Global Environmental Issues
Exploring this discipline that relates to environmental issues of pollution, sustainability and depletion of limited resources has greatly enhanced my disposition on environmental issues. The course has delved into the critical issues of depletion of resources, environmental sustainability and their implication to human interaction with the environment. The discourse addresses historical background of environmental issues and their transition to the modern-day socio-economic realm. Various scholars and environmentalists have presented arguments and counter-arguments on environmental issues of sustainability, and human interaction with the environment in this course. While some address the human intellectual perceptions, ethics, and laws relating to the natural world, some have delved into issues of sustainability of the natural environment. I importantly noted that though diverse, all Ideas point to the impact of the human practice on environmental issues. All political, economic policies and ideas materialize in the natural environment.
Though all arguments offer valuable insights, they open a myriad of mental constructions, perceptions and ethical dilemmas on the interplay of environmental issues in the context of the political, socio-economic realm. The course offers critical exposure to the modern principles of ecology and environmental sciences and has challenged my interpretation and value of notions of sustainability and biodiversity. This paper synthesizes the course material and reflects upon how they relate to the environmental issues in this course. The essay incorporates international treaties, institutions and additional vital facts and concepts to analyze the various motivation derived from the course.
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Concept of sustainability
One of the outstanding concepts in the course was the concept of sustainability and sustainable development as embodied in the traditional and postmodern society. What is encouraging is the fact that the concept of sustainability has become widely accepted and now sustainability is defined in the context of its ability to influence environmentally sound practices. The United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development in its Brundtland Report defines sustainable development as that which, without affecting the ability to meet needs for future generations, meets the needs of the current generation. However, according to the world’s environmentalists Richard Heinberg, this definition of sustainability disregards the problem of population growth and fails to note unsustainability in the utilization of nonrenewable resources explicitly (Heinberg, 1)
Sustainability Counter argument
However, there remains a dilemma in defining sustainability and sustainable development; there is still debate on the concept and its role in the understanding of environmental issues on the use of renewable and nonrenewable resources. As the basis upon which government policies on issues of depletion of limited environmental resources are formulated, the concept has failed to offer critical understanding into what constitutes unsustainable and sustainable use of resources. However sustainability and sustainable development remain a debatable term, Heinberg’s work on the Foundational Concepts of Sustainability makes us understand that discontinued rate of use of nonrenewable resource achieves sustainability (Heinberg, 5) Resources such water is essential to the maintenance of life and necessary to produce food and usable energy. Therefore all government policies on the use of renewable resources should be formulated based on the question of sustainability and sustainable development.
This course also highlighted critical global environmental issues of climate and energy policy and how they affect the economic growth. The global energy policy renews optimism on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency. It helped me understand the critical issues of energy efficiency on emissions trading, renewable energy, and quality of air. However, policies relating to environmental pollution through emissions face some challenges. Lack of compliance with emission standards by the car industry, aviation and shipping raises health concerns and threatens the local quality of air ((European Union, 26). The rapid expansion of diesel cars has also affected car fuel-efficiency. This dramatically changes the effort sharing objective that proposes a 30% reduction in GHG emissions.
The European Union has played an essential role in formulating essential elements on emission trading system. These essential elements intend to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through set national targets. The course shade light on the European Union’s formulated elements that encompass a directive to utilize 20% of renewable energy (European Union, 11). Essential elements also include directive to support energy efficiency.
The European Union’s policies are arguably regulatory barriers, they have relieved the Global energy policies as key considerations that should meet energy security, climate, and energy cost objectives. In a simple evaluation, the transition to a sustainable low-carbon society may seem to be an ambitious climate policy. It is, however, the cornerstone that couples GHG emissions and GDP growth (European Union, 16). The course needs to harmonize the importance of climate and energy policies and how they affect the economic growth. Climate changes has not taken the center stage on integrating issue that increasingly affects policy even in agriculture and transport.
Environmentalism in the Global Perspective
Environmentalism is a social movement that uses education and activism in civil societies such as NGOs, churches, and trade unions movements to protect the ecosystems and natural resources (Lecture 5 Slide, 2). The civil society’s declining concerns for environment protection in U.S. since the 1970s extends to other parts of the world, throughout history. Lecture five outlines the unique set of the environmental movement of social, and political movement (Lecture 5 Slide, 5) The Environmentalism discourse brings hope to the understanding that humanity is a participant in ecosystems. It is through environmentalism that Heinberg’s concept of sustainable development can be achieved (Lecture 5 Slide, 4)
Despite the many environmental action plans designed in through the help of the civil society, gaps still exist in the international environmental policy framework. Through media appeals, direct action of campaigns and boycotts, forestry stewardship council the civil society has not achieved a strategic framework that addresses the discrete global environmental issues. Global Civil Society through facilitation by the internet and partnering with other human rights & social justice coalitions has created a global action network in dealing with matters of climate and toxic wastes. It has since applied local action on the global issues.
Counter argument on environmentalism in the Global Perspective
Though effective in the context of the local level, the framework has failed to become effective on the global platform. The ecosystem is still filled with dust and smoke due to human activities. The incidents send an alarm to mankind on the compelling need to protect the environment. The globe has damaged the global environment, and therefore international environmental efforts should focus on environmental restoration and not protection.
Science and global environmental politics
The course offered eye-opening experience into the concept of science and global environmental politic. Its special focus on acid rain informs a great deal of concern in global environmental politics. The lecture identified air pollution emanating from burning of fossil fuels as the major cause of acid rain. Acid rain forms in the clouds in places where nitrogen oxides react with oxygen to form a mild solution of nitric acid (Lecture 9 Slide, 4). The course has opened a new understanding into the long-range transport of air pollution. In fact, deaths recorded in German forest death due to Sulphur acid account for 30% club (Lecture 9 Slide, 4). It was indeed an eye-opening experience in the possibilities acid rain as a result of stratospheric ozone depletion. The idea triggers the concerns of science, uncertainty, and risk (Lecture 9 Slide 2). The lack of complete information in science and global environmental politics subjects the concept of uncertainty.
Counter argument Science and global environmental politics
Suffice to say; acid rain is a threat to human health and the environment. The concept is however over emphasized and lacks full scientific proof of causality. The precautionary principle of the embryonic principle of international law should inform critical consideration in the management of sustainable environmental conservation efforts (Lecture 9 Slide, 5). What scares is the lack of a coherent approach in dealing with matters of Acid rain. The fact that acid rain threat to human health and the environment tempts me towards despair. This is because frantic efforts to rescue the ozone layer seem to diminish each day. For instance, the deaths recorded in German forest death due to Nitrogen acid account is a depiction of how helpless human exists is in the face of environmental degradation (Lecture 9 Slide, 4).
Studying global environmental issues has been a very informative exercise that has greatly changed my perception and myths on environmental issues. With this broad knowledge base on environmental issues, the misconceptions and over exaggerated reporting on the future of the planet that tend to scare the public have now been sanitized. It brings hope that the key stake holders are playing a major preemptive role in curbing pollution, management of natural resource, controlled population growth. Whats, more environmentalist’s scholars, have for a long time now developed written records that now help for comparison of previous outcomes with the modern outcomes. My greatest sense of hope is on how global environmental change is now an issue of international concern. The fact that all nations now focus on the interactions of environmental systems with and human systems helps us realize that environmental concerns require the responses of all stakeholders.
I am however tempted to despair due to the rapid global warming that seems to affect ecosystems faster than humans respond and adapt naturally to the changes. The sensitivity of the Arctic to climatic change and ocean biodiversity has already been affected. This rapid climatic change has accelerated biodiversity loss and is now threating human life. This is because human life depends on the food chain for water sources, medicines and other resources. Climate change seems to become a significant threat to future progressively.
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