Essay on Sustainable Development

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Sustainable Development

Sustainable development was defined in the Bruntland Report in 1983 as
“development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Dresner, 31) This is a satisfactory definition for most people, however, when it comes down to the policies of sustainable development, the definition given proves dangerously vague. Interpretations that stem from it can range from ‘do not touch any of the earth’s natural resources ever again’ to
‘use them up as quickly as possible.’

There are three main philosophies behind sustainability: weak, strong, and environmental. Weak sustainability states that the total capital of the earth must not
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Thus, it is viable to say that sustainable development is a “contestable concept.” (Dresner, 66) Three different authors, Wilfred Beckerman, Simon Dresner, and Andres Edwards, each propose different opinions in their books about sustainability. Beckerman and Dresner are opposite extremes, while Edwards splits the middle between the two by keeping mostly to the laws and written principles and showing little opinion until the last chapter of his book.

Wilfred Beckerman does not get out enough. He is a technological optimist that sees the earth merely as a tool to benefit the human existence. His whole book is centered purely on the belief that humans today should use up as much of the resources as they can in order to benefit our economy, which he claims will be stronger in the future anyway. He says that if we stop mulling over whether to use resources or not now, we will greatly increase the strength of our economy and as a result be able to become more educated. With a greater knowledge of the way things work, we will be able to find alternative sources of energy.

“Resources are either finite, or they are not. If they are, then the only way to ensure that they last forever is to stop using them.” (Beckerman, 9) He poses an obvious but sometimes forgotten point here. Unless we completely stop using specific resources right now, we will run out of them. Or will we? Beckerman also states that we cannot run out of resources because as

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