Environmental Awareness

The Meaning and Reasons For Sustainable Development

By Dickson Adom

Sustainable development is the strategic development of structures that seek to meet the needs of present and future generations through effective management and maintenance of the resources in the environment.

The main aim of sustainable development is to ensure that the present environmental needs of humans do not encroach on those that the future generations would also need and use. It is bent on sustaining thus 'maintaining' or 'preserving' the bio-resources that we have now so that the future generations would also have them in ample supply. An "unsustainable situation" occurs when natural capital (the sum total of nature's resources) is used up faster than it can be replenished or replaced. Sustainability requires that human activity only uses nature's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally.

Sustainable development is essential and relevant to the preservation and sustenance of our rich resources in nature. Some of the reasons and relevance of sustainable development are discussed below.

i. To preserve and have enough resources for future

It is very important to sustain the resources in the environment to ensure that they will not be in short supply in the future. If the resources in the environment are not sustained, we and the future generations would not have them in abundant supply to meet the challenges confronting the world.

ii. To sustain the survival of the industry

The natural resources from the environment are a bank supply of raw materials to the numerous industries of the world. Their livelihood and survival of these industries largely depend on these raw materials obtained from the environment. It is these raw materials that are used in the production of several products for the usage and benefit of members of the society. If these natural resources were to be in extinction, it would result in the collapse of these industries.

iii. To prevent depletion of the resources

The resources in the environment are prevented from permanently dying out if the measures for sustaining them are developed. Sustainable development helps the natural resources to be in constant supply.

iv. Prevent global warming

Sustenance of the natural resources in the environment prevents global warming. Global warming is an increase in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere especially a sustained increase that causes climatic changes in the environment. This usually results in warm and hot climates that extinct several plants and animal species making activities in life quite unbearable. If the resources in the environment are maintained, this problem would be curbed.

v. Prevent deforestation and bushfires

Sustainable development dictates that fallen down trees and plants must be replaced through reforestation. The opposite is deforestation which is the depletion of the plant resources in the environment which results most often in bushfires. The burning of the forest causes most of the natural resources to fade out of the environment.

vi. Encourage self-reliance

The preservation of them in the environment helps a country to rely on itself without resorting to the help from other countries. For example, if a country had preserved all of its natural resources such as timber, gold, rubber, etc., she would not need to rely on any countries' help. Unfortunately today, many countries import raw materials from other countries to feed their local industries. If every country of the world is able to maintain her natural resources, it would encourage self-reliance and our world would be a better place worth living.

vii. Help the youth develop their artistic talents and acquire employable skills to reduce poverty.

The youth have been given natural talents by God and they are able to develop these talents by exploring the resources in the environment to produce functional items, which can be sold to earn money and reduce poverty in the country. Interesting compositions of scenes are made with raffia, seeds, plywood, shells etc. They can be bought and used as wall hangings. The truth is that if these resources were not available, the talents of the youth would have remained hidden and unexplored resulting in extreme poverty.

These discussed points underscore the need to implement measures for sustainable development of the natural resources in our environment.

The Effect of Deforestation

By Nathalie Fiset

Deforestation is the process of converting forested lands into non-forest sites that are ideal for crop raising, urbanization and industrialization. Because deforestation is a serious concept, there are also serious effects to the surroundings.

Effects of deforestation can be classified and grouped into effects to biodiversity, environment and social settings. Because deforestation basically involves killing trees in forests, there are so many effects that can be enumerated as results of the activity.
When forests are killed, nature basically requires people to renew the forest. Reforestation is one concept that is in the opposite direction as deforestation, but is proven to be a much harder effort than deforestation.

So the rate of deforestation has not been offset by the rate of reforestation. Thus, the world is now in a troubled state when it comes to issues concerning the environment.

Pollution is rapidly growing along with population. Forests are greatly helping reduce the amount of pollutants in the air. So, the depletion of these groups of trees is greatly increasing the risk that carbon monoxide would reach the atmosphere and result in the depletion of the ozone layer, which in turn results to global warming.

Environment change

One major effect of deforestation is climate change. Changes to the surroundings done by deforestation work in many ways, One, there is abrupt change in temperatures in the nearby areas. Forests naturally cool down because they help retain moisture in the air.
Second is the long process of global climate change. As mentioned above, deforestation has been found to contribute to global warming or that process when climates around the world become warmer as more harmful rays of the sun comes in through the atmosphere.

The ozone layer is a mass of oxygen or O3 atoms that serves as shield in the atmosphere against the harmful ultraviolet rays from the sun. Because ozone is made up of oxygen atoms, oxygen reacts with carbon monoxide. Such reaction would use up oxygen atoms.

It follows that when there are more carbon monoxide atoms going to the atmosphere, the volume of oxygen would decline. Such is the case of ozone depletion.

The third effect to the environment would be on the water table underneath the ground. Water table is the common source of natural drinking water by people living around forests.

Water table is replenishing. That means, the supply of water underground could also dry up if not replenished regularly. When there is rain, forests hold much of the rainfall to the soil through their roots.

Thus, water sinks in deeper to the ground, and eventually replenishing the supply of water in the water table. Now, imagine what happens when there is not enough forests anymore. Water from rain would simply flow through the soil surface and not be retained by the soil.

Or other than that, the water from rain would not stay in the soil longer, for the process of evaporation would immediately set in. Thus, the water table is not replenished, leading to drying up of wells.

Effect to biodiversity

Forests are natural habitats to many types of animals and organisms. That is why, when there is deforestation, many animals are left without shelters, those that manage to go through the flat lands and residential sites, are then killed by people.

Through the years, it is estimated that there are millions of plant and extinct animal species that have been wiped out because they have been deprived of home. Thus, biodiversity is significantly lowered because of the savage deforestation practices of some people.

Wildlife advocates have been constantly reminding that several wild animals left in the world could still be saved if deforested forests would only be reforested and the practice of slash and burn of forests would be totally abandoned.

Social effects of deforestation

Deforestation is hardly hitting the living conditions of indigenous people who consider forests as their primary habitats. Imagine how they are rendered homeless when forests are depleted. These natives would be forced to live elsewhere, and are usually left to becoming mendicants in rural and urban areas.

Overall, effects of deforestation cannot be offset by the contribution of the practice to development. While it is logical that progress is very much needed by mankind, it must also be noted that nature knows no defeat. Destruct it and it would certainly retaliate, one way or another.

Alternative Energy Sources for a Cleaner World

By Peter Emson

The search for "alternative energy sources" is a worldwide effort. There are many government bodies, universities and scientists around the world all working to find ways of replacing conventional fossil fuels with the newest green energy. Most people are in agreement that as the world slowly moves to depleting the Earth of its natural resources, we need to reduce our dependency on non-renewable sources of energy such as the common types of fossil fuels known as coal, petroleum oil and natural gas.

Alternative energies fill the gap between non-realistic free energy sources and the more traditional fossil fuels. Once upon a time nuclear energy was seen as the answer to our global energy problem. The huge amounts of energy that could be produced from a small amount of uranium was seen as the future way to power our planet as it produces a clean energy with no contribution to global warming. But as we know, like fossil fuels, uranium is also a finite natural resource that over time will run out.

Alternative Energy generally refers to any group of non-traditional fuel sources that do not burn fossil fuels or use up any natural resources that will result in damage or harm to the environment. In other words "Alternative Energy" is a cleaner and greener energy, well at least in theory.

Alternative energy sources provide many advantages and benefits over the use of the more traditional fossil fuels such as less pollution and cheaper fuel costs, but the downside is that these alternative energy sources are not always available when we need them as sometimes the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine. But with the aid of modern technologies available today can make full use of these alternatives when they are available. So let's take a look at some of the most common alternative energy sources and see how each one works.

1. The Power of the Sun

The sun has always provided the Earth with a great source of heat and light energy. In its simplest terms, solar energy is the radiant energy derived from sunlight and by using several different methods we can convert this solar energy into electrical energy using solar photovoltaic cells. These photovoltaic cells produce an alternative source of energy commonly known as "Solar Power". Solar power pollution free since its source comes completely from the sun's rays.

Solar thermal heating uses the heat energy of the sun to heat water or other such thermally conductive fluids such as oil which flow through a set of thermally conducting metal pipes enclosed within a solar panel or reflective dish. Solar hot water heating using roof mounted flat pate solar panels is a cost effective way to generate lots of cheap hot water for your home just using the power of the sun.

We all know the benefits of using the suns energy to heat water, but the suns energy can also be used in solar pool heating systems to help heat the large quantities of cold water in an outdoor swimming pool without the need for expensive electrical pool heating units. Heating a pool with flat plate collectors can also increase the recreational use of an outdoor swimming pool by up to four months during the year just by using the free energy from the sun.

2. The Force of the Wind

Wind energy is power or energy derived from the movement of the wind which is harnessed by windmills, sails, and more commonly wind turbines. Windmills have been in existence for many thousands of years long before the birth of Christ, helping to power sailing boats, pump water and grind corn. Wind Power is all about converting the motional kinetic energy of the wind into physical mechanical energy for driving machines or pumps, or converting it into electricity energy to power our homes.

Wind energy has the ability to generate many megawatts of electricity and is quickly becoming the most invested in alternative energy resource. Wind farms are being erected everywhere with enormous arrays of three bladed windmills dotted across the landscape. Of course, there is nothing new in using windmills or wind turbines for capturing energy. Today's wind turbines are just more modern variations on the old theme. But these monsters of the landscape can help do away with conventional coal fired power stations. Wind energy is an excellent renewable source of energy and will go a long way in promising a good future to generations to come.

3. The Movement of Water

Hydro energy or water energy is an effective renewable energy that harnesses the energy or power produced by moving water using waterwheels and water turbines. The most common form of hydro energy is hydro-electric power which uses the potential energy of the water in large reservoirs held behind huge dams. The energy stored in the water is then used to rotate large electrical turbines to generate electricity. It's estimated that about 90 percent of all the electrical energy produced by renewable resources is generated solely by hydro electric power.

Tidal energy or tidal power as it is also called is another hydro energy resource which uses the movement or kinetic energy of the seas and oceans to generate electricity. New water power technologies such as marine and hydro-kinetic devices can transform the energy of the waves, tides, ocean currents and the natural flow of estuaries into sustainable clean energy. Tidal energy requires a large capital investment in dams, turbines and support ships, but once a "tidal power" plant is built the energy it generates is essentially free with the system being relatively inexpensive to run.

4. Fuel from the Earth

Another interesting alternative energy source that can also be classed as a "renewable energy resource" is the development of Biomass and Bioenergy. Biomass energy is made from agricultural crops and organic plant materials such as wood, peat, grasses and straw grown specifically to be burnt as fuels to generate heat and power as well as organic waste in the form of biodegradable materials, garbage, compost, animal manure and other waste products which can be converted into usable energy. Bioenergy is the energy derived from the Biomass (organic matter) which is sustainable as new crops and forests can be grown to replace those that have been harvested.

Geothermal is an alternative energy source that uses the natural buried heat from within the Earths core. Geothermal energy makes use of the enormous amount of energy stored as heat in the water deep below the Earths surface with the most prominent and visual example of this coming from "Geysers" and "Hot Springs" ejecting large columns of very hot water, steam and gases high up into the air. Water heated by underground magmatic activity is pumped to the surface and used to generate electricity or to heat buildings using geothermal heat pumps.

We have seen that the sun's energy can be used to create other forms of energy. Some of these alternative fuel sources above are not new. For centuries people have harnessed the power of running water in rivers and streams for a variety of needs, particularly for farming and transport. Water wheels and windmills have been used for many thousands of years to grind corn and husks to make flour for bread and a variety of different foods. Even passive solar energy was used to warm homes and dry clothes. Some forms of these "alternative energy sources" above are really just improvements of long-existing older technologies. But with the advancement of technology in the modern age other types of alternative energies are genuinely new, such as bioenergy, fuel cells and solar panels.

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.

~ Aldo Leopold