Why Do We Need Eco Solutions?
In 1820 there were around one billion people in the entire world. Today, that is less than the population of China alone. The world’s population has rapidly increased in the last 50 years, more than doubling to reach 6.5 billion people in the world today. While the population continues to increase, our access to natural resources stays the same. This means that there are now more people using the same amount of natural resources. The current rate at which humans consume resources and produce waste is unsustainable. The Earth will not be able to maintain this imbalance forever.
Sustainability is a concept which promotes equality between the people of today and the people of tomorrow. The idea of sustainability is to create a balance between our ecological, social and economic needs. Our needs of today must be taken care of in such a way that it does not negatively impact the needs of the next generations.
Ecological sustainability refers to the capacity of the biosphere to meet the needs of the present generation, without hindering future generations from being able to meet their needs. This means using our natural resources wisely in the short-term so that these resources are available in the long-term. Ecological sustainability relies on the fact that humans have the ability to exhaust (overuse) our natural resources, leaving nothing but polluted water and infertile soil for future generations. Ecological sustainability is the belief that all humans must use resources wisely and efficiently so that these resources never become exhausted or over polluted.
Sustainable development is a concept which promotes meeting the development needs of today’s population, without impacting the ability of future generations to achieve their developmental needs. It means that generations in the future will have the same access that we do to the resources of the Earth. Sustainable development focuses on both the short-term and long-term impacts of environmental management decisions. It also considers the impacts that decisions will have upon a variety of communities and ecosystems around the world.
Conservation is based on the idea of using the Earth’s resources but in a sustainable manner. This means using renewable resources at a rate which ensures they are able to self-replenish. It also means reducing our use of and reliance on non-renewable resources, such as coal and oil.
Preservation is concerned with keeping things in their untouched form. This means reducing the spread of human impact on the physical environment by not touching things that are still in their natural state. This can mean both the natural environment, such as rainforests, and the cultural environment, such as the remains of an ancient civilisation. Preservation practices are seen in the creation of national parks and World Heritage Sites.
The Ecological (or Environmental) Footprint
Our current consumption of the Earth’s natural resources is ecologically unsustainable. A balance needs to exist to ensure that humans are not taking more from the environment than it can afford to give. The amount of pressure people put on the Earth can be measured through their ecological footprint. An ecological footprint is a way to measure the impact of resource consumption and waste production on the environment. Each person has an ecological footprint. People in urban areas generally have a larger ecological footprint than those people living in rural areas. Developed countries generally have larger ecological footprints than developing countries.
Human activities are placing a great deal of pressure on the Earth’s resources. As the demands of humans increase and the rate at which these demands need to be met also increases, the Earth is not being given the chance to replenish its resources. The present levels of human consumption are unsustainable.
To ensure that the environment is not destroyed forever, humans need to start living in a way which reduces their pressure on the environment and helps to preserve the Earth’s resources for the future (ecologically sustainable development). This means that humans not only need to avoid destroying the environment any further but also attempt to repair the resources which have already been damaged.
Non-renewable natural resources are diminishing and need to either be managed more carefully or conserved by using renewable resources. Everyone can assist in conserving the Earth’s resources. To do this, humans need to discontinue doing such things as excessively grazing land, over-fishing the waterways and polluting the air. Individuals can reduce their ecological footprint by turning off lights when they are not being used, recycling newspapers after they have been read, eating more organic vegetables and less meat, and walking or taking public transport rather than driving.