In William Clarks’ Article, “Managing Planet Earth” from the Scientific American sustainable development describes the type of planet people want, and also brings up the question of what kind of planet people can actually get. It reflects values for managing earth where fairness matters. Sustainable development refers to how people as a whole want to improve the earth for the better by sustaining it while it is being developed. The three objectives to manage the sustainable development are: To gain the knowledge and ability to control the human population. To distribute the energy and economic growth to all human population now and in the near future. As well as structuring the growth so that their potential cannot transform the environment. Humans have been living on earth for quit a while. In the past pollution was dealt with on and individual basis. Today the matter is much greater and concerns the world as a whole.
In recent years environmental matters of concern have been brought up. Since the beginning of the 18th century, earth has lost six million square kilometers of forest. Humans also consume more water. In the past an average human consumed 100 cubic kilometers of water that number today has jumped to 3,600. The development of industry and aquiculture in the past 300 years has doubled the amount of methane and other chemicals into the atmosphere and has increased the absorption of carbon dioxide by 25 percent. There is also a pattern of transformation in the areas of deforestation and soil erosion. The Destruction of floral diversity, flow of sediments, and withdrawals of water from the hydrological cycle also plays an important part in our environmental change. Another concern with the planet’s environment is the processing of chemical elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur.
These chemicals have a major impact on the earth’s climate. The human activity involved with these chemicals has created a disturbance in the chemical flow that has resulted in smog, acid precipitation, and stratospheric ozone depletion along with many other problems. Although there are a lot of environmental concerns there are also a lot of improvements. In places such as Sweden, Japan, and the northeastern U.S. there has been a drastic improvement in their regional environment. Forests have expanded, sulfur emissions have declined, and animals that were once extinct have been reintroduced into the region. Improvements must be made in the information of existing price systems, regulations, and economic reasons. Currently the failure to track down the real environmental costs of human activities has encouraged the unnecessary use of resources.
The dramatically high prices for many agricultural products have caused problems with land degradation and pollution in many parts of the world. There is a need for a formal international agreement in the area of substances that deplete the ozone layer. Also to discuss the possibility of an international law for the atmosphere. With many countries such as the Soviet Union, Kenya, and Sweden trying to make a difference in sustainable development. The answers to what kind of planet can people get? And what kind of planet do people want? Can soon be answered as the development is sustainable.
Clark, William C. “Managing Planet Earth”. Scientific American. Sept. 1989. Vol. 261. No. 3.