Concern for the environment is not a new phenomenon ...|
Concern for the environment is not a new phenomenon. Some key dates include:
- Fifth century BC: Plato (42x-34x BC) wrote about the effects of unsustainable
practice regarding forests, referring to the deforestation of the hills around Athens as a result of logging for shipbuilding and to clear agricultural land [EEA Report No 9/2005]
- Fourth century BC: Aristotle (384-322 BC) pointed out that "human well-being is realised only partly by satisfying whatever people's preferences happen to be at a particular time: it is also necessary for successive generations to leave behind sufficient resources that future generations are not constrained in their preferences" [from PK Rao, Sustainable Development Economics and Policy (2000) via ].
- 1543: Henry VIII passed laws to prevent shipbuilders from felling too many trees and hence protect the forests when he realised that creating his naval fleet could compromise future supplies of wood, particularly oak [Henry VIII was an environmentalist].
- C16: "From the 16th century onwards, an essentially organic agriculture was gradually replaced by a farming system that depended on energy-intensive inputs" [Overton, ref 2].
- 1713: Hannβ Carl von Carlowitz in his book Sylvicultura oeconomica, oder haußwirthliche Nachricht und Naturmäßige Anweisung zur wilden Baum-Zucht (Braun, Leipzig) explained that if forest resources were not used with caution (i.e. planned on a sustainable basis to achieve continuity between increment and felling), then humanity would plunge into poverty and destitution.
- 1750: 80% of UK population living and working in the countryside, with farming was done by hand and horse.
- 1759: Adam Smith published The Theory of Moral Sentiments
- 1776: Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations
- 1798: T R Malthus presented An Essay on the Principles of Population in which he proposed that population tends to increase faster than the means of subsistence, and its growth could only be checked by moral restraint or disease and war.
- 1817: David Ricardo presented On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation in which he states "relative value of commodities ... continues nearly the same from one generation to another".
- 1841: Heyer proposed a calculation for the maximum sustainable harvest (Nachhaltshiebsatz) which aims to equalise the age-class distribution and to provide both constant increment levels and a continuous harvest level [C Heyer, Die Waldertragsregelung, Giessen, 1841]. The formula is
suggested as a sustainability indicator by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
- 1864: [George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature, or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, 1864] “Man, who even now finds scarce breathing room on this vast globe, cannot retire from the Old World to some yet undiscovered continent, and wait for the slow action of such causes [nature] to replace, by a new creation, the Eden he has wasted”.
- 1900: 20% of UK population living and working in the countryside aided by steam-powered traction engines and other machines.
- 1915: [Aldous Huxley, Themes and Variations] "Within any nation whose birth-rate is declining, there is a tendency for the decline to be most rapid among the most accomplished and gifted members of the population, least rapid among those whose hereditary and educational endowment is the lowest. The higher the Intelligence Quotient and the level of education, the smaller the family; and vice versa. The future population of Western Europe and North America will be constituted, in the main, by the descendants of the least intelligent persons now living in those areas".
- 19xx: Attributed to Henry Ford (1863-1947) "Why use up the forests which were centuries in the making and the mines which required ages to lay down, if we can get the equivalent of forest and mineral products in the annual growth of the hemp fields?"
- 1957: Treaty of Rome - Common Agriculture Policy. "The aim of the common agricultural policy is to provide farmers with a reasonable standard of living and consumers with quality food at fair prices. The way these aims are met has changed over the years. Food safety, preservation of the rural environment and value for money are now all key
- 1962: Rachel Carson in Silent Spring "exposed the hazards of the pesticide DDT, eloquently questioned humanity's faith in technological progress and helped set the stage for the environmental movement".
- 1965: Spike Milligan: "Once Upon" in the Little Potboiler (echoing Malthus).
- 1969: United States passed the National Environmental Policy Act.
- 1972: United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE)
- 1972: Meadows, Meadows, Randers and Behrans "The Limits to Growth: a report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind" published.
- 1975: United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) established
- 1979: Lovelock "Gaia: a new look at life on earth" proposes an ecological theory that the living matter of planet Earth functions like a single organism.
- 1983: European Union - Common Fisheries Policy. This policy is intended to manage fisheries for the benefit of both fishing
communities and consumers.
- 1984: World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) established.
- 1987: Brundtland report - Our Common Future serves notice that the time has come for a marriage of economy and ecology, so that governments and their people can take responsibility not just for environmental damage, but for the policies that cause the damage.
- 1991: Global Environment Facility formed to provide grants and generate co-financing from other sources to support projects that produce global environmental benefits in developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
- 1992: Rio de Janeiro - Earth Summit Agenda 21: a blueprint on how to make the future development of our world
economically, socially and environmentally sound and sustainable.
- 1992: Population Summit in Cairo - Egypt.
- 1992: Proposed EU-wide carbon-energy tax
- 1995: Social Summit in Copenhagen
- 1995: Women's Summit in Beijing
- 1995: (WTO) eastablished to deal with issues of trade, environment and development.
- 1996: habitat Conference in Istanbul
- 1996: World Food Summit in Rome.
- 1997: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC or commodity.com):
to cost-effectively limit greenhouse gas emissions to five percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The protocol had to be ratified against two criteria, (a) signature by at least 55 of the nations involved - achieved in 2002, and (b) signature by countries accounting for at least 55% of greenhouse gas emissions
produced by industrialised countries in 1990 - achieved when Russia approved the protocol in November 2004.
- 1997: EU Directive on a framework for taxation of energy products: new proposal for energy taxation in the European Union involving the setting of a minimum level for the indirect taxation of all energy products, applicable from 1998.
- 1997: Costanza et al estimated the value of the non-marketed contribution of the world’s ecosystem services to human welfare at $16-54 trillion per year (with a mean of $33 trillion) in $1994. This figure was significantly larger than the corresponding global GNP at $18 trillion per year and was considered to be an underestimate. [The original Nature paper, 1997 (University
of Vermont free download).
The Encyclopaedia of Earth, 2007].
- 1998: Cardiff Framework for EU Economic Policy: measures to ensure the European Union's financial services sector realises its full potential, notably with the introduction of the Euro (€).
- 1999: The Amsterdam Treaty has four major objectives:
- 1999: P Hawken, AB Lovins and LH Lovins "Natural Capital" published.
- 2000: Millenium Summit (environmental summit within the UN General Assembly) in New York.
- 2000: End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive (2000/53/EC) [ELV, ref 3] required all member States to transpose the Directive into national law by 21 April 2002. The Directive aims to reduce the amount of waste from vehicles (cars and vans). It includes requirements for member States to introduce strict standards for the treatment of ELVs at authorised treatment facilities (ATFs), requires that last owners
must be able to deliver their vehicle to an ATF free of charge from 2007, sets recovery and recycling targets and restricts the use of certain heavy metals in new vehicles.
- 2001: International Conference on Freshwater in Bonn
- 2001: European Union - Sustainable Development Strategy prepared for the Gotenburg European Council, and including:
- Climate Change and Clean Energy
- Public Health
- Management of Natural Resources
- Poverty and Social Exclusion
- Ageing and Demography
- Mobility, Land Use and Territorial Development
- 2002: United Nations Environmental Project (UNEP) Life Cycle Initiative (LCI) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) both officially inaugurated (April). GRI seeks to encourage quantitative sustainability reporting of a quality approaching that of traditional financial reporting systems. The Sustainability Reporting Guidelines focus on systems rather than just products.
- 2002: Conference on Financing for Development in Monterey
- 2002: European Commission project (launched in June) leading to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) focussing on product systems rather than production facilities: product manufacturers are responsible for the total life cycle environmental impact of their products from raw materials extraction and manufacturing through to use and disposal.
- 2002: Johannesburg: World Summit on Sustainable Development: significant commitments to improve the lives of people living in poverty and to reverse the continuing deterioration of the global environment. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) aims to increase transparency in transactions between governments and companies within extractive industries (oil, gas, and mining).
- 2003: European Union's Council of Ministers adopted Directive 2003/96/EC: restructuring of the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. The Directive widens the scope of the EU minimum rate system for energy products (previously limited to mineral oils) to all energy products including coal, natural gas and electricity.
- 2003: The WEEE Directive (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) which seeks to increase recycling and recovery of waste equipment, and the RoHS Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) which bans lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium(VI), PBBs and PBDEs both became European law. The Conformance website has a useful summary of WEEE and ROHS while the NPL website has a page of FAQs on "Lead-free".
- 2003: Proposal for an EuP Directive (Energy-using Products) to apply design for environment to E&E products across entire life cycle.
- 2005: Kyoto Protocol came into force on 16 February after ratification by Russia in December 2004:
- emissions capping and trading at international level, creating a new world market in CO2 emissions.
- 2005: DH Meadows, J Randers and DL Meadows "Limits to growth: the 30 years update" published.
- 2006: Lovelock "The Revenge of Gaia" states that "the Earth will move irreversibly to a new hot state. ... our future is like that of passengers on a small pleasure boat sailing quietly above the Niagara Falls, not knowing that the engines are about to fail" [page 6] and the "threshold for the failure of algae [floating in the ocean (to) actively remove carbon dioxide from the air and use it for growth] is about 500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide" [page 51].
- 2006: The Stern Review on the economics of climate change and development.
- 2006: Al Gore ("former future President of the United States") film An Inconvenient Truth (DVD in UoP Library) and Climate Crisis website.
- 2006: Dave Hackenberg detects first Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in bees on 12 November 2006.
- 2007: InterGovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers" reporting:
- atmospheric carbon dioxide at 379 ppm (vs 280 ppm pre-industrial value) with an annual (and increasing) growth rate of 1.9 ppm per year,
- methane at 1774 ppb (vs 715 ppb), and
- nitrous oxide at 319 ppb (vs 270 ppb) in 2005.
- 2007: Berenbaum suggests that "if honey bee numbers continue to decline at the rates documented from 1989 to 1996, managed honey bees will cease to exist by 2035.
- 2007: The 11th Hour examines the human relationship with earth from its earliest glimmers of innovation, to the challenges humanity faces in the present, to the possibilities of the future.
- 2007: "...essentially two conflicting concerns. The first is, Will we have sufficient natural resources for our burgeoning populations in the next century? and the second, and perhaps the more serious of the two, is, Even if we have enough, will we be able to survive the environmental consequences of their use? The paradox of having enough resources and having too many bad consequences of their use is one that needs our most serious attention as the new century unfolds". [1, p379].
- 2014: "Ever more people need ever more space and human activity continues to encroach on natural environments. This threatens biodiversity. Promoting stable population growth is directly related to preserving global resources and biodiversity" [Population Matters website, 17 December 2014].
- 2014: a useful discussion on Sustainable development by Bolis et al (2014) that includes:
- "the model induces corporations to survive in the long term, serving society as providers of employment, products and services (rather than exclusively the enrichment of a few stakeholders)",
- "without a change in perspective and in the economic system, it seems unlikely that sustainable development can be achieved", and
- "Although rules and regulations are necessary, it is even more important for people to understand why the commitment to sustainable development provides such interesting possibilities for living a meaningful life".
- 2015: "The total land devoted to forestry and agriculture is approximately 69% of the total surface land and expansion is almost nonexistent" [http://faostat.fao.org/site/339/default.aspx, accessed 03 January 2015].
- 2015: “In essence, market and policy failures have resulted in the structural mispricing of climate risks, exacerbated by short-termism, misaligned incentives and information asymmetries. This damage is expected to deepen - and risks becoming unmanageable if emissions
of greenhouse gases are not reduced to net zero levels between 2055 and 2070” [UNEP, 2015].
- July 2016: The globe’s warmest month since modern records began in 1880, according to NASA Earth Observatory [Earth Observatory].
- Tuesday 13 September 2016: The hottest UK September day since 1911 [Guardian].
- September 2016: When atmospheric CO2 normally at minimum, the monthly value failed to drop <400 ppm [data and image from Climate Central].
- 2016: XKCD graphic timeline (Creative Commons Attribution ~ NonCommercial licence)
- 2017: Temperature anomalies by country from 1880 to 2017
- 2035: managed honeybees will cease to exist? [Berenbaum, 2007]. Einstein is attributed (but this is hotly debated) to have said that "If bees disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more pollination, no more plants, no more man".
- 2046: "as [the ocean] warms, so the area of the sea that can support the growth of algae grows smaller as it is driven ever closer to the poles, until algal growth ceases. ... The threshold for the failure of the algae [which actively remove carbon dioxide from the air] is about 500 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide [which] we will reach ... in about forty years [Lovelock page 51].
- MR Berenbaum, Colony Collapse Disorder and Pollinator Decline, US House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture - Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Subcommittee Testimony on Problems in Domestic Bee Colonies, 29 March 2007.
- I Bolis, SN Morioka and LI Sznelwar, When sustainable development risks losing its meaning. Delimiting the concept with a comprehensive literature review and a conceptual model, Journal of Cleaner Production, 15 November 2014, 83, 7–20.
- P Hawken, AB Lovins and LH Lovins, Natural Capital: the next industrial revolution", Earthscan, London, 1999. ISBN 1-85383-461-0. 10th edition, 2010: ISBN 978-1-84407-170-8. PU CSH Library.
- James Lovelock, Gaia: a new look at life on earth, Oxford University Press, 1979. ISBN 0-19-217665-x. 1995 ISBN 0-19-286218-9. PU CSH Library.
- James Lovelock, The Revenge of Gaia: why the Earth is fighting back – and how we can still save humanity, Allen Lane, London, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0-713-99914-3. PU CSH Library.
- DH Meadows, DL Meadows, J Randers and WW Behrans, The Limits to Growth: a report for the Club of Rome’s Project on the Predicament of Mankind, Pan, London, 1974. ISBN 0-330-24169-9. PU CSH Library.
- DH Meadows, J Randers and DL Meadows, Limits to growth: the 30 years update, Earthscan, London, 2005. PU CSH Library.
- UNEP: The Comong Financial Climate (Inquiry: Design of a Sustainable Financial System), United Nations Environment Programme, May 2015
The Eco-Efficiency concept (Definitions from: http://www.eco-efficiency.de)
Ever since the Brundtland commission has submitted its final report in 1987 in which it introduced for the first time the idea of sustainable development, the discussions about what is to be understood by the term have not stopped. In the meantime there are more than a hundred definitions of the term Sustainable Development. Some of the most important definitions and links follow:
1987: Sustainable Development (World Commission on Environment and Development)
The WCED submitted its final report suggesting the following definition of Sustainable Development: "Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (Brundtland Commission Report 1987)
Sustainable Development (UNCED)
Almost all countries and states in the world signed and accepted the Rio declaration and thus incorporated sustainable development as a guiding line into their national politics.
1992: Eco-Efficiency (WBCSD)
The WBCSD defines eco-efficiency as the business strategy to implement sustainable development: "Eco-efficiency is reached by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life cycle, to a level at least in line with the earth's estimated carrying capacity".
1994: Factor 10 (Factor 10 Club)
The members of the Factor 10 Club adopted the Carnoules Declaration in which they speak up for a ten-fold increase in resource productivity.
1994: Sustainable Production and Consumption (IISD)
The Sustainable Consumption Symposium defines Sustainable Production and Consumption as: "[Sustainable production and consumption is] the use of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations".
1995: Factor Four (Wuppertal Institute)
The Factor Four book promotes the position to reduce the use of resources by at least a Factor Four. "The amount of wealth extracted from one unit of natural resources can quadruple. Thus we can live twice as well – yet use half as much" (Weizsaecker/Lovins/Lovins, 1995 p XVIII).
1995: Task Force Report: Goals for an Eco-Efficient Economy (President’s Council on Sustainable Development, USA)
The Task Force Eco-Efficiency of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development comes to the following conclusion: "The U.S. economy shall produce and use globally competitive goods and services while achieving environmental and social goals. This vision will result in a transition to an economy in which the constituents --people and businesses--provide for their needs and those of future generations through efficient and environmentally responsible practices".
1996: Eco-Efficiency and Cleaner Production (WBCSD/UNEP)
The WBCSD, together with UNEP, defines a common definition of Eco-Efficiency and Cleaner Production: "We believe that Cleaner Production and ... Eco-efficiency ... are preferred options. We understand Cleaner Production to be the continous application of an integrated, preventive strategy applied to processes, products and services in pursuit of economic, social, health, safety and environmental benefits".
- PP Rogers, KF Jalal and JA Boyd, An Introduction to Sustainable Development, Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-6740-1964-4. PU CSH Library.
- Mark Overton, Agricultural Revolution in England 1500-1850,
accessed Saturday 27 November 2004 13:39.
- DTI Sustainable Development Waste Management and Vehicle Recycling Team, End Of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive, circa 2001 (T: 020 7215 5861).
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Created by John Summerscales on 29 November 2004 and updated on
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