Environmental Sustainability as a solution for the Economic Crisis
By Stella Evelyne Tesha
In this case I would like to point out that the heading implies, responses that prioritizes the environment alongside social-economic consideration.
The economic crisis has gone on long enough. A number of ‘experts’ solutions have been laid on the table from USA to the smallest country. In 2008 president Obama was quoted on the American blog prompting creation of new jobs. His powerful statement expresses the frustration that is felt by Americans and many world citizens, regarding the on going economic crisis.
I won’t waste time researching a number of solutions that have been offered by many great minded people. However I would like to add my two cents hoping that somewhere along the road when optional solutions are being considered, this might also be helpful.
Indeed as President Obama already urged, creating new jobs is one of the highest priorities. The question is how? Considering that many businesses are going down rather than high?
Based on this question, my answer is to use an environmental management approach.
There first obvious possibility is to develop more regions apart from the few urban cities. We see a number of cities like Shanghai, Jakarta, Mumbai that have managed to make a huge economic leap over a short period of times. However, the pollution of air, water and land associated with this rapid development have caused additional problems in terms of greenhouse gasses emissions and accelerating climate change. There is another problem associated with this scenario floods.
In general, natural floods are caused by heavy steady rainfall that lasts for a duration of time and thus saturating the ground.
Precipitation on land is absorbed by the ground and vegetation. The ground can become saturated by excess water. On highlands, water runs off as springs into the sea/ocean. Currently the extent of precipitation absorption has been reduced e.g by urban development that includes land clearance, modern roads, buildings and hard pavements construction. Therefore, a lot of precipitation leads to excessive surface runoff that raises the water table leading to natural floods.
The nature of floods is explained by the diagram showing the mechanisms of the hydrological cycle, below. In such a case we can see why building more ‘’cities’’ might not be such a sustainable solution.
The second not so obvious solution is the one I would like to talk about. This solution is in alignment with the three tools used for environmental management – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle. It is a response that prioritizes the environment alongside social-economic consideration.
Before diving into this solution, I would like to point out that the economic crisis is not an ‘’island’’ as a crisis. Furthermore, , a lot more problems have bloomed from this crisis. The governments are faced with a large amount of citizens to support with welfare, taxes collected are less, graduates and professionals are getting more frustrated, stress resulted causing more poor health, of which insurance companies are faced with increased payments demands, social conflicts from frustrations – just to point out a few.
The biggest problem of all of course is that more and more companies are forced into bankruptcy and more people are laid off than hired, and the people who are hired have to struggle to keep their jobs by working harder and longer hours. Yet this is not bringing the crisis to an end.
My solution is 24 hours offices. This is a solution that is good for the environment as well as for the social-economic crisis. I will explain how.
The increased concentration of Ozone in the air at ground level. This Ozone pollution is caused by combination of sunlight with hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxide, two compounds produced by cars, trucks, factories, and power-generating plants, and found wherever gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, oil, or natural gas are combusted. In summer, Ozone pollution is higher especially during heavy traffic in large industrialized communities.
The high temperatures combined with lack of wind (due to tall buildings) can cause ground-level Ozone to reach dangerous levels for human health. Health deterioration is usually slow.
Some of the effects include:
Irritation of the respiratory system that causes coughing, throat irritation and most likely an uncomfortable sensation in the chest.
This eventually leads to:
- Reducing lung function, making it more difficult to breath as deeply or vigorously as normal.
- Aggravating asthma - in fact, ozone is one of the most common asthma triggers.
- Inflaming and damaging the cells lining the lungs, much the same way as sunburn damages the skin cells.
- Aggravating chronic lung diseases.
- Difficulty for the lungs to fight off other potential infections.
- Potential permanent lung damage in children and adults through repeated short-term exposure.
People who are affected by Ozone may experience some of these symptoms, but some of the damages can occur without any noticeable signs and lung damage can continue even after symptoms go away.
By having 24 hours offices, this will solve a number of problems including increasing employment opportunities. But let us make this explanation into a flow chart for more clarity.
Environmental Sustainability - 24 Hours Offices as a possible solution
Those are only a few of the advantages within the system boundary. A few more can be added and certainly when we look closer, a few negative points are within the system as well including social security and possible noise pollution during night hours.
However, as with any other environmental management option, an idea that solves problems in a sustainable way is worth evaluating. A costs and benefits analysis may well determine this as a possible solution, or not, or possible in combination with another option. However, we must embrace the wider issues if we are to change our futures and the futures of those who come after us.
I urge the ‘experts’ and political decision makers to expand their boundaries by identifying the deeper problems and defining sustainable solutions after sitting down to discuss the issues with experts of other fields of learning, and the community leaders.
I also urge environmentalists as myself, to take a short break from their regular work, and offer optional solutions to be considered as responses that prioritizes the environment alongside social-economic consideration.
*Stella Evelyne Tesha is with Green Waters Foundation Netherlands