About 90 years ago, in his book “The Biosphere” published in 1926, Russian biogeologist Vladimir Volnadsky was the first to realize the meaning of the interdependence between life and the structure of the earth. His “Eureka” may be unremarkable to the indigenous people, and their survival is closely related to the earth.
However, in today’s society, even though we acknowledge our dependence on the earth’s resources-its water, oxygen and other natural elements—perhaps we do not realize the connection between the chemical economy and the earth. Perhaps the depth of this interdependence has been concealed by our search for happiness through materialism and economic growth; or, if our country cannot achieve a higher GDP and our business has no profits, we may not know what to do. So, as individuals, how can we flourish?
The call for sustainable development is growing
The importance of this long-recognized but ostensibly accepted interdependence is that the earth’s natural resources and any economic growth that depends on them are limited-if these restrictions are not respected, the future will be severely affected. People are increasingly worried about our ability to achieve sustainable development, that is, our ability to meet our own needs while ensuring that future generations can meet their needs.
In the past 40 years, the initial simple concern for the environment has developed into a widespread concern, prompting actions by people from the government to the private sector. In 1972, members of the Club of Rome (Club of Rome), composed of thinkers in politics, business, and science, published disturbing assumptions, stating that unlimited population growth, pollution, and depletion of natural resources would lead to the collapse of geophysical growth. .
In 1983, world leaders established the Brundtland Commission to focus on the overlapping areas that sustain life on Earth: economy, environment, and society.
In the past ten years, more and more voices have joined this choir, deepening our understanding of the interdependence between economic and social and environmental sustainability. These new sounds add volume and harmony to the chorus, suggesting that we may be able to find alternatives to economic growth by measuring happiness other than GDP or profit.
In the simplest form, we can think of economic growth as an intensified cycle, which is a term for systems thinking; that is, growth sustains growth, just like a snowball accumulates more layers when it rolls down a snowy mountain.
In the short term, the benefits of economic growth are many: the more companies and countries grow and make profits, the more job opportunities, resources, and quality of life that individuals have. At this moment in human history, technology has created amazing products, global travel, fast communications, amazing efficiency and unimaginable leisure. As consumers demand more and more, the economic growth brought about by all these technological miracles will indeed be self-sufficient.
However, for growth, the economy also depends on natural resources and emits waste that pollutes the air and threatens the fragile climate on which lives depend. Behind these scenarios, there are other intensified cycles, which are caused by the unlimited use of natural resources (such as oil and gas that promote economic growth) and the technological advancement of extracting the last bit of energy from the earth. These balancing forces undermine the foundation of economic growth and, in the long run, will create a sinkhole that swallows the economy, environment, and society. In addition, we are now living in the toxic by-products of carbon-based resources. Pulitzer Prize-winning geography professor Jared Diamond’s 2005 book “Crash: How Society Chooses Failure or Success”, Bill McGibbon’s 2011 book “Earth”, and former US Vice President Al Gore The 2013 book “Future”. The six drivers of global change provide a compelling reason for global warming and climate change, which are caused by carbon dioxide and other chemicals emitted by the carefree use of carbon energy.