Posts Tagged environmental sustainability
Last week was a big week for me. I received a phone call one evening from a dear friend of mine and it was obvious she was very distressed. Early the next morning I received another call from the hospital to say that she was ill. As my sister suicided 10 years ago, I am now acutely aware of the mental anguish some people experience and how difficult it can be for them to ask for help.
I changed my plans for the week and flew across the country to be with her and help her in any way I could. It seemed that one of the best things I could do for her was to take her away to a quiet piece of the countryside. I was lucky that the beach was only 30 minutes away and we found an isolated spot to soak up the sun, listen to the waves gently lapping the shoreline and watch the birds. She fell asleep swaddled by the beauty and therapy that only nature can offer. Later she awoke feeling far more peaceful.
What is it about nature that is so soothing and nourishing to the spirit? Not that I do know the answer but, I suppose in some way it touches the inner core of who we are and our deep connectedness to this planet.
My relationship and commitment to this dear friend is something I cherish. So it is with some detachment that I read about the great social media of Facebook having reached its 500 millionth ‘friend’. There is no doubt that the internet and all it offers is going to be a significant part of the future. It IS another world and one that we will need to understand.
We have the internet and while it is the future, what is equally clear is that we need to remember our connectedness with the planet and the intimate friendships that go well beyond anything that Facebook could ever offer.
At its deepest level, our commitment to spiritual fulfilment, social justice and environmental sustainability are not likely to be achieved by superficial relationships on the net. We need not only a balance but a real desire to highlight the importance of nature. What were the words of that famous song? Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings these are a few of my favourite things!
Yes we have technology and it can be wonderful, we just need a balance.
Live! love! Laugh!
Roz Townsend visit www.roztownsend.comTags: environmental sustainability, intimate friendships, mental anguish, spiritual fulfilment, superficial relationships
Wood, We Need it More Than We Know.
Wood products are hard to ignore, they are all around us, from the frame of your house, to the table you sit at, there is no doubt that wood is of immense value. Unfortunately it’s sheer flexibility in the number of applications it is used for, means that it is one of the most sought out resources in the world.
Wood comes to us in the form of various species of trees, each having their own desirable characteristics depending on where they grow throughout the world. But trees are not just useful for building resources, they serve as habitats for various species within their ecosystems, provide life for countless living organisms, and work as scrubbers of the worlds carbon-dioxide – a dangerous greenhouse gas, that has become increasingly significant in today’s global warming debacle.
It is then, no surprise, that the source of our wood products are an integral part of our ecosystem and a living resource that we should strive to protect and preserve with all our efforts.
Problems in the Timber Industry as it is Related to Environmental Sustainability.
A problem that exists today is the sheer profits earned in the timber industry by the various
loggers, manufacturers and vendors. Further to this, an unfortunate oversight is that most of the logging and manufacturing is performed in countries where trees are abundant, but strict enforcement and regulations against their harvest is not. Without control, the rate of deforestation not only surpasses our ability to rebuild these forests, but threatens the delicate balance of our world’s ecosystems and our very lives.
Sourcing from wood production mills throughout poorly regulated areas such as Russia or China causes significant on-going effects not only to the timber trade industry but the more important global environment. Documented cases have occurred where woods have been illegally marked as certified or from approved sources, or where wood products have been labeled as species other than their actual contents. Illegally harvested woods are cheap to acquire and therefore present an unfair competitive advantage against mills who log from approved sources and according to the regulations set by the local authorities. In addition, their reduced cost promotes strong demand from the top wood consuming countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom further supporting the use of illegally harvested timber.
Glues Used in Wood Production.
Another source of potential environmental impact is the use of formaldehyde based glues in wood production. Formaldehyde is an important constituent in the manufacturing of moisture resistant permanent resins and is widely used in other industrial and chemical applications. Although the amount used in wood production is nominal compared with worldwide consumption (about 46 billion tons annually), the growing health concern is directly related to the reprocessing of wood products (such as sanding or lamination) after their initial manufacture.
Standards Maximum Formaldehyde Content (ppm)
European E1 0.75
U.S. OSHA 0.75
U.S. ANSI 0.30
German E1 0.106
CARB Phase 1 0.08
Japan JIS/JAS (F***) 0.098
European E0 0.07
CARB Phase 2 0.05
Japan JIS/JAS (F****) 0.04
Outdoor Air 0.03
Wood Production Efficiency – It Matters.
While sourcing of certified woods is of importance, many fail to realize that the efficiency of the wood production itself is also of significant concern. Smaller, less capitalized mills use cheap, poor quality and inferior machinery in order to maximize profit with reduced start up costs. Unfortunately these machines are less efficient, using more power and having a significantly reduced recovery rate (produce more wood waste). Larger, well capitalized mills use expensive machinery with high wood recovery, and with increased mill size, offer greater overall efficiency in manufacture with better recovery of waste. Unfortunately these smaller mills are more abundant (especially throughout China) and make up the bulk of total wood production, often at the expense of the environment.
The Future of the Wood Production Industry as a Whole.
The wood industry is mindful of the growing environmental concerns. The awareness generated by these organizations has forced a trend in the wood industry that will continue to progress and influence the ways various wood products are manufactured. Engineered woods such as plywood and medium-density fiberboard, maximize the usefulness of timber used and advancements in engineered wood technology and manufacturing processes are already having significant environmental impacts.
One company has even successfully used polystyrene balls to replace a percentage of wood chips and bonding them with special resins to decrease the overall use of wood without sacrificing the function of the product itself, and also significantly reducing weight, having a large scale impact on reduced fuel consumption throughout the transportation lifecycle.
The largest Malaysia plywood manufacturers, should strive to be fully aware of the ecological impact of it’s Meranti plywood production businesses. Timber logging is aggressively controlled in Malaysia and annual forest concessions are granted where sustainability is adequate or where regions have been earmarked for future development. In addition, our use of woods certified by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) ensures compliance and support of environmental sustainability programs despite increased costs of obtaining imported woods from FSC certified forests.
To this end it is important that the various members of this industry be well adept to the current efforts by environmental preservation agencies and be fully invested and committed to the support of the forest rejuvenation programs and the worlds efforts against illegal harvesting.
Copyright (c) 2008 Daniel Lafleche
Today’s journals of trade and popular culture are all but awash in the buzzwords ‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability’. Here, we are obliged to raise the red flag and warn of lurking danger. These diverse and many advocates do a great disservice in more ways than they know.
For in this great sea of ‘sustainability’, which spans business strategies and regimens of weight loss, one all too easily loses sight of the real battle. We know that over-use of a term can have an unintended blunting effect. But the word is so much in vogue, and its employment so overzealous, that it has in many instances become obscured entirely. So, you ask, what is sustainable development? Who are its proponents and antagonists? And, oh yes, why exactly is it to be so desired after all?
Ours is an age in which we have come under the twin pressures of burgeoning population growth and an accompanying intensification of economic development. This development is necessary for the provision of the surging population’s needs and wants. Though rates of population growth show signs of slowing, the number of earth’s inhabitants will continue to expand massively in the foreseeable future. With the added variable of impending climate change, there is a sudden and new awareness of the potentially destructive nature of the human project.
These realities have given immense weight to calls for an oversight which explicitly takes account of the fate of future generations. Many nuanced definitions have been devised, but the most commonly evoked is that sustainable development “meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” General consensus holds that the sustainability project spans three interactive domains; these are (1) environmental sustainability, (2) economic sustainability, and (3) social-political sustainability.
Environmental sustainability is concerned with the preservation of resources and our earth’s natural environment. In the strictest sense, any process which allows natural capital (the net sum of all natural resources and other bounties of the earth) to be depleted faster than it can be replenished threatens its ability to function and to serve us properly and indefinitely. Advocates of environmental protection actively seek solutions which will minimize the present and future burden to our natural environment of industrial and other pursuits. The best solutions are those which find ways to incorporate renewable methods of resource exploitation.
The notion of environmental sustainability is thus inextricably bound to the premise of economic sustainability. Rapid advances in new technologies and production techniques are constantly altering and expanding the boundary of production possibilities. But ultimately, economics is the science of the allocation of a finite resource pool. Promotion of economic sustainability thus seeks to allow for future generations to reach their own optimal allocations free from constraints imposed by our own patterns of exploitation in the here and now.
The sphere of social-political sustainability is interesting in that it expands beyond the simple necessity of economic growth and its effect on the natural environment to more directly include the human element in the equation. Social-political sustainability promotes social harmony and continuity of healthy political institutions so that a mechanism is in place for the enactment of the collective will (presumably a will which is favorable to sustainability).
The project of sustainable development has inevitably encountered resistance. Some are eager to point out that any economic pursuit which entails resource depletion is by that very fact unsustainable. But to make this charge is to reduce the debate to semantics; to contend that the impossibility of an absolute application invalidates the endeavor wholesale is to court the ridiculous.
Another more prominent criticism is slightly more troublesome to counter. Available evidence seems to confirm the wisdom that as nations emerge from poverty and amass wealth they are more willing to dedicate a portion of their incomes to combat pollution and other unpleasantries. The wealthy industrialized nations of the world at one time advanced through dirtier stages analogous to the present progress of developing economies. However at that time there were no monitors or whistle-blowers. This school of critics cries hypocrisy. They uphold “dirty” mediums of economic growth that wealthier nations can now afford to bypass as the only hope to elevate massive populations from abject misery. In so doing, they seek to force arbiters of sustainable development into the unenviable position of choosing between the welfare of the earth’s poor and that of the earth itself.
In the face of these criticisms, proponents of sustainable development strive for the national and international coordination of environmental, economic and sometimes social policies in the advancement of responsible progress. They are mindful that the world more than ever is a system of actors, none of whose actions bear no consequence for others. Their goal is the day-to-day management of policy decisions such that humanity might enjoy the bounty of our natural environment without exhausting it, and without selfishly revoking the privilege of coming generations to do the same.
Without sounding the bells of certain alarmists, sustainability of this color is to be venerated and upheld. Dilution of the term’s strength by those who would seek to hijack its nobility is, on the other hand, to be regretted and indeed resisted.Tags: economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, interactive domains, sustainability project, what is sustainable development
Not only are there more courses available to study, but environmental qualifications are becoming much more valuable. There is a high demand for qualified experts who are needed to sustain and look after the natural environment. If this is a career you are hoping to get into then you will be pleased to know that this is a sector where jobs are on the rise. There are plenty of opportunities for you to start a very rewarding career working in the environmental sector.
The remainder of this article will outline what environmental degrees are available. However, this is only a brief list that should be used as a starting block for your own research. You might want to pick a few of the subjects that interest you most and then read more about what the courses involve. It is helpful to look at the modules that are covered in a degree to see whether it is something that you really want to study. Take a look at the list below to see what sort of things you might want to research.
Environmental Degrees in the UK
Environmental Business Studies
Rural Environmental Management
Urban Environmental Studies
Environmental Risk Management
As you can see, this list demonstrates that there are some really interesting and slightly unusual environmental degrees that you can study. This gives you the chance to pick something that is really specialist. Although you must be sure that you want to study something that is really specialist, because if you change your mind then your choices could be limited.
It might be helpful to do a bit of research into what jobs are available for specific study areas. This will help you gauge how much competition there is and how hard it will be for you to get the job that you want when you leave university.
Many environment job websites are starting to emerge that can provide you wish some really great career advice. If you have already completed your degree then you might want to contact some environmental recruitment agencies to help you find your dream job.
Tags: environmental archaeology, environmental biology, environmental degrees, environmental risk management, environmental sustainability
Copyright (c) 2008 Jackson Kern
It is commonly accepted that the project of sustainable development is conceptually composed of three constituent parts. These parts are (1) environmental sustainability, (2) economic sustainability, and (3) social-political sustainability. The United Nations 2005 World Summit refers to the “interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars” of sustainable development as environmental protection, economic development and social development. The interdependency of the first two is evident; it is perhaps the greatest challenge of our time to satisfy the needs and wants of burgeoning populations within the binding constraints imposed by our physical environment. But what is this great hoopla about social development and sustainability of politics, and what exactly is its place?
If environmental protection is concerned with the preservation of our natural environment and resources, and economic sustainability is concerned with seeking durable growth solutions therein, then the social-political sphere can be thought of as representative of the more purely human element in the equation. Social development and social-political sustainability are intimately related concepts but they are not in fact entirely interchangeable. It is important that we understand their symbiotic relationship and its implications for the broader sustainability project.
Social development is a concept that is familiar to most of us in its many and varying forms. Within any given society there are opportunities to improve and enrich each of its composite parts in many ways. Of sometimes greater importance is the need to harmonize relations amongst these various and sometimes opposing elements. Those actively engaged in the process of social development include agents acting within its institutions to effect change via established channels. Of more notice, however, are often those who act from the outside, those who reject the society’s institutions as inadequate, and who advocate wholesale social and political change as the only true path to social enrichment and development.
It is in this transformational role that we begin to touch on the realm of social-political sustainability. Within any given social context, social development can be pursued with the simple granting of budgets. Financial and human resources are utilized to strengthen and enrich societies by improving educational opportunities, by embracing the marginalized and the forgotten, by making improvements to healthcare and hygienic conditions and by endearing knowledge of financial and entrepreneurial activities to name just a few. Here, the distinguishing feature of social development is that it is executed within the institutional mechanisms and constraints prevailing in that given entity.
Social-political sustainability too is very much concerned with physical and material standing of peoples, but further than this it is concerned with the state of their civil society. Social-political sustainability is differentiated from pure social development in that its sphere is expanded beyond the employment of simply monetary means. Social-political development entails not only the engagement of institutional mechanisms, but also their modification and advancement. Social-political sustainability thus seeks pathways to durable social enrichment and development via the vibrancy and health of a society’s political processes. At its core, there ultimately is little more than an absolute faith in the functioning of liberal democracy. Despite the frequent changing of the guard and the potential for policy discontinuity this entails, it is believed that representative republican government bolstered by mass public awareness and participation provides the best model of a sustainable body politic.
In addition to social policy, environmental and economic policies are clearly dictated in the political realm as well. It is in the creed of the sustainability project to hold that healthy political bodies which are truly representative of the collective will can show us the path forward. Recognition of the strain to our natural environment that unrestrained industrialization and consumption have brought depends upon it.
The French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville long ago warned Americans that their political structure (and indeed that of all democracies) could fall hostage to a “tyranny of the majority”. To illustrate the weight of these words, consider a scenario in which a pluralistic political majority were unwilling to adopt legislation which combatively addresses climate change issues, while the autocratic but highly environmentalist ruler of another nation prosecuted an aggressive climate change agenda with gusto. In the face of peril, such a situation would revive human moral and ethical dilemmas of the highest order.
Faith in democracy and the ideologies it espouses transcends the purely political arena. In a free and wealthy society, those in the pursuit of scientific truth battle only scientific obstacles. If the danger is real, the truth will be brought to bear. But even in the face of incontrovertible truth, can the titanic inertia of human complacency and comfort be overcome and conquered?
Many scientific and economic authorities now believe that emissions caps are insufficient in the battle against climate change. They call for a massive mobilization of public funds for investment in research with the goal of discovering new low-carbon-emissions technologies, and this on the scale of the Manhattan Project that delivered the first atomic bombs.
We will be watching. This, folks, is nothing less than a test of social-political sustainability in action.Tags: binding constraints, economic sustainability, environmental sustainability, political sphere, sustainability project