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Tuesday, 4 February 2014

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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND GREEN TECHNOLOGY

As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions.-          Al Gore[1]

YEAR 2014: Lake Michigan and Niagara falls FREEZE as a consequence to the extreme weather prevalent across the United States. An apt reminiscence of such a scenario can be recalled from the movie “2012”. There has been a drastic change in weather especially after witnessing the hottest summers in the nation’s history. If an event of such a magnitude isn’t an eye opener then these further examples ought to be, the curious case of Eastern Europe enjoying spring right in the middle of winter or England experiencing unseasonal torrential rains during winter, as well as that of Australia currently enduring unusually high temperatures[2].

There are skeptics who do not come to their view because they have a source of income from carbon polluters”.-           Al Gore[3]

To those naysayers who’ve claimed change is a work of fiction, what does their studies which conveniently negated climate change for the undue benefit of numerous multinational companies, which in turn have thrived through irreparable damage to the environment[4].

Further quoting Mark Twain[5];
What gets us into trouble is not what don’t know, but what we know for sure is just ain’t true

Such words hold true for the current precarious environmental situation.
Eminent environmentalist Mr. Al Gore since the early 2000’s has strived to educate and create awareness among the masses warning them about the consequence of climate change, sadly all his endeavors were futile and the world is a witness to his fears about unchecked environmental damage.
The concept of industrial revolution which was conceived to be a boon for mankind has taken the form of a bane due to inadept implementation and execution planning by its crusaders. The vision which the conceivers of industrialization sought to achieve was that of a world which provides for all humans. However due to unchecked growth, rapid deforestation, exploitation of Earth’s natural resources and numerous other reasons has seen the vision turn sour to that of a planet which is blighted by natural calamities and thus caused insufferable loss to life and property. The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Sandy had the world rasped in attention.

The planet initially provided for the needs and necessities of all, but given the greed and the need for “self interest” of Corporate bodies has lead to overuse of resources and has thus turned a very unlikely scenario into a likelihood i.e. exhaustion of natural resources. Natural Resources being a nonrenewable source of energy are bound to run out sooner rather than later. Overuse of natural resources has led to a situation where the future generations may not get an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of nature. Petroleum which is the driving factor for the world economy is said to be completely exhausted by the year 2050[6].
The supposedly Supreme World powers have initiated no steps whatsoever in furtherance to allay the above stated fears. If and when such an unlikely scenario comes into fruition total anarchy shall prevail. With no viable source of energy readily available time is running short for the World to survive without the aid of natural resources. Impact of exhaustion of natural resources would be felt the hardest on the Industrial Sector. Closure of Industries would be a logical consequence coupled with scores of people facing the prospect of unemployment. Such a World with scarce resources as well as high levels of poverty, hunger, unemployment and utter chaos is not a world the ideology of Industrialization provides for. It’s however poles apart.
However there is time to salvage our future. This can be achieved by accelerating the research into cheaper alternatives and reducing the time period between conceptualization of an idea to its actual fulfillment. We may just about reduce the burden on our plant and not at the cost of development. Any School going child would be able to answer the question on what are the steps required to save our planet from extinction. The solutions are present and available; all that is lacking is a strong will to act upon those alternatives. Most of the developed European Countries and to a certain extent Japan (until the Fukushima incident) depend upon nuclear energy as a source to address their respective nations needs. Iceland[7] and other Scandinavian countries have met their energy requirements through means of alternate Greener as well as cheaper sources of energy such as geothermal, hydropower, wind, solar etc. Countries which are entirely dependent on alternate modes of energy are not only self sufficient in energy needs but are also into the business of exporting energy thus enhancing their own economy by create a new industry of “exporting clean and green energy”. The United Kingdom is the biggest benefactor of Iceland thriving energy industry[8].
England depends upon gas, coal and nuclear to fuel its energy requirements, whereas Norway a country whose GDP is close to $236 billion depends upon hydroelectric, geothermal and electric power to match its energy needs. Such alternate sources of fuel have been identified inspite of having extensive reserves of oil and natural gases.
Coming to Asia, Kingdom of Bhutan is a frontrunner when it comes to the renewable energy sector. Bhutan through its efficient hydropower system has not only gained self sufficiency in energy but exports close to 75% of its excess energy to India.
In order to ensure self sufficiency in energy needs rather than burdening one’s own economy through importation of energy many developing countries have taken adequate measures in the right direction in order to promote alternate sources of energy. India, China, Algeria, Mozambique, Albania and countless other countries from different parts of the World have realized the grim future and have ensured concrete steps have been initiated to protect and secure their respective needs as well as future.
Green growth” means growth in harmony between economy and environment by preventing climate change and reducing environmental damage with conservation of energy and resources and efficient use of them, securing new growth engine through research and development of clean energy and green technology and creating new jobs[9].

The major obstacle faced by Green technology is whether or not such sources are efficient enough to power the needs of any country and whether or not a full-fledged use of such sources is a viable option. Naysayers claim development would be hampered if a large scale change is put into effect. To those naysayers, what use is “development” if we have a planet which isn’t suitable for living? Carbon emissions are at an all time high and studies have shown a steady rise in the earth’s atmosphere over the past 20 years and with each passing year the Earth has seen a 0.8 degree change in its temperature. This has facilitated the melting of polar ice caps, which act as a sponge by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere thereby reducing the Earth’s temperature. However the accelerated rate at which the polar ice caps are melting are not only shrinking the land mass available but also releasing the trapped carbon thus further increasing the Earths’ temperature. 
As stated in the prior examples, development is possible in furtherance of green technology. Development not at the cost of our environment is the key to the problems faced by us. In short the birth of sustainable development[10].
Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report[11]:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
It contains within it two key concepts:
·         The concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and

·         The idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs.

Sustainable development” is the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs”.[12]
As the world wrestles with the challenges created by growing populations, more balanced distribution of wealth and rising public demands, new solutions are essential to insuring that growth can be economically and environmentally sustainable. Development in today’s context is at a critical juncture, with multiple crises (financial, food and energy)forcing us to re-assess the economic paradigm of our time and evaluate how to better address the unfulfilled promises that we are currently leaving to future generations in areas of employment, social progress, quality of life and respect for nature. The growing yields of mass industrial production, the information revolution and success in other spheres of social life such as medicine and education have considerably enhanced the standards of living. But the benefits have been clearest only in the developed countries. And short-term success often obscures long-term degradation of natural environment and extensive depletion of natural resources. Thus, ever-growing global interconnectedness and interdependence in the beginning of 21st Century irreversibly spread into the environmental issue area.

Development in concurrence with the needs and requirements of all concerned individuals including the environment has to be a key part of the Worlds’ economic policies. Development is still possible through the use of alternate sources of energy as shown in many Scandinavian countries. Short sightedness shown by decision makers who are influenced by people who derive benefits due to the exorbitant rates of conventional sources of energy must be avoided. Corruption plays a vital part. Sadly Humans by nature are attracted to money like ants to sugar. The preferable excuse of alternate sources being unreliable or expensive is no longer applicable.
Thus for good measure Countries have to adopt a strict policy towards alternative sources thus affording a chance to replenish natural resources which are on verge of exhaustion due to years of exploitation. Strict penalty is to be awarded to nations not in conformity with the said policy (if it ever comes into existence). Only if Countries act now can our planet and the future of the coming generations be safe and secure.  





[1] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/al_gore.html
[2] Times of India
[3] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/al_gore.html
[4] Al Gores’ documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”
[5] Al Gores’ documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”
[6] http://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,,-64028,00.html
[7] http://makewealthhistory.org/2012/07/09/countries-with-100-renewable-energy/
[8] http://world-electricity-generation.findthedata.org/
[9] Presidential Council for Future and Vision (2009) 
[10] http://www.iisd.org/sd/
[11] http://www.iisd.org/sd/
[12] Our Common Future (1987)







About The Author:-

Abhijeet Andrews
3rd Year, BBA-LLB(Hons.)
FOL, IFHE, Hyderabad

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