An Introduction to Sustainable Development: 2nd Edition by J. Elliott

By J. Elliott

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By J. Elliott

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At this time, the rapid rates of population growth in the developing world were considered to be a key constraint on economic development in these regions (and a cause of environmental degradation), the thinking being that the more people there were, the more resources they consumed and the greater the task of eliminating poverty, servicing the populations, creating employment and achieving development. ‘Neo-Malthusian’ ideas dominated the debate (which was largely hosted in the more developed regions).

20 • What is sustainable development? Box B Modes of thought concerning humanity and nature It is argued that society’s desire to manipulate nature, concomitant with an acceptance that the Earth nurtures our own existence, is inherent in the human condition. ‘Technocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ refer to the two extreme positions. In reality, the distinction between these different perspectives is often blurred. As O’Riordan (1981) suggests, rarely is the world so neatly divided into two camps; rather we all tend to favour certain elements of both modes, depending on such factors as our changing economic status and the institutional setting or issue at hand.

In the case of many countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, it has only been since the collapse of the communist regimes between 1988 and 1991 that previously restricted information has brought to light the substantial pollution legacy of past development. The financial challenge alone is considerable: According to the German Institute of Ecological Economic Research, bringing eastern Germany’s environment up to the new Germany’s standards will be a 10 year, $249- to $308-billion effort.

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