.. to the environment must become proactive in reducing the strain that modern civilization has on the biosphere. Parties Involved “If current levels of consumption and production continue, efficiency in the use of all resources would have to increase by more than 50% in the next four to five decades just to keep pace with the population growth.” (Sustainable America, 1996:143) Technology is already making vast progress towards the goal of a more efficient society, though the general population and manufacturers have not readily accepted the implementation of such technologies. The current U.S. economy is less than 10 percent as energy-efficient as the laws of physics permit,” (Sustainable America, 1996:143) Many of these technologies have yet to be implemented in modern manufacturing.
Much of this is due to the lack of strong support from governments around the world. “We must use as much environmentally friendly technology as we can in our world. Unfortunately, over the course of this century, the U.S. government intervened in the economy to promote ecologically inefficient and destructive economic practices. While giving a pittance to the development of solar and wind power, the government sank about $100 billion of subsidies into nuclear power between 1950 and 1990.
Similarly, the government lavished funds upon the Highway Trust Fund and created the interstate highway system while allowing public transit of all types to decay. To this day, over 80% of federal transportation spending supports automobile-related infrastructure, leaving less than 20% for mass transit. Such spending patterns, along with additional subsidies like tax write-offs for home mortgages, help generate suburban sprawl (and thereby exacerbate the ecological damage caused by cars). At the same time, regulators often tackle problems at the end of the pipe instead of seeking to change the productive processes themselves. (Williamson, T., 1999) Recommendations and Solutions Not even the present world population of 5.8 billion people-let alone the 10 billion expected by 2050-can hope to achieve North America’s material standard of living without destroying the ecosphere and precipitating their own collapse.
The only alternative, if we continue to insist on economic growth as our major instrument of social policy, is to develop technologies that can provide the same levels of service with six to 12 times less energy and material (Wackernagel and Rees, 1996:90-91). We now live in a world where the desire for possessions and services drives the global economy. It is unlikely that the materialistic goals of modern society will change in a manner drastic enough to change the way in which mankind interfaces with the world. In order to maintain the convenience-rich lifestyle, to which much of the modern world has become accustomed, our reliance on efficient technology must take precedence over the temporary increase in the cost of production. As theorized by the EPA in their 1996 study of pollution and pollution control, not only may pollution control not be a significant burden to the economy, but in the long run, it could actually improve the economy.
“The finding is overwhelming. The benefits far exceed the costs of the Clean Air Act in the first 20 years,”(Morgenstern, R., 1996). The Clean Air Act to which Mr. Morgenstern referred was the basis of the 1996 EPA study. In 1970 the Clean Air Act was implemented and many environmental controls were imposed on manufacturing plants.
In only 20 years, from 1970 to 1990, $436 billion was spent in conforming to the new regulations; however, the net benefit of the Act was $6.8 trillion. (Nebel and Wright, 2000, p. 549). The net savings take into account the “avoided costs” of improved human health, less damage by acid rain, less environmental clean-up, and conservation of fossil fuels. The U.S.
Government has been unwilling to put constraints on manufacturing and vehicular pollutants, while hiding behind the excuse that it could stifle the economy. While there may be some temporary stress put on consumers and manufacturers by more stringent pollution restrictions, the long-term benefits will far outweigh the consequences. It has been proven that there are real savings to be seen by implementing more efficient manufacturing processes and the creation of jobs in the field of resource conservation. The technology is available and some regulations are already in the law books, but government and public support must be present to enforce these laws and implement the technology. For example, the State of California’s Air Restriction Board passed legislation stating that all major manufacturers wishing to sell cars in California would need to sell a “significant” number of Zero Emissions Vehicles in order to make a market in the state. Though this may appear to be strict mandate, its enforcement has been less than noteworthy.
Even its wording, “significant”, leads to lackadaisical interpretation and is difficult to enforce. The technology has been developed and is available to create commuter vehicles that produce very few harmful emissions and have a very minimal impact on non-renewable resources. The average American home is only about half as efficient as current technology could make it. Large appliances, such as the refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner, and furnace could be made to use less than 35% of the power as compared to their current power drainage. Insulating techniques can conserve an additional 5 to 10% in heating and cooling costs.
Again, the technology is available, but both society and government must be committed to its implementation and development. Conclusion The current levels of consumption currently being maintained by mankind do not allow for a continued sustainability of society and the environment. If mankind does not change the way in which it relies on resources, the earth will eventually become uninhabitable. However, mankind has the opportunity and the foresight to change its behavior to prevent this. A sustainable future is very possible, even without a great decrease in the amenities that the current global society enjoys and man’s existence on Earth could be sustained perpetually. The deciding factor in man’s ability to coexist within the earth’s biosphere will be in how a global society’s priorities can be changed to put the environment ahead of its collective pocketbook. Lifestyle Sustainability Individual non-sustainable Running water?practices Ways in which individuals can conserve Water Water Taking baths everyday Stagger?while brushing teeth Turn off water until needed ? Running dishwasher half full Only run with full loads ?days or shower instead Running?Hand-washing dishes w/ full sink of water Only fill sink half full Watering lawn?washing machine w/ small loads Only run full loads of laundry Watering lawn during day Water at night?every day Only water every third day Un-landscaped lawn Landscape; add bushes on property line to avoid?Soil Soil Trashing all waste produced Recycle glass,?erosion; use terracing Waste Waste paper, plastic & Changing car oil Ta?aluminum; build a compost heap ke to Old cans of paint Take to approved site to dispose?approved site to dispose Heaters? Air conditioning units Check yearly for proper operation ?Air Air Aerosol cans Use products that do not have?Check yearly for proper operation Cars/Trucks Properly emission to air standards; Use mass transit; Do not?CFC’s Cigarette smoke Stop smoking Energy Energy?buy vehicles known to pollute more Outside lights on all? Leaving lights running Turn lights off during day ? Heat left on all day Customize?night Use motion activated security lights Air conditioner on all day Turn off?thermostat to turn heat off during daytime Use of heater for heat needs Use solar panels to?air conditioner during day Loss of heat through doors/windows?help reduce energy drain for heat needs Install new door/window frames & insulate all exterior walls and attic Political Issues.