Saturday, July 11, 2015

Slowing the pace of climate change: An overview of our priorities to help ensure inter-generational equity.

Climate change is worldwide crisis triggered by population growth and economic activity. If we don’t take an effective approach to alleviate the crisis, the social well-being of future generations will deteriorate at a faster rate than ours. No matter where environmental degradation and pollution takes place, the negative effects of climate change affect people everywhere whether they live in rich countries or poor countries. Because people living in poor countries are only concerned in meeting their basic subsistence needs, they are a lot more likely than advanced societies to cause environmental degradation such as deforestation, depletion of vital natural resources, damage to ecosystems, and other types of environmental problems. I will point to some of the priorities that we face as a society which have been advanced by social scientists to promote sustainability across generations.

According to the World Development report, 95% of world population growth will occur in underdeveloped countries. In the same report, social scientists argue that fertility trends and demographic changes of the world population are two of the most important concerns for the analysis of sustainability as those two factors have a strong link to population growth as well as a strong link to poverty levels. Population increases of higher magnitudes places an enormous stress on the assimilative capacity of the environment, generates more wastes, and threatens the health conditions of people worldwide. In many regions of the world that experience extreme poverty, environmental degradation is inevitable, and under such circumstances technological change is not able to keep up with the demands of a growing population.  Poor countries lack the economic resources needed to invest in environmental protection. For this reason, the most effective approach to improve our current environmental situation is to help increase the income of poor countries. To improve the standard of living in developing countries, it becomes imperative to invest more in education with emphasis in expanding the economic opportunities of women, to increase investment in family planning, and to reduce infant mortality. Policy makers believe that without incentives and without appropriate policies, scarce resources will be utilized inefficiently, damage to the environment will be excessive, and the negative effects of development will dominate. Social scientists have come to realize that environmental sustainability can only be achieved after alleviating poverty and reducing inequality.  Once the very poor have more access to education, more access to sufficient credit, and appropriately defined property rights, they can start to invest in capital and other methods that can reduce environmental degradation.

If you would like to learn more about environmental protection approaches, facts about climate change, income inequality, and organizations devoted to the protection of the environment click the links below.

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