Sustainable Development in today's context

Chapter 1

Today, we're talking about sustainable development.

This is a crucial concept.

I think it's crucial for the world.

But what does it mean?

I think our starting point has to be, how crowded our world is today.

We're 7.2 billion people. The numbers have soared.

We're up ten times since the start of the industrial revolution.

Billions more people are likely to be added to the world's population

in the 21st century.

This is making for a very complicated world.

A world divided between great wealth and still crippling poverty.

A world facing unprecedented environmental challenges.

Sustainable development is really two ideas.

One, is a way to understand this complicated world.

How do the economic,

the social, the environmental, the

political, the cultural factors fit together?

And the second aspect of sustainable development is the idea

of sensible goals for this crowded, interconnected planet.

How do we make the world both prosperous, fair and also
environmentally sustainable,

so that our numbers, and our economy don't overrun the physical planet itself?

That's really the aim of the study of sustainable development.

To understand the world and of course, to help improve the world.

And we need to get into that complexity.

Any idea there's one answer, one simple, magic formula, one explanation,

one force at work; we have to put that aside.

We have to

embrace complexity, because we are talking about a complicated, interconnected

set of relations of a world economy that now spans

all parts of the world. And connects all people, all businesses,

technologies in flows of trade, finance, ideas, advertising,

production systems, but also connects us with

the physical Earth, in unprecedented ways.

Humanity actually changing the climate, changing what specie

survive on the planet, changing the chemistry of

the ocean, changing the safety of the air,

changing the access and availability of fresh water.

It's an unprecedented situation. It's a fascinating situation.

It will be the challenge of your generation.

Let's see what we can figure out of all of this

and how through that knowledge we can do something about it.

Have a look at this remarkable, the piece of technology the Maglev in Shanghai.

Which carries people at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour, more than 400

kilometers per hour, to and from the city and the airport.

It, it's a magnificent piece of technology.

A product of joint work of a major

leading engineering companies and Europe and those in China.

It's been operating for the past decade.

It is a kind of model of what sustainability can mean

in the future. Because if a electric, trains,

these, magnetic levitation trains or fast intercity rail based

on electricity are powered by, clean electricity.

Then we have a way of helping people to move helping

goods and services to move in a way that's safe for environment and

technology is exemplified by the Maglev is definitely

one way forward. But we also have to realize

that not all the world right now is in, in the

state of traveling to and from the airport in magnetic

levitation. Let's look a, another remarkable city

another great city in many ways, but crowded beyond belief, the

city of Dhaka. You see a crowds bustle,

and actually a kind of transport you can hardly find anywhere else in the world.

I've experienced it, it's astounding to ride in

a bicycle, a rickshaw or one of these buses

on this incredibly crowded path.

Thousands and thousands of people walking to and from work.

Life out on the streets. What are we really seeing here?

First, we are seeing one of the most crowded places in the world.

We are seeing an example of the incredible rise of global population.

Bangladesh is a

country now, with around 160 million people.

That's more than four times the 37 million people in

Bangladesh in the middle of the last century in 1950.

Dhaka, itself, is one of the largest cities in

the world right now but think of what's happened.

In 1965 Dhaka had about a half a million people.


Dhaka has more than 15 million people.

You can imagine how the infrastructure's been completely over run.

How transport systems, water systems, sanitation systems and all the

rest Are facing unbelievable stress with this kind of population increase.

This is also part of the reality of our planet.

How do you achieve sustainable development in a, very low income,

very, very crowded place like Bangladesh. Especially taking into account

how vulnerable low-lying Bangladesh is to the climate change ahead.

So, sustainable development for us, first, is

a way to understand these complicated challenges.

I think it's useful to think of there being four dimensions to

that puzzle.

There's the economics, there's the societal

dimension, how our communities work, culture,

civil society, there's the natural environment

and there's our political or government systems.

How do economic, social, environmental and government systems interact?

The second way to think about sustainable

development is not only as an analytical approach, one that takes a holistic

view of society. But also as what we would call a normative

or ethical approach, identifying goals for society.

Sustainable development urges us to have a holistic

vision of what a good society should be.

Sometimes people

say well good society is a rich society.

But we know that can't quite be it just to focus on the economics.

If a country is rich on average, but all the

wealth is held by very few people and most of the

people are poor, Think most of us would say that's not

a good society in the sense, that we would aspire towards.

So social inclusion is the second aspect of a

good society.

Meaning that economic well being is widely shared among

different ethnic religious or racial groups in a country.

It's shared between men and women.

So, there's gender equality, it's shared among regions of a country,

so that there's not just one pocket of prosperity in a sea of poverty.

A third aspect

of what we would think to be a good society is one that is a good

steward of the natural environment. We all know that if we

break the physical systems of biodiversity

if we destroy the oceans if we deforest the great rain

forests, we're going to lose immeasurably. If we

continue on a path that fundamentally changes the Earth's climate in a way

that's unrecognizable for us in the way that humanity has developed.

We're going to face grave dangers.

So from a normative perspective,

environmental sustainability certainly seems right.

If we care about the well being of our children and

future generations.

And for most of us we also care very much how government functions.

People living in places with massive corruption with lawlessness.

Where the politicians are not to be trusted.

Where government services are not fair.

Where there's massive discrimination, insider dealing and

so forth. This creates a lot of unhappiness.

All over the world, people feel happier

and better when they can trust their government.

But unfortunately, many places in the world, people don't trust their

governments to be honest, to be fair, even to keep them basically secure.

So from a normative perspective, we could say that

a good society is not only a wealthy society.

But is one that is prosperous

and inclusive, environmentally sustainable and well governed.

And our fundamental question will be how

can we take sustainable development as a goal?

Use our knowledge of the interconnections of

the economy, of society, of the environment and

of governments.

To think through this crowded 21st century in a world of massive

divisions of wealth and poverty and world of unprecedented environmental stress.

But also in a world of Maglevs and many, many other technological miracles.

How can we find our way through, through this century to produce property

that is inclusive, that is sustainable. And that is according to

decent governance with rule of law, transparency and accountability.

There are some very powerful ways forward to meet sustainable

development as a goal a shared goal for the planet.

Chapter 2

One very crucial aspect of sustainable

development is economic well-being and prosperity.

There have been great gains in material well-being.

In average income per person, in other indicators of material

life, such as health and life expectancy, over the course of recent decades.

We'll see, of course, that these are not gains enjoyed by

everybody within a country, certainly not in all parts of the world.

But on average there have been very notable gains

in economic well-being achieved through decades of economic growth.

And this is a phenomenon that is

of crucial importance for those countries that are

still poor today. Perhaps their, their greatest goal is to

achieve economic growth so that they can narrow the gap in material

conditions that they face today with respect to the richer countries.

If those countries living in extreme poverty today where, that they can

hardly meet their basic needs, are aiming to live like more of

the world that increasingly has assurance of basic needs,

and many parts of the world that live with remarkably high standards of living.

Another aspect of this material change is that in a world of

greater production greater ability to grow

food greater productivity in manufacturing, in transport,

in power and in other key parts of the economy.

The population has risen alongside that from the middle of the last century

in 1950, the world's population at the time was about 2.5 billion people.

It's roughly tripled since then,

absolutely extraordinary to around 7.2 billion

people today, and the numbers are continuing to rise.

Roughly an increase of 75 to 80 million

people added to the world's population each year.

Meaning that it won't be long, probably around 2024, 2025, when another

billion people will be on the planet when we'll reach the 8 billionth person.

Let's look at what growth really means and there has been no,

exemplar of economic growth more remarkable than China.

Of course, it's the world's most populous country, with 1.3 billion people.

So anything major that happens in China is earth shaking.

But also China has been among the fastest growing

economies in world history. Since China undertook

some basic market reforms, after 1978 until

just about the last couple of years when growth has begun to slow a little bit,

China was averaging roughly 10% per year economic growth.

Absolutely astounding, and it's very handy, you know, something that I'll refer

to many times to use what we call the rule of 70.

Take the number 70,

divide it by the growth rate in this case 10, 70 divided by 10 is 7.

It means that China has been doubling it's national income every seven years.

The rule of 70 says 70 divided by the growth rate gives

you the number of years to double the size of the economy.

Well, what does that mean? Take a look at Shenzhen China.

Shenzhen is a city very close to Hong Kong in

southern China. And in 1980, or so, when you receive this

picture, Shenzhen was a small village, mainly rural

not very many people perhaps 30,000

people living in Shenzhen. Now, take a look at Shenzhen

today, nearly 10 million people, Shenzhen has become a

modern metropolis, it's a major manufacturing hub for the world.

Not only did populations rise, did incomes per person soar,

but also, how people live has clearly, fundamentally

changed. From rural agricultural livelihoods

to modern urban manufacturing and services and in a matter of three decades.

While most of the world's not going to experience a Shenzhen like change.

But that basic pattern of economic growth a transition from poor, small-holder

farming to modern manufacturing, especially modern service economy,

is part of the normal pathway of economic growth.

And while very few places grow at the rate of 10% per year

with a seven year doubling time, it's still is the case that many

parts of the world, even many of the poorest parts of the world

today are experiencing significant economic growth, and

with that a significant transition to urbanization.

Any significant transition from agriculture,

to manufacture and especially to services.

If you look at the next graph, you see something also, absolutely

astounding that we really need to keep in mind, and that's demography.

In other words, change of world population.

Now, this is a graph that shows you the long, long haul

over the last couple million years, even before there was the modern
human species.

But let's just take the human part of this and what we call the neolithic

era, that's since the age of agriculture began around 10,000 years ago.

Well, the human population for a long time if you look

at the picture from 10,000 years ago, maybe 7 or 8,000 years

BC, was less than

a half a billion people. Of course, nobody knows but

maybe, 300 million people of all the people on the planet.

That number did not change very much for a very, very long

time the graph is quite flat numbers rising, and

maybe to 4 or 500 million people in 1AD.

And that tells you that over much of human history since

the beginning of agriculture, human population did not change very much.

But take a look at the right hand side of

the graph, all of a sudden, the population begins to soar.

Just about the time

of major breakthroughs in technology around the industrial revolution

the beginning of the era of the steam engine in

1750 or so, we see the population curve turning up and turning up

remarkably steeply. Around 1830,

humanity reached the great milestone of a billion people

on the planet. So for thousands and thousands of years,

the population was under 1 billion. Then from 1830 to

1930 just in one century, the second billion was added.

But then the numbers really started to soar, because from

1930 to 1960, just 30 years, the third billion

was added. We're on track to go from 7 billion,

reached in the year 2011, to 8 billion,

probably around 2024 or 2025, 9 billion sometime in the 2040s.

So this change of population is absolutely astounding.

Our age is an age of economic

growth combined with rapid population growth, and together, those two

dynamics have meant a massive expansion of economic activity, of total

output produced on the planet each year, and of course, alongside

that, a massive increase of humanity's impact on the planet.

And that is one of the great challenges in sustainable development.

Now, another bright spot of recent

development, is that alongside that economic

growth, and alongside the rise in

population numbers, has also come improved health.

Around 1950, for every 1,000 children who were born, an estimated

134 out of the 1,000 would not survive till their first birthday.

That number 134 per thousand is the infant mortality rate.

It tells us how many children won't make it to the first birthday.

What's very heartening is that that number is coming down, and coming
down sharply,

so that 134 per thousand IMR, or infant mortality

rate, is down to an estimated 37 per thousand today.

37 children still don't make it to their first birthday,

dying of malaria or, pneumonia, or other preventable diseases.

Millions of children, dying before their first birthday,

still of preventable and treatable causes. We'll talk about that.

We'll see what can be done.

We'll see how even more progress can be made, and can be made rapidly.

But taking the historic trends, to drop from

134 to 37, is a real accomplishment.

And one that has improved the quality of life and certainly eliminated

a lot of the tragedy and anguish that was part of humanities

existence until the improvements of public health, and modern medical care.

With more children surviving and with health improving at older ages as well,

the good news is that our life expectancy is also rising, and rising

very considerably.

Take a look at what's happened to what we call life expectancy at birth.

That is statistically the, the average length of a life span

taking into account the risks of death at each age.

In the middle of the last century in the period 1950 to 1955,

the average life expectancy you know, for people on the planet was
around 47 years.

Pretty short.

As of today, the estimated life expectancy at birth is more than 70 years.

Or roughly 71 years. And in the high income countries,

around 80 years. This is another example of economic

growth and material progress, and an example of the kind of progress that is

being achieved in most parts of the world. What's the lesson?

The lesson is that this first

pillar of sustainable development, economic well being,

is something that's achievable, and being achieved in large parts of the planet.

There are

fewer tragic deaths of young children, and greater health

and longevity for most of us, with life expectancy rising several decades

from what was experienced in the middle of the last century until now.

This shows, while economic development can improve lives, lives in

which one can have the confidence that their children will

also grow up healthy, survive, and have good prospects in life.

But what we need to do, is to ensure that, that economic growth is inclusive,

that it's not leaving millions and millions of people behind,

and that it is environmentally sustainable.

So that the progress itself doesn't cut our natural

life support systems of biodiversity,

food productions, safe climate productive oceans.

Because if we do that, the gains that we've made will turn

out to be fleeting and evanescent, that could lead to real tragedy.

So it's that holistic approach of ensuring, that

economic growth and material improvement, is socially inclusive and

environmentally sustainable, that is the great challenge.

Chapter 3

In many ways we live in a world of plenty.

Economic growth has produced incredible wealth.

Many parts of the world have escaped from economic hardship.

Countries like China, which were once very

poor, are now solid middle income countries.

But sustainable development calls for prosperity

that is broad based. And, despite living in a world of plenty,

there are still large numbers of people, more than a billion, more

than one out of every seven persons on the planet,

living in extreme poverty. What is the face

of extreme poverty? If you look at this

small [UNKNOWN] farmer At this peasant living in Northern Ethiopia.

There's no modern transport around you

don't see electricity grids in the distance.

You see a pretty parched environment.

That's not a complete coincidence. A dry land area.

Of, poor farmers,

eking out a living, trying to ensure

enough annual food production to feed themselves their families.

Maybe to get that surplus to bring to market for a little bit of
cash income.

[SOUND] Another part of poverty?

Have a look at a street in a slum of Nairobi.

Millions of people live in

the slums of African cities like Nairobi hundreds of millions of people

live in urban slums around the world. This is another face of poverty.

While it remains true to this day that

more than half of the world's population living

in extreme poverty lived in rural areas, of

course, the urban poverty is known to us.

Often the urban poverty is living right next to a great urban
wealth, and what do

we see in this street in Nairobi. You see an unpaved, muddy road.

People living without modern power, probably

without any modern sewerage or sanitation.

In other words,

even though these are people living in an urban area of several
million people,

they're also like that peasant in Northern

Ethiopia, unable to secure basic needs. Access to

emergency healthcare. Access to basic clean

power in the form of electricity or natural gas

for cooking.

Lack of access to safe drinking water

and sanitation, and barely eking out a monetary

living that can meet even the most basic

of minimum needs of clothing and safe shelter.

When we speak about poverty, therefore, we're

necessarily speaking about a many dimensional concept.

Poverty is usually viewed as lack of adequate income, but I

want us to think about it as a lack of income, a lack

of access to basic health services. A lack of access

to basic amenities that most of the world takes for granted.

Safe water, sanitation, electricity,

access for children to, a decent education.

People living in extreme poverty are people who cannot meet these

basic needs. And while proportions of

the world living in extreme poverty have been shrinking

markedly in recent decades, the numbers are still staggering.

Depending on one's estimate and one's exact categorization

of extreme poverty, it's fair to say, that between one and

two billion people in the world are struggling to meet basic needs.

And probably fair to say, that around

one billion people struggle for daily survival.

Will they have enough to eat?

Will polluted water cause a disease that threatens their lives?

Will a mosquito bite carrying malaria carry away

their child because they can't get access to the $0.80

dose of medicine needed to cure the disease.

That's the struggle of daily survival for people

living in extreme poverty. Where is this poverty?

Well, one place to look is the average incomes in different parts
of the world.

Take the national production of the economy,

divided by the population so that one gets

the amount of income generated per person,

per year, in different countries of the world.

And if you put them

in a color code as you see here. You can see a

huge variation in income levels around the world.

Those dark blue areas, there aren't too many of them.

Canada, and the United States.

Western Europe. Australia and New Zealand.

Japan and South Korea.

Those are the high income parts of the world.

And by and large, extreme poverty has been eliminated from those countries.

But take the bright red or beige parts of the world.

There you'll see the greatest poverty. And what you can see very, very

clearly in this world map, is that extreme poverty today is concentrated

mainly in two regions of the world. The first is in tropical Africa.

That's the part of Africa in between the

northern African countries and the countries at the

very south of Africa, and you see on

average, a lot of poverty within those countries.

Often half or so of the population, living in extreme poverty.

And the other concentrated

part of poverty in the world is in south Asia.

India, Pakistan, Nepal,

and Bangladesh, nearby countries that are

sometimes experiencing economic growth but still with vast numbers

of people, often in rural villages, living without

security of their basic needs. Thank goodness, in both Africa.

And in South Asia.

The proportions of households living in extreme poverty are coming down.

Thank goodness for the world as a whole, the numbers have been coming down.

But clearly, we still have a very serious

challenge, a moral challenge and a practical challenge

people living in extreme poverty, face risks of survival.

Often countries where poverty rates are very high, succumb to violence,

to terrorism, to epidemic diseases, to mass migrations, to

environmental disasters, that not only are tragedies for them, but

can trigger unrest and instability among their neighbors and in

other parts of the world as well.

We see in the next map another aspect of extreme poverty.

People living in extreme poverty face a burden of disease and shorter lives

as a consequence. That make their lives distinctly

more difficult, often more painful and tragic than lives of people in

other parts of the world.

Once again, where is the concentration shown in

this map of high mortality rates of young children?

In this particular map.

What's shown is the mortality of children under the age of five.

For every 1,000 births, how many children won't survive til their
fifth birthday?

What's called the under five [COUGH]

mortality rate.

Once again we see that Africa is really the epicenter and

tropical Africa is where the highest burdens of disease still reside.

It's a stark fact that even in countries where there's a
tremendous amount of

economic progress, there can still be very

significant pockets of poverty that are unrelieved.

A lot of inequality,

lack of social inclusion, and major gaps between rich and poor.

And sometimes the starkness of that is right in front of our eyes as

in the view of Rio de Janeiro that you're looking at right now,

where in the foreground, you see the low lying favelas, the slum
areas of Rio.

And in the background, of course,

you see the, high rises, the, the modern,

very high quality of life, of, the wealthier people of Rio de Janeiro.

While there are some parts of the world where most of the
population is poor.

There are a number of countries that have

reached what we call the middle income status.

Countries like Brazil where there still are important

pockets of poverty that need to be releived.

As always with sustainable development, there's hope.

There are things that can be done to help people meet

their basic needs, to help them overcome that daily struggle for survival.

One of those opportunities that I find most exciting is shown

here in this picture of this valiant young woman a community health worker.

Working, with her backpack of medical supplies, to make

sure that if an illness does strike one of

those very poor, small holder farmers, one of their

children, that there's a cure, a remedy on the way.

And through that we can extend the benefits

of modern health and medical sciences to

reach everyone in the world. Well, we've already noticed that

the degree of poverty has a kind of geography to

it. On this fascinating depiction

of income on our globe, shown not as a maps, but as

a globe where the height of each

point on the globe measures the economic output

of that point. You can see those startlingly high levels

of GNP on the islands of Japan. You

can see that in the east coast

of Australia the very high levels of development shown

by the markers, but you can also see the low lying areas

in England, China, in India. And the point

that I want to emphasize in looking at this alternative depiction,

of the world economy, is that geography of

wealth and poverty is complex. Not only broad regions.

Say, Europe versus Africa.

Or Japan versus India, show stark differences.

But even regions within countries, the coastal areas versus the

interior of countries show very, very big differences.

When we analyze

in depth the nature of extreme poverty, the causes of why

it continues to this day even in a world of plenty.

We'll spend a lot of time looking at some of these geographic features.

Is the county, or the, city on a coast where trade is easy?

Is it in the interior where it might be more economically isolated?

Is it in

a good climate zone where food production is easy?

Or it is, is it in a dry land region as we saw in Karo, Ethiopia where

food production is a lot more difficult because

of the low level and the instability of rainfall.

Is it a healthy climate, where, disease burdens are naturally low?

Or is it a place

where killer diseases like malaria are more easily transmitted?

Geography still today plays a big role in shaping wealth and poverty.

By understanding the role of geography, we'll

make a big advance, not only in understanding

why extreme poverty continues in a world of plenty, but what we
can do about it.

Chapter 4

One of the most important messages of sustainable

development is that we've become a threat to ourselves.

Economic production has become so large, our productivity in many

ways so high, and the numbers of us on the planet so

vast, that the effect of all this economic activity on

the physical Earth itself has become overwhelming.

For the first time in human history, for the first time in the
planet's history,

one species, that would be us human beings, are threatening the fundamental

parts of the Earth's own dynamics: the climate system, the

water cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the ocean chemistry.

Think about the basic arithmetic. There are 7.2 billion of us on the planet

now. On average, each individual is

producing around $12,000 of output

per year, rough number, averaged over the whole year.

But with 7.2 billion people, an average of $12,000 per person,

it means that the world economy as a whole, has an output of between

80 and 90 trillion dollars per year. Many times

larger than ever in the past and continuing to expand rapidly.

And the result of all of that, in the water we are using,

the energy that we are burning, the land that is being devoted to feeding

the planet, the chemicals that are being

produced, and the pollution that results from

that poisoning the air and the waterways,

it's leading to an unprecedented environmental crisis.

One of things that's notable about this crisis,

is that it's felt by rich and poor alike.

Have a look my own city, swimming for survival

during this super storm that we experienced in October and

November, 2012, what we

called Hurricane Sandy. But halfway around the world the

same year, Beijing experienced massive flooding.

Or take a look at Bangkok, in the astounding floods of October, 2011: again

a major world city underwater, deluged by

unprecedented rains and as in all of these

cases, a huge setback for the economy, loss of life,

massive loss of property, billions or tens of billions of dollars of damage,

and an unsettled global economy,

because a disruption in one part of the world, in a world of

interconnected production of supply chains that stretch across the world.

Mean that a flood in Bangkok can

disrupt automobile production, or computer production, all over

the world, because of components or factories

that can't get to market during these disasters.

The kinds of disasters that are being felt are varied,

but what is clear, is that they're rising in number.

What we call hydrometeorological shocks or disasters: water, and weather

related, whether it's deluges, extreme storms, hurricanes and typhoons of,

huge, impact, storm surges and floods, as

swept over Manhattan or Beijing, or, Bangkok,

massive droughts, droughts that lead to, the

remarkable and shocking phenomenon you see here, of, terrible

forest fires that spread across the American West in 2012.

These kinds of varied storms, shocks, heat waves,

droughts, floods have become the new normal for the world.

In fact, it's part of a world that is so new, and so stark that
the scientists

notably the geologists, have given our age even a new name.

They call it the Anthropocene. A new word that comes from

its Greek roots, anthropos and cene, anthropos meaning human

Cene meaning epoch or age of the Earth. And what the

scientists are telling us is that this is the human age of the planet.

They don't mean that in a good [LAUGH] way.

They mean it in it's uniqueness and in a very

dangerous way that humanity is changing the water cycle, the

climate is warming the temperature is melting the

glaciers is threatening the great ice sheets over Antarctica

and Greenland, is causing the oceans to become more acidic,

is threatening other species with survival in such a fundamental way

that the planet behaves differently now, even from

a geologic point of view, hence, the Anthropocene.

One of the main drivers of these changes is humanity's massive use

of coal, oil, and natural gas, the three energy sources we call
fossil fuels.

When we burn coal, oil, and gas to move our cars, heat our buildings,

drive our industrial production, produce electricity, we end

up with carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.

And carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes the climate.

This stark graph, which we will revisit, later on,

shows the cycles of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere,

shown here, over the last 800,000 years.

Well, by natural processes mainly changes of, the

earth's, orbit, and the effects that that produced, carbon

dioxide in the Earth's history has gone up and down in kind of a
wave like manner.

But look at the recent few years, the, the blink

of an eye in terms of the Earth's history.

Carbon dioxide has suddenly soared to levels of 400 parts

per million in of CO2 in the atmosphere, something not seen on the
planet, not for

800,000 years, indeed not for 3,000,000 years.

And this is causing massive disruption of the climate system,

global warming, and more extreme events like droughts and floods.

We'll be talking a lot about this and what could be done about it.

But it is a stark illustration of

how humanity is changing the basic Earth processes.

A group of scientists got together a few years ago.

And noted that it's not only the carbon dioxide in the air, but
many other things

that we're doing.

The way we're using water the way that we're putting

nitrogen based fertilizers into the soil to help crop productivity.

But putting it on in such large

amounts that the nitrogen cycle, itself, is effected.

The way that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

affects the ocean chemistry, making the ocean more acidic.

The way we're chopping down trees

to make room for new pasture land and farmland.

In other words, all the varied effects of a big crowded

planet and a lot of economic activity, threatening the planet systems.

And so this group of scientists said we

are trespassing, boundaries that are safe for humanity.

So these scientists said we need to identify

the safe operating limits for the planet, we

need to understand what those planetary boundaries are.

And around the circle you see here

is their visualization of those planetary boundaries.

Have a close look: climate change, ocean acidification, ozone

depletion, the nitrogen cycle, the phosphorous cycle, global fresh

water use, changes in land use, loss of biodiversity,

driving other species to extinction, that is, aerosol

loading, the particles we're putting into the atmosphere through industrial

processes, and chemical pollution, poisoning air and waterways.

These are planetary boundaries that we trespass at profound

risk for ourselves and for our children.

A core goal of the science of sustainable development is to

understand these risks and most importantly to determine what we can do

so that we stay within the safe operating limits of humanity, we honor

and respect these planetary boundaries, as we continue to improve

our well being. It's the combination of economic

prosperity, social inclusion, ending poverty, and ensuring environmental

sustainability, that is the holistic objective of sustainable development.

[Excerpts form Sustainable Development Lecture by www.SDSN.EDU]

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