The hearing will examine whether climate change is a threat to sustainability, which is an important consideration in the development of legislation to address climate change and the ability of communities to plan and make decisions for a sustainable future
Sustainability and Sustainable Development
Sustainability involves the study of natural resources including their function, diversification and ways of ensuring that the ecology remains balanced. According to Van Vuuren et al (21-35) assert that sustainability involves acknowledging the fact that the civilization of human utilizes the available resources to maintain the contemporary lifestyle. There are numerous examples in the history of humanity in which civilization has annihilated the environment and adversely affect the chances of survival. Indeed, sustainability takes into consideration how the society can coexist in harmony with the surrounding natural resources, preserving it from destruction. Today, people, particularly those in the urban settings are using more resources, energy and power compared to those in the rural environments. The amount of resources utilized in the urban centers often utilizes more power than the average, therefore, keeping the streets and historical buildings on light. That does not imply that sustainable living should only focus on urban dwellers, there is still a lot of improvements that need to be done in both urban and rural settings. It is anticipated that the society uses approximately 40% of resources annually which is probably more than what the society can reimburse and that needs to transform. As such, sustainability and sustainable development emphasizes on creating the balance between needs of moving forward technologically and economically and the needs to conserve the environment. It is also important to emphasize that sustainability is more that preserving the environment. It also entails preserving the physical fitness of people.
The essence of conserving the environment is to ensure that people live a healthier life isolated from diseases. In the year 2005, the World Summit identified three primary areas that contribute to sustainable development. The first key pillar of sustainable development identified by the Summit was economic development. This is an issue that is usually a major challenge considering that people maintain different political ideologies and this often affects how businesses are operated as well as the level of employability in the society. Furthermore, economic development entails offering incentives to entrepreneurs and complying with sustainability protocols that goes above the normal legislative prerequisites. It is also a pillar that promotes and nurtures incentives for an average citizen to contribute in developing the society. The second pillar of sustainability is social development. The most important thing is creating awareness and seeking protection from the laws on wellbeing of people from the pollution and other harmful business activities. For example, North America has put into effect strong regulations and initiatives to ensure that the health and physical fitness of people is well-safeguarded. Social development also means the maintenance of proper access to essential resources without interfering with the quality of life. Today, most people are focusing on sustainable housing and how people can develop better homes using sustainable material. In additional social development also takes into account proper access of education. It is important to encourage the society to participate in environmental sustainability and educate them about the impact of environmental conservation and caution them about the potential threats of failing to achieve their objectives. The final pillar of sustainable development is environmental conservation. Everyone can affirm the need of conserving the environment, whether through the recycling process, minimizing the level at which the energy is consumed, such as, switching off the lights. The essence of regulating businesses is to minimize the level of pollution and reduce the levels of carbon emissions. Besides being the third pillar of sustainable development, environmental protection is also a major concern that determines the future of humanity. It dictates how people should study and preserve the ecosystem, quality of air, integrity and the sustainability of the available resources.
The issue of climate change and creating a sustainable world is essential in order for prolonged environmental and human well-being. As unveiled by IPCC, climate change poses a serious and real threat to sustainability, and new legislation needs to be created in order to decelerate, adapt, and control the damage climate change has had on the environment and sustainability efforts. Indeed Collins et al. (n.d.) reckon that human activities have transformed the climate with notable effects witnessed on the ecosystems and the society in general. Presently, the global surface temperature stands at 0.8 degrees Celsius beyond the level recorded in 1750. In fact, most of the temperature increased happened during the 20th century. The changes in temperature across the world have been higher than the universal average and the changes in continents in high latitude regions have been great. Indeed, the trend of the changes observed matches the predictions of the scientists based on the accumulation of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases. Over the last 250 years, an increase Carbon dioxide concentration from the deforestation and burning of fossil fuels has been termed as the largest effect of climate change. The emission of carbon dioxide in the recent past has contributed in this accumulation. The fossil fuels have increased from 75% to 85% while the deforestation activities have escalated from 15 to 25 percent. In fact, the slight changes in temperature experienced during the 20th century have been escorted by major increases in the prevalence of floods, famine, heat waves and so forth particularly in the 1970s. Furthermore, it appears as though the level of the tropical storms have been on the rise. In the Artic regions, the level of ice at the summer sea has been reducing. Also, the increases in summer melting in the Greenland Ice Sheet are indication of instability in the West Antarctic Ice sheet. It is unfortunate that any attempts to stop human emissions would not produce any positive influence on climatic change.
Addressing climate change
The management of the inescapable climate changes through the promotion of adaptation and by developing capacity for the recovery process from the severe incidents is a huge challenge. Global, national and local institutions are in numerous aspects unprepared to cope with the modern weather-related catastrophes. The society will require enhancing the management of natural resources and establishing preparedness strategies to deal with the future climatic conditions that will be significantly different from those encountered for the past several years.
The first approach in addressing the climate change is the reduction of GCH emissions. This is a process that will require skilled planning and implementation. For instance, the production of clean and reasonably priced supply of energy which is essential in achieving the Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs) in the developing nations and sustenance of physical wellbeing in the industrialized countries. As well Tickel (298) asserts that the implementation of carbon capture and storage from the plants generating fossil fuel can also help reduce the effect of climate change. Furthermore, the replacement of conventional used of biomass fuels with the contemporary supplies of energy can minimize the formation of black soot and other aerosols. Also, the reversal of the unsustainable practices used on the land that result to deforestation and degradation of the fertility of the soil will assist in limiting the discharge of carbon dioxide and methane into the air.
Climate and Sustainability
The three main issues that surface in examining the link between climate change and sustainability include the following. The first issue as revealed by Lehner and Stocker (3-5) is about the long-term environmental boundaries for climate change which if properly established would limit the level and timing of allowable global emission of gasses. The second issue is the level of global emissions and assignment of responsibilities to alleviate emissions. The third issue entails the development of policies that entail the mitigation and adaptation course of actions among other regulations.
In summary, the literature on sustainability science and policy described in this statement make clear the case for critical action against climate change and are clearly and pervasively reflected in this statement. There is a lot that needs to be done and ought to be carried out that would require the support of the Senate. I believe this will be forthcoming. I wish to thank the committee for its attentiveness in this imperative issue. I will be humbled to take any queries that the Members may wish to ask.
Collins, Metal et al. In Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (eds Stocker, T. et al.) 1029–1136 (IPCC, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013).
IPCC Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis (Eds Stocker, T. et al.) (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014)
Lehner, Flavio, Stocker Thomas. From local perception to global perspective: Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5 (2015). www.nature.com/natureclimatechange
Tickel Crispin. Communicating Climate Change. Science. 297, 5582, pp. 737 (2002)
Van Vuuren, D. P. et al. A proposal for a new scenario framework to support research and assessment in different climate research communities. Glob. Environ. Change 22, 21–35 (2012)