Essay on Sustainabilty

Essay by jrg31089A+, February 2005

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Even those who fully support the idea of sustainable development as a goal find many challenges in their efforts to achieve this goal. Creating a sustainable future requires sustainable choices being made at many levels of society. Just as human decisions affect the environment at many levels, so does the need for sustainability exists at many levels.

In developed nations, many individuals and families have diverse opportunities available and must grasp with a range of very personal choices related to family size, housing, diet, vocation, transportation, recreation, and purchase of consumer goods. Local communities must also grasp with a bunch of choices in making responsible decisions related to transportation, housing, infrastructure, and more. In some cases the most sustainable alternatives are a real change from the current situation, which is likely to make them less acceptable to many persons.

In business and industry, reaching for sustainability has its own challenges.

Efforts at the scale of individual products, such as through life cycle analysis, will not be enough. Equally important are efforts at the scale of entire plants or corporations and even at the scale of industrial ecosystems or eco-industrial parks where, for example, byproducts or heat output by one industry becomes feedstock or power for the industry next door. Creating sustainable agriculture to feed our growing population and its changing tastes is yet another subject with its own questions and concerns.

On many scales - in homes and communities, industry and agriculture, and under the influence of national and international policy - new technologies are likely to play an important role in helping us achieve sustainability. This does not mean that naïve technological optimism will see us through. Rather, technological evolution is a necessary complement to cultural evolution. It will be an ongoing challenge to effectively focus technological change...