According to the records of history, human is the only specie known to have changed not morphologically but in the way of living because we continuously look for means to better our conditions of life here on earth. It all started with technical knowledge when the early man had to develop weapons from materials in nature for hunting. The knowledge grew from one generation to another and then scientific knowledge was built as a discipline. Today we combined both the scientific and the technical knowledge in a scope of answering questions and meeting up with our ever increasing needs. Development can be brought about through the theoretical or the hands-on part of a concept, discovery, through invention (technology as an example), and even a new design of a good leads to its development in the society.
To bring about development humans turns to mobilize elements of the environment from either their source of generation or their source of deposition after transportation by nature to concentrate them in the targeted area for development. In most situations the targeted area for development is a piece of land to which improvement to its use to the society is made. Examples of elements of development to an environment are the creation of roads, drainage systems, and new means of transportation just to name a few.
Development is a good thing but the way in which this development is achieved can turn to make our environment fragile given that humans are not the only organisms living here on earth. In this like, development can be said to be sustainable or unsustainable and this in turns have an impact on the whole ecosystem.
Life does not only end with one generation of people living on earth at a particular moment. This means that for humans to assure themselves that the resources they have today should be used in such a way that the upcoming generation will also have the possibility of profiting from these resources. Keeping in mind the concept of sustainable development is to tell us that most of the resources we need today to maintain our standard of living will be needed by future generations for the same purpose. Our needs for development vary from one country to another or one individual to another. For example in some countries there is a need of better schools while in other countries might be looking for better housing facilities and another might just want a less violent street. No matter the complex nature of our needs they can be broken down into 3 basis points
- In sustainable development we seek for a better environment; that is an environment free from pollution, an environment free from much noise, descent homes with good gardens and in sustainable development these kind of environment should also be keep and preserved for the future generations.
- Another important aspect about sustainable development in an environment is that of is its environmental economy. This should be in such a way that the people in the environment which can be a country are sure to have jobs, proper training, goods and services at affordable and reasonable prices and the supply of energy should be constant to carryout daily activities.
- Sustainable development similarly tackles the issue of better social conditions of the population that makes up the environment. Issues like good and affordable hospital facilities, as well as leisure facilities like playing grounds for children, good education, good and hospitable neighbours.
The role of the government in maintaining a sustainable development
The whole aspect of sustainable development lies in the hands of the government to provide services such as good education for the people, creating good jobs, create a means of exchange of goods and services within the country, regulate companies in other to see that they have environmental friendly operations, provide adequate infrastructures and portable water.
In must government contracts the term “sustainable development” is mostly used in government documents especially when it concerns funding programs of public services. As a whole we can subdivide sustainable development into sociopolitical sustainability, environmental sustainability, and economic sustainability
The goals or target of sustainable development
The goal of sustainable development is to meet up with a community that does not suffer from poverty and have the ability to provide basic needs themselves. Sustainable development also seeks to bring about healthy lives and ensure that at all ages the population well-being is taken care of. Aspects like gender equality, the provision of clean water and sanitation, energy are aspects also considered in sustainable development.
The environment and development
The environment is a place that provides the platform for the existence and the interaction of organisms and will be the platform of their subsequent development. The environment contains abiotic factors such as water, mineral components and energy and the biotic components which are the living things from the smallest known to the biggest.
The environment and development can be seen more as complements because one can only carryout development on a defined environment with resources from that environment or from another one. The play between the environment and development is that once exploitation of a particular resource begins in one part of an environment be it through mining, drilling in the case of hydrocarbons or large agricultural plantations and even the enlarging cities all have an impact on the environment.
Drastic effect on the environment and development by human activities
- Mining. Mining applies various extraction techniques to a particular environment where the concentration of an ore mineral is found for economic purposes. The impact to the environment and development is such that the mineral being excavated is not found alone in that place and once the mineral is extracted the other elements change from the stable state (reduced state) to the mobile state (oxidized state) which is now harmful to the biotic components of the environment both on land and water. Although the mining activity brings about development in the country, the environment is destroyed as the excavated land can no longer support plant growth hence there is desertification in that environment.
- Drilling of hydrocarbons. The development in the domain of hydrocarbon exploration can be beneficial as it can change the standard of living of a whole nation by drastically increasing their purchasing power for example the United Arab Emirates who are known to be countries relaying mostly on petroleum exportation for the revenue of the country and are well developed. On the other hand in a case of oils spillage or burning of a rig offshore the consequences on marine life is that it will cause the dead of many species and affecting the ecosystem balance negatively.
- Air pollution. Pollutants such as carbon dioxide from companies are one of the gases produced from development operations. This gas is produced from power companies such as those using coal to generate electricity, vehicles using the steam engine and decomposing waste products also releases polluting gases to the atmosphere. These gases are known to be responsible for the drastic climate change around the world. The situation here represents the unsustainable part of development and environment as it turns to affect the biotic components by changing the chemistry of the various environments. Continuous release of high level of heat to an environment can lead to desertification and drought.
- Over population. The increasing world population is due to a better environment and development. Development in the field of medicine has better the life of people and the population growth rate has become exponential. It becomes unsustainable as in parts of the world (mostly in developing countries) where there is no urban planning, people build randomly even when the area is prone to natural hazards because the cost of land there is low. As a consequence the people in these areas are unsecured in an event of any disaster.
- Deforestation; the more the population grows, and the more forest is cut down to create space for settlement. Similarly wood logging in most countries is a source of income to the country for development and in cases where this logging is done in an unsustainable manner without control, there is lost of habitats of many animal species These homeless species become endangered as they will be exposed predators. Also, forest is a natural sink for CO2. The more it is cut down in our quest for development the more CO2 is retained in the atmosphere and causes global warming.
- Waste management. The environment and development of countries result to the generation of waste. Environmental sustainability requires adequate disposal of waste. For example nuclear waste which even not useful continue to emit radiation and in the case where they are unsustainably dumped they can get into underground water system and later consumed by human and other animals.
Buildings designed to minimize environmental and resource impact
The kind of construction that helps to minimize environmental and resource impact from unsustainable development activities are called green buildings. Green buildings refer to a kind of structure and processes used to build a house that respects the environment and the resources used are well managed all through the existence of the building. This refers to its siting to the final design, including the processes of construction, maintenance, even during renovation and its demolition process. Due to the drastic impacts of unsustainable development especially in the sector of the use of wood to construct houses, various bodies to solve the problem have put in place standards to be respected. Bodies like the British BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) are put in place and gives a certificate after verification that the construction is a green building.
With the progress in technology, the quality of the green building gets greener, the main idea behind green buildings are to reduce the effect of unsustainable development on humans, by preserving their health and keeping a natural environment. The green building is designed to be efficient in the consumption of energy, water and any other resources available; it helps to shield the occupants health condition thereby boosting the efficiency of the employee on the environment, it reduces waste consequently reducing pollution and also the degradation of the environment.
Normal buildings versus green buildings
Normal building globally consume a lot of energy, water, materials and also electricity. The emission of CO2 today of normal houses contributes to 18% of the total amount of CO2 released to the atmosphere annually. According to the United Nations Environment Program, this amount from homes if nothing is done technological will double by 2050 and buildings have been estimated to occupy about 430,000 km2 of land in the United States according to the United Nations Environment Program. On the other hand green building are specially designed to use resources wisely so that they reduce the devastating effect of normal homes, besides they have smaller sizes and hence occupy less land.
Business sustainability integrates the consideration of financial, social and environmental aspects within a business thus making it a green business and refers to any business that seeks to reduce the drastic consequences of unsustainable development on the global or the local environment, in a community, as well as in a society or economy. Progressively in business sustainability new laws and policies are adopted to eliminate factors that lead to unsustainable development.. There are four criteria used to match with a business to describe the business as green;
1- the business decisions are to respect the principles of sustainability;
2- the products supplied by the business should be environmentally friendly so that they replace products which can pollute the environment;
3- the sustainable business is greener than any other competitor around;
4- the sustainable business operation is to respect the principles of environmental care.
In business sustainability, the drastic impacts of unsustainable development are reduced by producing and manufacturing using greener equipment and energy and yet maintaining a profit. Business sustainability is very necessary for the success of the business.