Environmental Sustainability is defined as the study of natural systems and how some practices and factors affect the use and availability of the resources indefinitely or in the long-term. If the resource is used more than it is produced or available, then it is not sustainable since it will get depleted overtime. The natural systems which include renewable and nonrenewable resources play a vital role in creating balance and diversity of the ecology. Inability to sustain the environment means that the future generations won’t be able to make use or benefit from the current natural systems.
Renewable and Non-Renewable Resources
Natural resources are divided into renewable and non-renewable resources. The two will be looked at differently when it comes to environmental sustainability.
-Renewable resources: The environment is said to be sustainable if the rate of harvesting the resources does not exceed the speed of renewal/regeneration. This is defined as the sustainable yield. For instance, the environment is sustainable if the number of trees cut down is less than that planted.
-Non Renewable Resource: The sustainable yield is measured between the non-renewable resource and a renewable substitute. A good example is comparing petroleum products such as diesel fuel with bio-fuels.
NB: Pollution is also factored in sustainability and measures the rate of waste generation and sustainable waste disposal. Methods such as recycling play key role in making the environment sustainable in regard to pollution.
The Three Pillars of Environmental Sustainability
During the World Summit held in 2005, three pillars of sustainability were identified and are used as basis of evaluating and coming up with new measures. According to the Brundtland Commission, these pillars affect the current generation and won’t affect the future generation’s ability to sustain their needs.
1. Economic Development
This focuses on providing people with what they need to improve the quality of life without causing any extra burden or “red tape.” The natural system should be used properly to keep up with the law of supply and demand.
2. Social Development
This pillar seeks to educate and make people aware of their natural environment and how best to protect it. Through use of legislation and mass education, people are taught how pollution and bad business practices can affect their health as well as the environment. A common talking point is sustainable housing where quality housing can be achieved without undermining the ecology.
3. Environmental Protection
Focus is on regulating businesses and ensuring there is minimal to zero pollution and environmental destruction. Producers and manufactures are required to keep carbon emissions and carbon footprints at a minimal and also embracing renewal resource instead of non-renewable resources.
The goal of learning and understanding environmental sustainability is to help maintain or improve environmental quality in the long-term. It takes concerted effort from everyone to live in a greener and cleaner environment and guarantee the future generations of the same.