Environmental SustainabilityProfessor: William SullivanPaper # 1 Changes today There is no doubt whatsoever that climate change is a big issue when it comes tosustainability discussions. The earth climate has changed, and is changing very fast. That’s whatwe read in newspapers, learn at school and see specialists talking about. The idea of climatechange have been spread all over the world, we even see people walking streets saying “Thissummer was hotter than it used to be.”, or “This year rained much more than the regular average.That’s a global warming effect”. In our everyday life we are quite used to this relative newconcept.But, what causes these changes? How can we play a role helping society to overcomethis new scenario? The main challenges when it comes to climate changes are populationgrowth, slow environmental response and international stalemate. Human activities produce a great impact on earth, so population growth means morepeople depending on earth resources. The global increases in carbon dioxide, methane andnitrous oxide concentrations (greenhouse gases) are due primarily to fossil fuel use, land usechange and agriculture, main activities of countries today. Scenario that might get worse aspopulation grows. Not only population has increased, but also wehavea bigger product demandas our life quality has changed. Although some nations are presenting decreasing birth rates,many others are in fast increase, and that is a trend to persist for some decades.
Another very important issueis thatecosystems usually have a slow response toenvironmental changes. Not all changes that we have made in the environment are being felt byearth’s ecosystems. Some of these changes will only have visible impact many years from now.Oceans are a great example of that slow response. In the past years oceans temperature haveincreased less than other ecosystems, but twice as much warming is expected for the future. Thisslow response is also seen when corrective actions are implemented, the environment take sometime to show a positive impact of these actions. That fact makessolutions planning very difficultto policy makers, as their actions may only have an impact several generations from now. The last great challenge to be overcome is the international stalemate when discussingalternatives to climate change. Climate conferences, seeking global cooperation to minimize theeffects of environmental pollution, did not generate effective results yet. Usually, they onlyreproduce the economic confrontation between world powers for greater production andconsumption. One example is the relationship between the U.S. and China. China stands out asthe U.S. effort should be higher because it is a developed country and the economic foundationhas stabilized. In the other hand, the U.S. claims that China is a competitor by unfair trade goodswith quite currency devalued against the U.S. dollar. The stalemate continues when developingnations claim for solutions. Countries like Brazil, India and Russia insist that agreements of theKyoto Protocol, which sets targets for reducing carbon emissions, should be renewed. Developedcountries refuse to renew until new agreements are made that include developing nations incarbon emission targets. Therefore, already established agreements may be lost and newsolutions end up being harmed by individual commercial interests. Finally, although many doubts about climate changesstill remain, there is much evidencethat it is real. Wealready got used to this new concept, but now weneed to get used to new
attitudes in our daily lifethat can be solutions for many current problems, especially when itcomes to our living standards. As population has grown we have to change how we live so earthcan give us what we need without disrupting.Transportation is one main cause of globalwarming, as many transports use fossil fuel.One way of reducing emissions is using publictransportation, because busses and subways can transport many people with lessenergy than carsor motorcycles. Another action is topay attention in what we consume and how much of it,simple as it may sound, we need to stop and think what we really need, as everything webuydirectly or indirectly produce an environmental impact. This impact is mainly due to howgoods are produced and shipped to the consumer. One way to solve this is financially responsiblecompanies and producers for the impact they cause to the environment and induce them to usemore sustainable practices within the supply chain, this action may reduce the impact of manypeople consuming products.And, most important of all, we have to change the consciousness thatclimate changes are a bad issue but nothing can be done. Many things can be solute on the futurewith a simple efforttoday.