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can we have an economic growth and still live sustainably Sustainable development is a community that meets the consumer needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own, but can we both have an economique development and still live sustainble?

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dano7744 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes, I think we can do both but the political climate must change in order to adopt changes that are needed. One problem in the political arena is that if an administration legislates new taxes or sir charges on corporations that emit carbon waste those politicians may not be re-elected. Because politicians know this they are hesitant to introduce the necessary changes regarding more sustainable technologies.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I think we can. You can have responsible growth and still have growth. The problem is getting people to think about it that way. No one thinks of future generations. Everyone wants to make as much money as possible, now. It would take a huge cultural shift to get people to think about more sustainable growth. Perhaps now the we are finally in an economic recovery, we are in this position more than before.

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enotechris eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Neither economic growth nor environmental sustainability are mutually exclusive; on the contrary, these can go hand in hand, and quickly if the market is allowed to move freely.

if people want alternative energy cars, then businesses should be allowed to build them in a level and free competitive market.  Demand alone, if consumers will practice what they preach, should see new auto manufacturers with new propulsion technologies.  That won't happen as long as government bails out the likes of General Motors.

A Carbon tax, as a prior post noted, is precisely the wrong way to go.  Why give more power to government?  It doesn't create wealth, but it can certainly delay or destroy its creation. If government is to do anything, why not reduce corporate taxes on businesses that meet green criteria?  The demand for green products is huge -- what company wouldn't reinvest to meet the demand?

The problem is not in achieving the twin goals of economic growth or environmental sustainability; they are accomplishable, but the problem resides in removing the restrictions that forbid progress towards these goals. The vested businesses in government with their polluting practices have to go.  Until they do so, and allow for newer businesses to take their place, nothing will change. This is a political problem, not an economic nor ecologic one.

Because government has no responsibility, yet possesses the legal power to alter economies and ecologies, the "worst of all worlds" situation is unfortunately and sadly quite possibly going to occur instead, that of continued economic contraction and ecologic destruction.

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wannam eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In theory, it is possible to have both economic development and sustainability.  In the real world, this is a very difficult task.  This is certainly the direction that we are globally moving towards.  There is a great push for alternative energy like wind farms.  There is also a great push for alternative fuels for vehicals like hydrogen or bio-diesel.  We are constantly searching for new ways to grow crops that allow for population growth and the best land usage.  I think eventually we will achieve this goal, but it is still a long way off.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I agree with the previous post.  I think that this is a question that has not yet been answered.  However, it does seem that we probably have the technological means to do this.  What is lacking is the political will.  If, for example, we imposed a strong carbon tax, companies would soon find ways to produce in ways that used less energy.  Capitalist competition would take care of that.  But right now, we lack the political will to impose such a tax and so there is little incentive for companies to reduce their use of energy.

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Alec Cranford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is one of the most pressing questions of our time. Certainly public and private sector investment in renewable resources could go a long way toward making this happen, but it will also require increasing awareness of economically sustainable practices at the personal and family level. In other words, we have to figure out ways to decrease consumption, both through technology, and through culture, if you will.

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hef20 | Student

Can I suggest a book my Professor Tim Jackson called 'Prosperity Without Growth'.

He provides a detailed argument about how it is possible.

There are many reports on the book being a contradiction in terms, and these reports might offer some of the points in a more concise and critical way.


harris90 | Student

I do believe this is very much archievable. If you have a look at our energy consumption it is clearly going up over the last couple of decades, together with economic groth and our GDP.

Most western world countries, or any others experiecing economic groth have seen the same, but if you look at for example european countries, some of them have actually archieved to still experience economic groth while reducing their carbon footprint and energy consumption. (this of course are not the only factors, but at least partly)

Other examples, India, Brasil or China are of course growing rapidly while being far away from sustainability. I would recommend to check out some numbers on the economic growth and energy consumption here: