Environmentally Sustainable Development in the Developed World
In the developed world most people enjoy a far higher standard of living than that of their ancestors in previous centuries. They have advanced means of transport, technology, communications, manufacturing and food production. This, however, has been achieved with tremendous damage to the environment. Development has involved the destruction of forests and wetlands, bringing loss of biodiversity. It has also involved the burning of fossil fuels causing air pollution and global warming, and an increasing use of toxic chemicals causing air and water pollution.
Sustainable development may be defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Political leaders have to start considering the needs of future generations of humans for a healthy environment. Efforts are being made to recycle and to reduce waste and emissions, but landfills are expanding, the production of greenhouse gases are increasing and global warming is on the rise. The developed world continues to overuse natural resources even though they know these are not infinite. Governments, industries and consumers need to do much more to reverse these trends.
The developed world needs to plan its cities, transport systems and populations better. It needs a sustainable development programme which integrates human activity with environmental health and nature conservation. Agriculture and industry need to be shaped to function according to sustainable principles.
The developed world is referred to as ‘The West’ because, with the exception of Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand most countries are in the western part of the globe. Sometimes it is referred to as ‘The North’ because, with the exception of Australia and New Zealand, most countries are in the northern part of the globe. It is also known as the 'Industrialised World' because, with some exceptions, most countries have gone through a phase of industrialisation, and much of the higher standard of living associated with development is derived from industry rather than agriculture.
What you can do
Think more about what you consume - identify your real needs. Reduce your energy use, recycle and reuse what you purchase. Boycott products that are environmentally unsafe and join green groups that lobby for change. For example, Co-op America has a list of green companies and products. It also has alternatives to types of products that are environmentally damaging.
Use public transport, or walk or cycle more often as this will save the burning of more fossil fuels. Consider where you might live in order to minimise using a car. Try to buy locally produced foods to save on ‘food miles’.