.It is a parasite, harmful for the nature. But the human is the one who protects thebiodiversity, where normally only the strong survive.Moreover, she thinks that the core ideas of sustainable development are ahidden form of protectionism by developed countries impeding the developmentof the other countries.For Sylvie Brunel, sustainable development serves as apretext for protectionism and "I have the feeling that sustainable development isperfectly helping out capitalism"."De-growth"The proponents of the de growth reckon that the term of sustainabledevelopment is an oxymoron. According to them, on a planet where 20% of thepopulation consumes 80% of the natural resources, a sustainable developmentcannot be possible for this 20%: "According to the origin of the concept ofsustainable development, a development which meets the needs of the presentwithout compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,the right term for the developed countries should be a sustainable de-growth".For several decades, theorists of steady state economy and ecological economyhave been positing that reduction in population growth or even negativepopulation growth is required for the human community not to destroy itsplanetary support systems, i.e., to date, increases in efficiency of production andconsumption have not been sufficient, when applied to existing trends in
  14. 14. population and resource depletion and waste by-production, to allow forprojections of future sustainability.Measurability:In 2007 a report for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated: ―Whilemuch discussion and effort has gone into sustainability indicators, none of theresulting systems clearly tells us whether our society is sustainable. At best,they can tell us that we are heading in the wrong direction, or that our currentactivities are not sustainable. More often, they simply draw our attention to theexistence of problems, doing little to tell us the origin of those problems andnothing to tell us how to solve them.‖Nevertheless a majority of authors assumethat a set of well defined and harmonized indicators is the only way to makesustainability tangible. Those indicators are expected to be identified andadjusted through empirical observations (trial and error) see also ecologicalfootprint.The most common critiques are related to issues like data quality,comparability, objective function and the necessary resources. However a moregeneral criticism is coming from the project management community: How cana sustainable development are achieved at global level if we cannot monitor it inany single project?The Cuban-born researcher and entrepreneur Sonia Buenos suggests analternative approach that is based upon the integral, long-term cost-benefitrelationship as a measure and monitoring tool for the sustainability of everyproject, activity or enterprise. Furthermore this concept aims to be a practicalguideline towards sustainable development following the principle ofconservation and increment of value rather than restricting the consumption ofresources.Ecologically sustainable development:Ecologically sustainable development is the environmental component ofsustainable development. It can be achieved partially through the use of theprecautionary principle, namely that if there are threats of serious or irreversibleenvironmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as areason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation. Alsoimportant is the principle of intergenerational equity, namely that the presentgeneration should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of theenvironment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations; the
  15. 15. conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity; and improvedvaluation, pricing and incentive mechanisms, namely that environmental factorsshould be included in the valuation of assets and servicesSustainable forest management (SFM):Sustainable forest management (SFM) is the management of forests accordingto the principles of sustainable development. Sustainable forest managementuses very broad social, economic and environmental goals. A range of forestryinstitutions now practice various forms of sustainable forest management and abroad range of methods and tools are available that have been tested over time.The "Forest Principles" adopted at The United Nations Conference onEnvironment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 capturedthe general international understanding of sustainable forest management at thattime. A number of sets of criteria and indicators have since been developed toevaluate the achievement of SFM at both the country and management unitlevel. These were all attempts to codify and provide for independent assessmentof the degree to which the broader objectives of sustainable forest managementare being achieved in practice. In 2007, the United Nations General Assemblyadopted the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests. Theinstrument was the first of its kind, and reflected the strong internationalcommitment to promote implementation of sustainable forest managementthrough a new approach that brings all stakeholders together.Sustainable land management:In a wider context the term sustainable land management is used in soil andenvironmental protection, in preservation of ecosystem services and mineralextraction. Sustainable is also used in property and estate management as wellas regional planning. Strictly speaking (in a wider /opposite context) the term―sustainable land management‖ is applied in forestry (this is where it comesfrom originally), agriculture, land surveying and in combination with land usemanagement.Sustainable fishery:A conventional idea of a sustainable fishery is that it is one that is harvested ata sustainable rate, where the fish population does not decline over time becauseof fishing practices. Sustainability in fisheries combines theoretical disciplines,such as the population dynamics of fisheries, with practical strategies, such asavoiding overfishing through techniques such as individual fishing quotas,curtailing destructive and illegal fishing practices by lobbying for appropriate
  16. 16. law and policy, setting up protected areas, restoring collapsed fisheries,incorporating all externalities involved in harvesting marine ecosystems intofishery economics, educating stakeholders and the wider public, and developingindependent certification programs.Some primary concerns around sustainability are that heavy fishing pressures,such as overexploitation and growth or recruitment overfishing, will result inthe loss of significant potential yield; that stock structure will erode to the pointwhere it loses diversity and resilience to environmental fluctuations; thatecosystems and their economic infrastructures will cycle between collapse andrecovery; with each cycle less productive than its predecessor; and that changeswill occur in the tropic balance (fishing down marine food webs).