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17.14: Sustainable Development

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    Is there another way?

    Visibility in Beijing is sometimes so bad that the airport must be closed due to smog. In their rush to develop, many nations are making the same mistakes that the developed nations have already made. Is there a more sustainable path?

    Sustainable Development

    Is it possible for all the world’s people to live well and still protect the planet? That’s the aim of sustainable development. Its goals are to:

    1. help people out of poverty.
    2. protect the environment.
    3. use resources no faster than the rate at which they are regenerated.

    A smaller human population is part of the solution. Studies show that educated women have fewer and healthier children. Educating women (and men) is a long-term goal of population control.

    Developing new technologies can help. For example, fish farming can feed people good healthy protein. The farming must be done in an environmentally sound way.

    Better use of resources is another part. For example, when forests are logged, new trees should be planted.

    Citizens can change their behavior to reduce the impact they have on the planet. They can demand that products are produced sustainably. People can consume less. They can think about the impact they have when they do consume.

    Everyone can help in the effort. What will you do?


    • Sustainable development tries to bring people up to certain minimum living conditions. This must be done without doing further damage to the environment.
    • To develop sustainably, the human population must stabilize or decrease.
    • Resources must be developed and used consciously and in environmentally sound ways.


    1. How can population growth be decreased?
    2. What are the goals of sustainable development?
    3. What are some ways that you and your family can live more sustainably?

    Explore More

    Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

    1. Explain sustainable development.
    2. What are renewable energy sources?
    3. Why aren't fossil fuels sustainable sources of energy?
    4. Why didn't the United States sign the Kyoto treaty?
    5. List examples of renewable energy sources.
    6. What can we do to reduce our carbon footprint?
    7. How can we reduce the demand for fossil fuels?

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