Signs of the war the U.S. is currently waging are everywhere. These signs can be seen in our cities, highways, towns, factories, farms and residential developments. I am refering to the war in Iraq.. This fi ght is man verses mother earth; civilization verses nature. Man is seemingly on a crusade to expand until every last inch of the earth is ruined or covered with buildings and cement. Every time a new neighborhood goes up, an entire ecosystem is destroyed. We are so careless with our waste that we end up polluting the air, land, water…you name it, weʼve polluted it.Like most Americans, I was just standing dumbly by, waiting for the human race to deplete all of Earthʼs natural resources. But then I traveled to a small developing nation in Central America that showed me an answer.
Costa Rica, a seemingly insignificant country placed in the midst of under-developed nations laden with strife, is easily overlooked. However, this small country has done something that the much bigger United States has failed to; it has embraced a compromise that can end the battle of civilization verse nature, hopefully once and for all. The answer is sustainable development.
This is the development of a nation using only methods that can be sustained over long periods of time. This would exclude any dependence on non-renewable resources, such as oil. Renewable resources are also protected so that they are not used up before they are able to renew themselves. This would prevent, for example, rainforests from being cut down at a faster rate than they can grow back.
The result is that rainforests just get smaller and smaller. Through sustainable development, forests would be protected from depletion by the use of an alternate logging method. In this method, only a few trees per acre would be cut down, which would allow the forest to maintain its framework and fill in the empty spots. Because of this sustainable logging method, Costa Rica is the only nation in the world whose rainforest is actually growing in size.
Seeing the effect that sustainable development is having in other countries made me ask myself why the United States hasnʼt yet embraced this brilliant idea. One might try to reason that the United States has not adopted sustainable development because it is not widely known or widely advocated. I have since discovered otherwise. Many people in the United States and all over the world are aware of the idea of sustainable development. There have even been large international conferences about the merits of sustainable development. The United States has made a show of jumping on the bandwagon of sustainability, but when the United Nations asked the United States to reduce its exploitation of fossil fuels and other natural resources, the United States refused. Why this refusal? Who would refuse to help save the environment when there is a plausible solution? The answer people who make money by exploiting fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources.
The idea is really quite simple: man and nature can have a give and take relationship through sustainable development. Who would have thought that the answer would be so simple? Certainly not me. And who would have thought that a small developing country in Central America would be using it successfully before the United States, which is supposed to be ahead onfeverything?
There are three lessons that can be learned from this: 1) There is much to be learned from other nations, no matter what their size or developmental status, 2) Sustainable development is a method through which we can save the environment, and 3) The United States chooses to continue destroying the environment while other nations choose to save it. To help, we can learn as much as we can about other countries, about sustainable development, and about the environment.
To find out more about sustainable development, you can go to www.iisd.org/about/. You can also call or e-mail government officials, such as the governor, senators, and other local officials. These opinions are those of the writer and do not necesarily reflect the feelings of The Quad.