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Challenges of Sustainable Development and Global Environmental Issues

by | Apr 19, 2022 | Sustainable Development

Status of Global and Indian Environment

A growing challenge of poverty and a growing understanding of the existence of a second global crisis leading to environmental degradation. Desertification, the depletion of fossil resources, the loss of tropical rainforests, and fast decreases in forest cover have been cited as worldwide concerns.

Also, coastal ecosystems are being altered; drinking water availability and quality are being diminished; the soil is being depleted, and natural resources are being overexploited. Food shortages, species extinction and biodiversity loss, stratospheric ozone depletion, fast-growing fossil fuel prices and demand for energy sources, and climate change are among the many more challenges to sustainable development.

The sheer quantity, scale, and complexity of these challenges can appear daunting, and some critics have suggested that they represent a cumulative, long-term human effect on the environment that has significantly altered the Earth’s surface.

Large-scale relocation is the most serious human consequence of the climate problem. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), India is the fourth-worst affected country in the world by climate-related catastrophes, having experienced floods, storms, and cyclones.

For Indian agriculture, environmental deterioration is a key source of worry. In India, waste sewage and rubbish pollute around 80% of surface water, while diverse organic and inorganic sources contaminate an alarming amount of groundwater. Particulate matter 2.5 pollutions has caused 2.5 times more deaths in the last decade, with air pollution increasing in most parts of India, particularly the Indo-Gangetic plains.

Data on the status of the Indian environment:

Environmental, Social, and Economic Issues

Several factors interact to determine environmental performance, but cultural ethnic differences, political freedom, financial growth, and institutional quality all play a role in explaining environmental performance among countries. While ethnic variety, institutional excellence, and political freedom all help to reduce CO2 emissions, energy consumption, GDP growth, and financial development all contribute to environmental deterioration.

Ethnic variety is a source of creative and new methods to environmental degradation problems addressing. Political liberty empowers citizens to participate in decision-making, which ensures that environmental accords are followed to the letter. Good quality institutions attract foreign direct investment, resulting in the introduction of more environmentally friendly technologies as well as incentives for subsequent breakthroughs that may assist to reduce CO2 emissions.

Resource Degradation

The depletion of resources such as air, water, and soil, as well as the devastation of ecosystems and the loss of species, are all examples of resource degradation. It is defined as any alteration or disruption in the environment that is either harmful or undesirable. Various causes contribute to resource deterioration. Resource degradation is frequently caused by immediate causes such as biophysical factors and unsustainable resource management practices, as well as underlying causes such as density of population, economic hardship, continuity of leadership, land distribution and access to agriculture extension, infrastructural facilities, market access opportunities and constraints, policies, and overall government effectiveness.

Greenhouse Gases

Since 1900, global carbon emissions have risen dramatically. CO2 emissions have grown by over 90% since 1970, with fossil fuel burning and industrial activities accounting for around 78 per cent of the entire increase in greenhouse gas emissions between 1970 and 2011. The second-largest contributors have been agricultural purposes, deforestation, and some other land-use changes. When we look at global greenhouse emissions between 1990 and 2015, greenhouse gases due to human activities grew by 43%. Carbon dioxide emissions, which account for almost three-quarters of total emissions, grew by 51% over this time.

Desertification

Desertification is the long-term destruction of dryland ecosystems as a result of climate changes and human activity. Millions of people’s livelihoods are affected, including a huge proportion of the destitute in drylands. Desertification is generally caused by a long-term inability to balance human demand for ecosystem services with the ecosystem’s ability to give them. Dryland ecosystems are under growing strain to provide services such as food, fodder, fuel, construction materials, and water for humans, cattle, irrigation, and sanitation. A mix of human and climatic causes is to blame for this rise. While the interaction of these elements at the global and regional levels is complicated, it is understandable at the local level.

Social Insecurity

The presence of a global environmental disaster is now mainstream knowledge. Beyond the level of frequently sophisticated rhetoric, the environmental agenda has become a component of real policies and activities. The current environmental problem is, without a doubt, massively and unambiguously man-made. We’ll look at two different elements of Social and environmental insecurity. The first is the current problems’ systemic nature; the second is the nature of the current global environmental regime, which manages these challenges. Environmental degradation encompasses a lengthy and growing list of significant and numerous dysfunctions that feed off one another, strengthening the vulnerability chain.

Industrialization

With the rising industrial expansion and a small landmass, environmental sustainability is increasingly becoming a decisive issue in industrial development. The most serious issue is air pollution, which is caused by smoke and fumes produced by companies burning fossil fuels. Despite these limitations, the industries are among the world’s most polluting sources of air pollution. Industrial pollution contaminates a variety of drinking water sources, discharges harmful pollutants into the air, and degrades soil quality all around the world. Because of a lack of effective policies and a lack of enforcement, many companies were able to skirt around the pollution control board’s rules, resulting in widespread pollution that harmed many people’s lives.

Globalization

Globalization has resulted in increased cross-border movement of goods, commodities, investment, people, and ideas, as well as a plethora of other changes. The more fuel a product uses and the more GHG it releases, the longer it travels. These emissions have been shown to have a significant impact on biodiversity, as well as contribute to pollutants, global warming, and acidification of the oceans all over the world. Infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, is required for transportation, particularly land-based transportation. The building of such infrastructure may cause issues such as habitat destruction and pollution. The invasion of undesired species as a result of globalization has wreaked havoc on the natural ecology.

Need for Sustainability

Sustainability is defined as development that fulfils current requirements while not jeopardizing future generations’ ability to meet their own. Sustainability ensures that we make ethical decisions aiming for future goals. This guarantees everyone has a more secure and liveable future. Future generations will be deprived if we exhaust the Earth’s resources. If we overfish our seas, for example, we risk diminishing not just the supply of fish, but also the supply of every item in the food chain that depends on that fish.

Unless we start working toward sustainability, we will not be able to preserve our quality of life as humans, the diversity of species on Earth, or the Earth’s ecosystems. There are signs everywhere, from the tiniest to the greatest scales, that we must address the issue of sustainability. Fossil fuels will be depleted. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of animal species, will perish. We’re going to run out of wood. If we do not change, we will irreversibly destroy the environment.

Environmental sustainability refers to the natural environment’s ecological integrity and carrying capacity. It necessitates the long-term utilization of natural capital as a source of economic resources and a waste sink. The implication is that natural resources should be collected as quickly as they can be replenished, and trash should be discharged as quickly as it can be digested by the environment. This is because the earth’s ecosystems have limits and boundaries within which they must maintain balance.

Concept of Sustainability

Addressing our needs without risking future generations’ ability to satisfy their own is what sustainability means. In addition to natural resources, we require social and economic resources.

While the concept of sustainability is new, the movement as a whole has roots in social justice, environmental protection, internationalism, and other long-standing issues. By the end of the twentieth century, many of these ideas had come together in the campaign for sustainable development.’

Sustainability is a broad approach that considers ecological, social, and economic aspects, with the understanding that all of these variables must be considered in order to achieve long-term success.

Three Pillars of sustainability:

  • Environmental Sustainability: Humans utilize natural resources at a rate that allows them to renew themselves, maintaining ecological integrity and keeping all of the earth’s environmental systems in balance.
  • Social Sustainability: Universal human rights and basic requirements are within everyone’s reach if they have adequate resources to maintain their families and communities safe and healthy.
  • Economic Sustainability: Human communities all over the world can keep their independence and have access to the resources they require to satisfy their needs, both financial and non-financial. Economic systems remain intact, and activities such as secure sources of livelihood are available to everyone.

Sustainability

Factors Governing Sustainable Development

Sustainability is crucial to every living creature in our world, yet it appears that everyone (especially corporations) has a different definition of what it implies. The following are some of the elements that influence long-term development:

  • Climate Change: There’s a reason climate change is at the top of so many sustainability lists. Climate change is, without a doubt, the most serious problem confronting our world today. It is caused by one key factor: the planet’s progressive warming as a result of greenhouse gases created by the combustion of fossil fuels. Climate and weather patterns are shifting all across the world as a result of it.
  • People: Human nature does not predispose us to sustainability, but that does not rule out the possibility of doing so. True sustainability will never be accomplished if we, as people, do not strive for sustainability and cannot recognize that we are responsible as stewards of our earth. We must learn to feed, clothe, and entertain ourselves using sustainable methods, or we will fail on every level.
  • Innovations: We must seek technologies that will make us more sustainable as a species. These advancements do not have to be technological; they may be philosophical or economical. To solve the problems that many of us choose to ignore, we must transform the way we perceive the world and each other.
  • Technology: In recent years, technology has shown to be our saving grace in terms of sustainability. Many nations have already started to use new renewable technologies on a large basis, displacing outdated and harmful energy generation techniques. It’s a sign that things are improving, but global acceptance is required if our species is to be genuinely sustainable. Simultaneously, technology and procedures must continue to advance.
  • Ethics: Individual accountability is central to ethics. We must treat our world with respect, just as we must treat the plants and wildlife that share it with us. Ethical sustainability includes things like adopting a more sustainable diet and participating in sustainable and ethical farming methods. In terms of business, this might include being more open about unsustainable aspects of operations and making changes to make them more sustainable.
  • Environment: Environmental sustainability may be described as how successfully we protect the environment’s purity. This might include finding more sustainable means of obtaining and utilizing both tangible natural resources such as wood, metal, and water, as well as ephemeral resources such as electricity. As a species, this aspect is all about moderation. To be more sustainable, we must reduce our unrestrained use of natural resources.

 

Author

  • The author has done a master's in Environmental science and is currently working as chief Environmental Advisor with New Delhi State Government.

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