“Unfortunately, the current pace of progress is not nearly rapid enough, with many rich industrialized countries being slow to make the transition to cleaner and more efficient forms of economic growth.”
~ Nicholas Stern, in his article “Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict” (2014)
Given our current state of environmental affairs, I gather that Stern uses this quote to exemplify a correlation he holds between rich, industrialized nations, current global climate change, and the future outlook of global climate change. Our current trajectory of economic growth is unsustainable over the long term. Unsustainable economic growth is a primary driver of the environmental pollution and degradation we see and experience around us. The severity and degree of degradation and pollution varies across socioeconomic and geographic scales.
Progress has led to the conveniences and advances in areas such as travel, activities of daily living, lifespan, technology, and healthcare, but not without a price borne by domestic and international society as a whole. Rich, industrialized countries create environmental problems such as air and water pollution and climate change exacerbation that affects poorer, non-industrialized countries, which are the most vulnerable and least resilient to tackle such problems.
The rise of “big businesses” became most pronounced after the American Civil War and into the early twentieth century. Corporate power, wealth, and influence currently stymie the transition to sustainable economic grow. These corporations maintain investments that span decades in commodities like coal, oil, garbage, and natural gas and exert
significant lobbying at all levels of government. Sustainable economic growth, which includes but is not limited to renewable energy, smart growth, urban revitalization, sustainable storm water management, fossil fuel divestments, and waste minimization, has no reliance on those commodities. We must unite and sound a stronger, collective voice that, in conjunction with new governmental policies and regulations, will instigate the transition to cleaner and more efficient forms of economic growth. We must do our part to practice and promote economic, social, and environmental sustainability in our professional and personal lives. This collective work allows us to act as a model to other nations and will help put us on track for a sustainable future.
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~by Angelo Teachout
photo credit of Nicholas Stern: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e5/Nicholas_Stern.jpg