In sustainable development, there must be an element of the present and the future. The use of a resource in order to accomplish present needs as well as preserve the resource for future use is known as sustainable development. Human beings presently use resources without caring if they are renewable or non-renewable. Overuse/overexploitation of any renewable or non-renewable resource, leads to its extinction - this means that it disappears from the face of the earth (Afgan, Bogdan, & Dui%u0107, 2004, p.17).
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Sustainable development aims to achieve social, economic and environmental balance of a resource and avoid its misuse, overexploitation, or extinction. An ecosystem is an independent system of beings sharing the same habitat or niche. The removal of any aspect of an ecosystem means that the ecosystem is not going to be stable anymore, leading to loss of the ecosystem. Sustainability of an ecosystem depends on every aspect of abiotic (physical factors e.g. temperature) and biotic (e.g. predation, and human influence) factors.
The change of these factors will also lead to disability or collapse of the ecosystem of an area (Afgan, Bogdan, & Dui%u0107, 2004 p.18). Man has overstretched the use of resources in major ecosystems and the results have been adverse to the environmental ecosystems. The resources have been depleted by action of man e.g. forests have been logged to give way to settlements and the use of the timber in many activities such as building, paper making, and medicines.
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The Easter Island in the Pacific ocean 2000 miles off the west coast of South America has been a living proof of a depleted ecosystem due to social factors. Polynesian settlers lived there with their stowaway rats in 400 AD. The island had beautiful vegetation and palm trees (Ponting n.d.). The inhabitant discovered the economic value of the wood from palms and used it for building houses, constructing canoes, weaving rope, among other uses. The island had no land animals hence the inhabitants took on sea resources for food (Tiffanyaliano, 2009).
The more the inhabitants increased in population, the more demand for palm wood became, which led to the extinction of the palms. Stowaway rats increased in population due to lack of predation and they fed on the seeds of palms hence no palm could grow. With no wood to make boats, for fishing then the inhabitants turned to feeding on migrated fowl and also the 22 native bird species on the island. The birds were also a mode of pollination and hence the palm trees would also decrease with time - the land became barren. Only 2200 inhabitants were in the land by 1722 when a Dutch explorer Jacobs Roggrevee arrived on Easter Sunday. He reported not seeing any tree or vegetation (Ponting, n.d.), and this marked the end of that ecosystem.
The Amazon rain forest is being affected by deforestation. The forest rain forest is responsible for producing 20% of the world’s oxygen, and the removal of carbon dioxide. Statistics have been worrying since the Amazon used to occupy 14% of the world’s land but it has been depleted to 6% currently, and it is predicted if the current trends continue it will be over by 40 years. Further one hundred and thirty seven animal, plant and insect species a day are being extinct (tiffanyaliano, 2009). Human activity and encroachment without regard for the future consequences of degraded environment has stimulated a lot of concern to the environmental activists.
Although the extinction of Easter Island was precipitated by the individual inhabitants, the Amazon case is even more disastrous as there is large scale clearance of the forest to allow land for commercialized livestock pasture growing, commercialized resource extraction, and World Bank projects coupled with misguided and inappropriate government policies.
If humans are not careful they may also become extinct. Depletion of ecosystems is happening at very alarming rates. With the current situation man should aim at other alternative sources of the products they consume from depleted resources, and aim at sustaining the ecosystem (Vajpeyi, 2001 p.7). The repeat of what happened to Easter Island should not be experienced and should be evaded at all cost, lest the world plunges in to a crisis in search of very crucial resources like water and fuel. It is time to embrace sustainable development for the good of the future generation.
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