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Sustainable Development

Teacher/Instructor Patrick Roisen
Patrick Roisen

M.Ed., Stanford University
Winner of multiple teaching awards

Patrick has been teaching AP Biology for 14 years and is the winner of multiple teaching awards.

Sustainable development is the usage of natural resources for human needs in a way that preserves the environment that produces those resources so they can be used in the future. Scientists argue that sustainable development has many benefits and that it maintains biodiversity, ensures future resources for economic stability, encourages greater efficiency and often reduces the impact of natural disasters.

Sustainable development is sometimes a kind of nebulous idea when people are talking about, but in general the idea of sustainable development is the idea that you can set it up so that you're using natural resources for human needs, for things like lumber, for our houses and other materials like that. But you do it such way that you preserve the environment that produces those resources so that you can continue to use them for future years or even future generations. Now there's a lot of reasons that people want to do sustainable development. One of the biggest one is basically maintains the environment the way things are because we like things generally the way things are. We like to know what the weather patters are going to be, we like to see the animals and everything else that are out there. And by maintaining an environment in a healthy manner it make sure that environment has the bio-diversity to sustain itself in the event of some kind of a natural disaster or disease or whatever.
This also keeps the resources that you are using around for future purposes and that maintains economic stability. For example if you're a timber company and you chop down trees, well if you've got a forest you can chop them all down but without trees to make new trees where are you going to make your money the next year? So in sustainable development the idea is that if say you chop down, I'm just going to invent a number say 10 percent of the forest down every ten years, hopefully over the course of time the remaining 90 percent will be able to regenerate the 10 percent that are missing. And so if you maintain a forest, manage a forest in such a way that will be a constant source of resources and of course profit for the company.
This also encourages efficiency which is a great way to save money if you're not wasting money for energy and other purposes. It also winds up having the effect of reducing the impact of natural disasters. If you look at some of the recent horrible monsoons and hurricanes like Hurricane Katrina part of the problem that was caused with Hurricane Katrina had been over development of some of the areas that would otherwise had been natural swamps and other things that would have reduced the impact of some of the flooding and other events. By encouraging sustainable development we can help create this buffer zones that not only are nice for the environmental purposes but will help maintain our property. Now, why would anybody be against this ideas? Well it can be costly to set up and it also winds up taking more time and it can slow the rate of expansion. And if you are say for example a developing country you may look at an area that is just forest and you maybe thinking I want that to be farm land. Well it's hard to convince another country that they should make sacrifices to maintain things for the way we want. So it becomes this really tough thing to try to figure out how to balance the demands that we have for things like paper, and lumber and minerals, and the demands that the environment has to maintain the climate the way things are.