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Benefits of Sustainable Technology and Living

Modern society suffers greatly from technological revolutions and innovations which ruin natural environment and kill out Planet. The adoption of the integrated approach to sustainable development represents an almost archetypal ‘ecological modernization’ approach to sustainable development. ‘Ecological modernisation’ is a term which covers a range of policy approaches that embody an optimism about the ability of technology and better regulated markets to address environmental problems, frequently involving the invocation of ‘win-win’ rhetoric. Sustainable technologies cannot renew natural resources but they can reduce a negative impact on human activities on the Planet and protect our population from extinction.

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Sustainable technologies involve those technological solutions which do not ruin or deplete natural resources: they are alternative energy solutions and sustainable house development technologies, clean cars and environmentally friendly materials, etc. The essence of the sustainable technologies is that environmental transformation is seen to be possible through technical and regulatory reforms under existing capitalist structures.

Indeed, in some readings, with appropriate forms of re-regulation the assumption is that the market can be redirected to address environmental problems, in the process creating new market opportunities and business efficiencies, for instance with waste management and measures to promote energy efficiency. Where business efficiency is improved by energy conservation measures, this can be discursively presented not only to argue the efficacy of ‘win-win’ approaches, but also to argue that the old approach of trading off economic growth with environmental loss is outmoded (Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development 2008).

The most popular and advantageous sustainable technologies are renewable energy resources: solar energy, water and wind power. The main advantage of these technologists is that they do not pollute surrounding and are effective enough to replace oil and gas, coal and atomic power plants. Management may assist the natural processes in maintaining grasslands through seeding. Water management may involve methods to enhance water collection or to direct or divert water flows to maintain or increase targeted beneficial human uses. Tree planting can accelerate the reestablishment of a forest after a harvest or a fire.

In some cases, the productivity of the resource may be stimulated simply by reducing the stock. For instance, a mature forest with no net growth may become a net producer of timber after some of its existing stock is removed, thereby permitting faster growth of the remaining trees. More important, the knowledge and ability to manipulate resource systems, gained largely over the past century, have dramatically increased the capacity to boost yields well beyond those that would occur naturally.

Improved seed varieties and beneficial chemicals combined with proper management can increase nutrient supply and reduce natural pests to enable much higher crop, forest, and range yields. Greater understanding of hydrology, and investments in dams and reservoirs, have increased the capacity to reliably extract water from streams (Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology 2008).

Wind and solar technologies can by used by many individuals living in deserts and in mountainous regions. Promoting sustainable urban form has been a central part of planning’s contribution to sustainable development debates. A special attention should be given to regional planning’s role in seeking to guide the broader settlement patterns of regions as well its attention to improving urban environments through better urban design. In terms of settlement patterns, there have long been major debates about how best to capitalize on the momentum of growth areas: whether to seek to spread their growth to less buoyant areas through constraint policies, or instead to encourage growth wherever it emerges and hope for a beneficial ‘spread’ effect.

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Though in the short term encouraging growth areas might seem the obvious solution, the longer-term dangers are that this can lead to negative consequences which can undermine the very basis of success, such as wage, land and housing price spirals, traffic congestion, urban sprawl and longer trips to work, social polarization and a deteriorating quality of life. To put it another way, unregulated growth runs the risk of undermining the very basis of a region’s success.

Current water resources can also be replaced by sustainable technologies based on effective usage and storage of ground water and precipitations. Today, the sustainable technology exists to upgrade the vast amounts of saline water available in the oceans and in some aquifers to any quality desired. The costs of doing so, however, are much too high for most uses with current technologies and prices. Desalinization of sea water to levels suitable for domestic or even most agricultural uses is currently about five to ten times the costs of developing conventional supplies (Sustainable Development. 2008).

Baring major declines in energy prices and unanticipated technological developments, desalinization of highly saline water will remain relatively expensive for all but the highest-value uses in the most water-scarce regions. Nevertheless, the economics of upgrading brackish waters with salt concentrations well below those found in the oceans and of recycling municipal and industrial wastewaters are more promising.

A variety of technologies already exist to improve water quality, and the economics of using them will improve as water becomes more expensive or difficult to acquire and as environmental regulations force greater treatment of effluent flows. Moreover, new treatment technologies are more likely to emerge if the nation’s commitment to improved water quality continues. Heavy metals, pesticides, and other chemical compounds can have adverse effects on humans, wildlife, and natural environments even in extremely low concentrations. Heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, mercury, and zinc that are toxic to fish at low concentrations and produce a variety of health problems in humans are widely used in industry (Sustainable Technology 2008).

More than 60,000 commercial chemical substances, some known to be highly toxic, are currently used in the production of the nation’s food and other products. Toxic substances pose a much more difficult regulatory problem than the other pollutants. Many are invisible, odorless, sometimes highly persistent in the environment, and difficult to detect in the low concentrations that can be harmful (Laboratory for sustainable Technology 2008).

Looking for a win-win approach, the current preferred approach is to avoid constraint policies, but to manage growth in a ‘smarter’ way. It is in this context that debates have arisen about how best to improve the quality of life within cities and also how best to address urban development in its wider regional context. The result has been a move towards ‘smart’ policies to help concentrate developments into suitable areas whilst protecting sensitive areas.

With smart growth, development tends to be focused on existing rural and urban settlements, while resource areas are protected. Economic growth is favored as a means of achieving these aims. In addition, designs are favored which support public transport and pedestrian access, and which provide a mix of residential, commercial and retail uses. Open spaces and other environmental amenities are actively created and nurtured (Sustainable Technology Solutions 2008).

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Another important are of sustainable technologies involve sustainable leaving and sustainable environmental technologies. They involve waste management and recycling, water purification and energy conservation. For instance, local concerns such as toxic waste disposal and ambient levels of air pollution are now interspersed with regional concerns such as the effects of acid rain on lakes and forests and global issues such as climate change and loss of biological diversity.

Incomplete scientific understanding of the nature and implications of these problems, international externalities that arise when pollutants are transmitted across political borders, and the absence of institutions for resolving international resource disputes greatly complicate the task of successfully meeting future resource challenges (Sustainable Technology 2008).

The most important concept is sustainable living. It means a lifestyle of a particulate aimed to reduce global pollution and depletion of natural resources. This lifestyle contributes to the recovery of a resource that has been subjected to excessive use or abuse. Logged-over forests and degraded rangeland can be replanted or protected so that recovery can occur naturally, locally extinct wildlife can be reintroduced where suitable habitat is available, and hunting restrictions can be enforced.

Cropland fertility can be restored by planting legumes and by introducing chemical or natural nutrients. management can provide protection to the resource from many natural and human-made dangers that reduce or dissipate the actual or potential productivity of the resource (Sustainable Technology 2008). The control of pests, diseases, and fire can protect agricultural and forestry harvests; erosion control systems can protect soils; grazing management can prevent destructive overgrazing; and habitat manipulation and hunting restrictions can encourage the growth of wildlife populations.

This new approach embodies two key changes: first, a decisive shift from an environment-led interpretation of sustainable development by explicitly requiring equal consideration of social and economic issues; and second, the implicit prioritisation of ‘high’ economic growth. Simply using the word ‘high’ imposes a powerful disciplining logic on all those required to adopt this definition, given that the other objectives all had less prescriptive words, such as ‘progress’, ‘effective’ and ‘prudent.’

For planners, the new definition was particularly significant, as it implied a shift from an emphasis on ‘environmental limits’ in favour of approaches more focused on reconciling environmental protection with economic growth. Particularly important in the new ‘integrated approach’ was the policy imperative to identify ‘win-win’ solutions as first-order policy preferences, rather than the traditional planning concern with balancing and trade-offs (Sustainable Technology 2008).

‘Win-win’ solutions are said to be those which encourage policy-makers to think creatively about ways in which policies might achieve both environmental protection and economic development objectives. The combination of rising costs, a slowing in the development of new storage, and increasing measures to restore and protect stream-flows are reflected in the growth of offstream water uses. Irrigation and industry remain the dominant offstream water users; they are also the sectors for which there have been significant reductions in use in response to factors such as rising water costs, problems in securing additional supplies, transfers to other users, and water-quality regulations.

The sustainable technology solution is intended to focus on identifying solutions which achieved both economic and environmental gains, or at least solutions where neither economy nor environment experienced a net loss in standing, while at least one gained. This win-win approach is important because it represented a major shift away from planning’s previous acceptance of notions such as ‘balance’ and the possibility of ‘trading off’ losses in one category against ‘wins’ in another.

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The new approach initially proved difficult for some planners to come to terms with, in part because their professional training had been largely based on notions of trade-off and balance, along with tools such as mitigation and compensation. As an example, the loss of an environmental site might have been compensated for under a planning obligation which required a developer to improve the condition of another site, perhaps developing a new wildlife park next door or even some distance away (Sustainable Technology 2008).

In sum, sustainable technology allows to reduce pollution and protect the Earth from resource depletion. In a sense, many of the debates in regional planning over recent years have revolved around attempts to move away from overly simplistic binaries such as economy versus environment, instead developing more subtle, more sophisticated policy understandings. Intriguingly, central government itself has been centrally involved in undermining ‘purist’ or single issue approaches in English planning by virtue of introducing the integrated approach to planning, which has quite explicitly set out to challenge the previously dominant mindset of trading off economic and environmental issues against each other.

Yet the integrated approach has brought with it a new set of tensions and even contradictions, as planners have sought to grapple with the multiplicity of sustainabilities which have been invoked in the name of sustainable development: environmental sustainable development, sustainable urban or rural regeneration, and sustainable economic development.

Works Cited

Institute for Sustainable Technology and Development. 2008. Web.

Laboratory for sustainable Technology. 2008. Web.

Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology. 2008. Web.

Sustainable Development. 2008. Web.

Sustainable Technology. 2008. Web.

Sustainable Technology Solutions. 2008. Web.

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