Sustainable Development: Definition, Obstacles & Impact

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  • 0:01 Sustainable Development
  • 1:06 Obstacles & Impact
  • 3:20 Sustainable…
  • 4:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Let's discuss the idea of sustainable development. Then, let's looks at the obstacles involved with developing the world's economy to meet the needs of the present without hurting future generations. After the video, test what you learned through our practice quiz.

Sustainable Development

Is there a breaking point to Earth's ability to support life? Many scientists believe in the limits to growth hypothesis, which implicates that society is ignoring signs that Earth's carry capacity is reaching its maximum limit.

Carrying capacity, also known as the ecological footprint, is the amount of basic elements, such as water, a population requires to make the resources it uses and to eliminate its wastes. At some point, Earth may no longer be able to support the world's population. Businesses may actually have a solution to preserving our world's resources. Many global businesses have adopted sustainable development as part of their overall business strategy, which requires that natural resources are used at an amount that can be extended over an infinite period.

Let's examine the idea of sustainable development and the obstacles to developing the world's economy to meet the needs of the present without hurting future generations. After all, wouldn't you want your children to inherit a healthy Earth?

Obstacles and Impact

Although the idea of sustainable development seems to be the perfect solution to save our Earth's resources, not all businesses support the idea. Ms. Sustainability has discovered that many companies do not want to support her ideas. A major obstacle to sustainable development is that many businesses only care about profits and not about saving Earth's natural resources. Another obstacle is that companies wrongfully believe that there will always be a plentiful supply of Earth's resources. The impact from this type of corporate thought is devastating to the environment. Though water and forests can be replenished, if the rate of depletion is faster than growth, the resource will also disappear.

According to Ms. Sustainability, many corporations are polluting our resources, which impacts future generations that will not be able to use those resources as they cannot be fixed. For example, a top company in the U.S. is responsible for polluting the Hudson River. In addition, nonrenewable resources, such as fossil fuels like oil, are gone forever once the Earth's reserve is depleted. Ms. Sustainablity explains that there is no way for business to reproduce oil and gas. Currently, the rate of depletion and pollution is not at a sustainable rate for life to continue infinitely.

According to Ms. Sustainability, there are three critical factors that have resulted in hastening Earth's environmental catastrophe and making sustainable development extremely challenging to implement. She calls it her triple challenge. The first is the Earth's population explosion, which has put a huge strain on Earth's natural resources. The world's population has dramatically increased quickly in the last two hundred years with no end in sight. In addition, the world's income inequality has dramatically affected the living conditions of populations.

Lastly the rapid industrialization of many developing nations has created an immediate need for resources. For instance, countries such as India and China have grown quickly with economies that need more of the Earth's resources for cars, technology, food production, etc.

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