Environmental Degredation and Sustainability

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The ecosystem is a very fragile thing. What was once a subsistent primitive world where humans were a part of nature, has now become a world of consumption and exploitation of our natural environment (Benton 13). Somewhere along the lines, it seems that we have separated ourselves from nature and created this alternate human world, where nature is nothing more than a resource, with economic value for us to exploit. In contemporary times we are beginning to see the effects of this separation, and perhaps a glimpse into a devastating future. In his writing entitled ‘Environmental Degradation and Sustainability‘, Philip Woodhouse clearly sums up the above-mentioned issues, creating a link between environmental degradation and development, particularly in Third World countries. His pessimistic view: that any form of sustainable development in the Third World is highly unlikely, due to our present-day status, is very convincing and very difficult to contest due to the irrefutable evidence which is presented within his argument (Woodhouse). As the Western world prospers and continues to grow economically, underdeveloped countries are trying to stay afloat and ‘catch up‘ to the West, while degrading the environment even further. As Woodhouse puts it, “in order to supply everyone in the world with a level of consumption equal to that now enjoyed by those in industrialized countries, global energy consumption would need to increase fivefold, entailing a similar increase in the atmospheric pollution which results from energy generation through burning coal, oil or gas”(Woodhouse 145). Only in the past thirty years or so has environmental sustainability become a mainstream concern. In 1982, the international concern was expressed with the writing of the Brundtland Commission. This report defined the idea of sustainable development as: “Development that meets the

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