has been used more in the context of human sustainability on planet earth. This has resulted in the most widely quoted definition of sustainability in the context of development - Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The Earth Charter speaks of a sustainable global society founded to respect nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace. The history of sustainability traces human dominated ecological system from the earliest civilization to the present. In early human history, the use of fire and desire for specific foods may have altered the natural composition of plant and animal communities. The industrial revolution of 17th to 19th centuries tapped into the vast reserves of energy in fossil fuels. Coal was used to power engines and later to generate electricity. 20th century witnessed the emergence of petrol and petroleum products which have become almost indispensable source of energy in modern day life. The Energy Crisis of the late 20th century, demonstrated the extent to which the global com-
munity had become dependent on non renewable energy resources. Among the key elements of sustainability are Water and Population.
AMONG THE KEY ELEMENTS OF SUSTAINABILITY ARE WATER AND POPULATION Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface. Of this 97.5% is the salty water of the oceans and only 2.5% is fresh water, most of which is locked up in the Antarctic ice sheet. the remaining fresh water is found in glaciers, lakes, rivers, the soil and atmosphere. Due to the water cycle, fresh water supply is continually replenished by precipitation.
However there is still a very limited amount of water, necessitating management of this resource. Increasing urbanization pollutes clean water supplies and much of the world’s population still does not have access to clean and safe water. According to the United Nations, the world population is projected to reach 7 billion in 2012, up from 6.9 billion in 2009 and expected to exceed 9 billion in 2050. it is the combination of the population increase in the developing world and unsustainable levels of consumption in the developed world that poses a stark challenge to sustainability More and more data indicate that humans are not living within the carrying capacity of the planet. The sustainability goal is to raise the
global standard of living without increasing the use of natural resources beyond the globally sustainable levels. That is not to exceed “ONE PLANET” consumption. In March 2009, at a meeting of the climate council in Copenhagen, climate experts from 80 countries issued a keynote statement that there is now” no excuse” for failing to act on global warming and without strong carbon reduction targets, “abrupt or irreversible” shifts in climate may occur that willl be very difficult for the contemporary societies to cope with. The question is not, what is happening to the climate, but how bad will it be before the world statrs doing enough! Continued >>
ISC TOASTMASTERS SEPTEMBER 2011