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Business - Sustainability, Holland.docx

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Philosophy 2074F/G
Michael Herbert

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SUSTAINABILTY – HOLLAND  In a word present patterns of economic activity are judged to be unsustainable  For even if we accept that economic growth has been the chief cause of environment degradation, it does not follow that abandoning growth is the remedy  Replacing more confrontational discourse between advocates of economic development and those increasingly concerned over its environmental consequences  Development, it was suggested could be pursued to the extent that it was compatible with sustaining environmental capacity  Development that meets the needs o the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs  The principle of sustainability in effect licenses the pursuit of quality of life insofar as this is compatible with a similar quality of life for all  Other hand it holds that growth is not sufficient to relieve poverty, and sees the need for what it calls a new development path one that sustains environmental capacity  Sustainable development is understood as development that sustains human progress into the distant future  Brundtland clearly links issues of intergenerational equity with those of intergenerational equity. The implications for environmental protection however are less clear  However the appearance of consensus even at the highest policy levels continues to be accompanied by a sustained chorus of skepticism and suspicion  Nature shrinks as capital grows  The point of most interest to environmentalists is how far the claims of nature are going to be served by policies designed to secure human well being and justice  Interest is the relation between sustainability and the pursuit of justice both intragenerational and intragenerational  Environmental protection does not guarantee the well being of future humans, without many abiding factors being in place  Increasingly, the distinction is drawn between economic growth on the one hand and development on the other, the latter denoting a richer register of human aspiration Amartya Sen  There are in fact sound conceptual reasons for claiming that human well being if this is understood as implying a conscious state of sensitivity cannot be intelligibly specified without reference to external circumstances including states of the natural world  Human interest and ecological integrity o not just happen to coincide but exhibit an interlocking conceptual relationship  There are those who believe that a tolerable human feature actually requires the maintenance of substantial portions of the globe relatively free of human influence  At the heart of the economic approach to sustainability is the concept of capital. The modeling of nature on the on the analogy of financial capital capable of yielding interest arises readily from earlier notions of sustainable yield found in resource economics  Natural capital comprises all naturally occurring organic and inorganic resources including not just physical items but also genetic information  The distinguishing feature of weak sustainability is indifference between natural and human made capital provided only that human needs continue to be met  The distinguishing feature of strong sustainability is that it is not indifferent between natural and human made capital, but requires natural capital to be maintained  The impact of weak sustainability is not insignificant. Although it allows environmental loss to be offset against the other kinds of economic gain, it at least acknowledges that environmental
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