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I am author of the books Political Internet(Routledge, 2017), Intimate Speakers ( Fingerprint! 2017), has finished the typescript of three books—first, on Internet and sexuality; second, on the negative impacts of social media; and third, a novel—and is presently working on a narrative non-fiction with the working title Lovescape: Why India is afraid of love.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

In the past decade, there has been a great deal of pressure being applied on both developed and developing country governments to come with greener technologies that will supposedly lead to a more sustainable development. However, very little has been done to ensure that countries implement cleaner technologies (famously called going technologies). Identify the major reversal measures to global environmental threats. Do you think LDC and DC governments alike should take some measures in managing global environment?

The term technology refers to the application of knowledge for practical purposes and for easy way of doing things. The field of green technology encompasses a continuously evolving group of methods and materials from techniques for generating energy to non toxic cleaning products and ensuring safety of planet earth. The current expectation is that this green technology will bring innovation and changes in daily life of similar magnitude that can be attributed to the information technology explosion over the last few decades[1]. As the name implies green technology is one that has a green purpose in essence and purpose. By green we do not mean the colour but however, the Mother Nature is quite green and the long and short term impact an invention has on the environment is what we are talking about by green technology. Green inventions are environmentally friendly inventions that often involve things such as recycling, energy efficiency, renewable resources, safety and health concerns and more[2].
One of the best known examples of green technology would be the solar cell. Yet another simple invention that can be considered green is the reusable water bottle. The natural question is why do we go green as of now? The world has a fixed amount of natural resources and some of which are already depleted or ruined by now. For example, household batteries and electronics often contain dangerous chemicals that can pollute the groundwater after disposal thereby contaminating our soil and water with chemicals that cannot be removed from the drinking water supply and the food crops grown on contaminated soil. The risks to human health are great with out going green.
This is observed that going green will bring about sustainable development. So life on the planet will be far easier and peaceful if we adopt green technologies for development and industrial progress.
Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report[3]. Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future needs[4]."
To use the traditional definition, sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs", in other words ensuring that today's growth does not jeopardize the growth possibilities of future generations. Sustainable development thus comprises three elements - economic, social and environmental - which have to be considered in equal measure at the political level. The strategy for sustainable development, adopted in 2001 and amended in 2005, is complemented inter alia by the principle of integrating environmental concerns with policies and decisions in many of governments, organizations, global conferences etc which impact on the environment and ecological concerns of even developed and rest of the world[5].
The concept of sustainable development is both controversial and paradoxical. It is controversial because most people understand (correctly) that it may lead to changes in lifestyles. It is paradoxical because it entails reconciling goals that appear to be mutually exclusive. So many people think (incorrectly) that there are more important and urgent priorities[6].
Global environmental Apartheid
Sustainable development has become the leading environmental theme of our time. Like most great issues, the discussion about sustainable development involves an argument about our future. It is a concept of both common sense and controversy. It reflects common sense because no one is for a mode of life that diminishes our capital stock, which would make future generations poorer, or degrades our living conditions, which would make current and future generations less healthy. Yet sustainable development is also a subject of controversy because of the difficulty of comprehending the myriad linkages between environmental factors in a dynamic world[7].
It is clear that there exist an unequal exchange between global north and global south in respect of achieving sustainable development by strictly following the guidelines stipulated and actions to be undertaken by each government under the UNO. Some people, often those described as environmentalists, claim that sustainable development is an oxymoron. They critique the North's industrial economies and highly consumptive life styles as incorrigible assaults on the integrity of Mother Earth. They feel that people who talk about sustainable development are kidding themselves. Industrialized society is such an evil and is having such a negative impact on the ecosystem and on a majority of human beings within it that industrialized development cannot be salvaged. It must be scrapped, and we should start over with something smaller scale and more "appropriate[8]."
A second critique holds that sustainable development is either too environmentally or too business oriented; not enough attention is paid to the needs of poor people and those most adversely affected by environmental impacts, who, in this society, usually are ethnic/racial minorities[9]. So-called "Third World" countries from the global South have reacted negatively to the issue of conditionality. They claim that sustainable development is a dangerous imposition of more conditions to be placed on aid and investments from industrialized countries. Even though official development aid is at its lowest point since 1970 as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product) among the G7 countries, private investment is transforming parts of the South. It has nearly quadrupled since 1990, reaching approximately $170 billion this year. And recipient countries do not want the industrialized North to attach more restricting strings on either aid or investment in the guise of environmental protection.  The term "development" itself is a problem. To many it suggests a western, ethnocentric view of a belief in ongoing progress; this linear view of history clashes with other cultural views of history, e.g., circular or spiraling worldviews. Thus these critics propose alternative language, such as sustainable communities, because community is a central building block of societies in all their diversity[10].
Why failure to achieve sustainable development
Over the years there seems neither neither the developed countries nor the developing countries have achieved anything to ensure cleaner technologies. However there are some grave concerns over sustainable development and greener technologies. A global system of apartheid, empty belly versus full stomach and full discrepancy exist in the global management of environmental concerns.
Sustainable development often means designing pollution and waste out of the manufacturing cycle (industrial ecology) and thinking about a product in terms of its total life span, beyond its point of sale (also known as product life cycle management). Additionally, clean production may require a substantial investment in new technology and plants that is prohibitive to small business enterprises. These requirements challenge businesses and industries in virtually all sectors of an economy to change what they are doing and how they are doing it. What makes the task of change even harder is the fact that many established businesses and industries have been subsidized directly or indirectly through tax benefits conferred by national governments, which enhances the reluctance of businesses to change. But some businesses have pioneered change by embracing concepts of a restorative economy and natural capitalism[11].
Moreover, people faced with exposure and hunger will also contribute to environmental degradation to meet basic life needs. Whether in a developed or a developing country, poverty and the inability to meet basic needs for food, shelter, and care make some human communities even more vulnerable to environmentally degraded conditions of work, living, recreation, and education. Conflicts arise as these communities strive to participate in environmental decision making and decisions concerning the use of natural resources. These communities are often not welcomed into dialogue at a meaningful and early stage and are forced to seize opportunities to participate in controversial ways. In the United States, the environmental justice movement has pioneered processes of public participation designed to ensure community involvement with environmental decision making. Internationally, the United Nations has developed the Aarhus Convention to assure such participation. Banks and other international lenders are beginning to require such community participation in development projects. For example, the World Bank now requires community participation and accountability to communities in its lending programs under the Equator Principles. Additionally, ethnically stigmatized groups, women, and those disadvantaged by informal social forces are striving to use these methods and others to participate in environmental and economic decision making. In the United States, these efforts are being developed through the environmental justice movement. Internationally, the United Nations supports efforts to build strong nongovernmental organizations through which these and other community interests can be effectively championed. The United Nations activities are being developed through the Civil Society initiatives[12].
There is a strong international and national push for a new kind of environmentalism that includes sustainable development. Like all the environmental policies before it, sustainable development policies will need to have accurate, timely, and continuous data of all environmental impacts to be truly effective. So far, knowledge needs about environmental impacts generate strong political controversies. In the United States, most of the industry information is self-reported, the environmental laws are weakly enforced, and environmental governmental agencies are new. Sustainability will be controversial because it will open old controversies like right-to-know laws, corporate audit and anti-disclosure laws, citizen monitoring of environmental decisions, the precautionary principle, true cost accounting, unequal enforcement of environmental laws, and cumulative impacts[13].
Major reversal measures to global environmental threats
Undoubtedly all of us accept that in the past several decades, environmental threats and challenges are continuously becoming evident and alarming. The biochemistry of the planet earth is affected by global warming, climate change, ozone depletion, deforestation, species extinction, pollution, desertification and soil erosion. Global warming threatens to destabilize every bioregion on Earth in the new millennium. Several scientists predict climate changes of unprecedented magnitude. Changes that are now leading to worldwide loss of agricultural products, rising of oceans, floods, super hurricanes and could also lead to the whole destruction of the entire ecosystems. The atmospheric ozone depletion is causing additional cancers and deaths from exposure to deadly ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet rays also greatly decrease the growing capacity of plants and seriously weakening the immune systems of humans and animals, raising famine and pestilence. We are even witnesses to mass deforestation which is being done to give way to cattle pastures and cultivation and to provide logs for commercial and residential purposes. Cutting of trees are leading to massive soil erosion. Desertification makes the entire land surfaces of the planet in danger. Globally, a potentially catastrophic reduction in the gene pool of edible plants and animals has happened in just a few decades and is rapidly worsening. Researches show that every six minutes we are losing a species and we are experiencing now the loss of more than 15 percent of the entire planet and animal kingdom. Many of these species play a critical role in human survival, in providing us with food, fiber, pharmaceuticals and an array of useful substances and products[14].
In the past three decades there has been a global awakening regarding environmental issues. Considerable progress has been made in addressing a variety of very complex and technical problems associated with a historical disregard of these issues. But environmental issues continue to be some of the most important and perplexing problems facing all governments today. Part of the difficulty facing politicians and the public is the technical complexity of the subject. A full understanding of the risks is often limited to scientists who specialize in a particular field of knowledge. On some issues there is serious disagreement among scientists which puts lay policy makers in a very difficult dilemma.  The resolution of environmental problems also involves a careful balancing of competing interests and values. Business interests frequently resist attempts at environmental regulation and this resistance usually reflects a public demand for products and development. Some environmental activists oppose many aspects of further human economic development because of threats to the remainder of the ecosystem. Others are chiefly concerned about current and future threats to the health of the human population.  Environmental issues present special difficulties for developing countries. These countries pose the biggest potential threat of exacerbating threats to the environment. But absent massive infusions of assistance from richer countries, they simply cannot afford to match environmental controls being adopted by developed countries[15].
At the global level there has been many efforts encounter the challenge of environmental threat way back from Stockholm conference 1972, Nairobi Conference 1982, Rio de Janeiro 1992,   Johannesburg 2002 and finally Durban 2012 has been a series of global conferences hosted by the UNO gathered to try and reach a deal to stop global warming. However most of the series of actions taken in almost all the global policy responses. Kyoto protocol has been one of such historic meet where some controversial decisions have been taken which by any means is objectionable to a host of countries in the global south.
The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997. Due to a complex ratification process, it entered into force on 16 February 2005.  In short, the Kyoto Protocol is what “operationalizes” the Convention. It commits industrialized countries to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions based on the principles of the Convention. The Convention itself only encourages countries to do so.  KP, as it is referred to in short, sets binding emission reduction targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community in its first commitment period. Overall, these targets add up to an average five per cent emissions reduction compared to 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008 to 2012 (the first commitment period).  KP was structured on the principles of the Convention. It only binds developed countries because it recognizes that they are largely responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere, which are the result of more than 150 years of industrial activity. KP places a heavier burden on developed nations under its central principle: that of “common but differentiated responsibility”. In Doha, Qatar, on 8 December 2012, the Doha Agreement to the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. This launched a second commitment period, starting on 1 January 2013 until 2020[16].
Alliance between LDC and DC on Environmental Challenges
Developing countries will be affected most by climate change, the poorest least developed countries LDCs and Small Island developing States (SIDS) in particular, as these do not have sufficient resources to prepare for and adapt to current changes of global environmental challenges. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa is particularly vulnerable to this challenge. Specifically, Africa will be exposed to water stress, extreme weather events and food insecurity associated with drought and desertification[17].
While multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognize the enormous global challenges posed by climatic changes, these agreements often fall short on pragmatic financial and other mechanisms to assist the most vulnerable countries in addressing these challenges. Contemporary climate change diplomacy mirrors this phenomenon, as science and global politics interact and converge to confront the vulnerabilities of SIDS where sustainable livelihoods are threatened by climate change-induced food, water, health and other insecurities[18].
The principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” recognizes the asymmetries of the international system, especially the differential levels of technological, financial, economic and human capacities between industrialized/developed and developing countries in international environmental negotiations. Despite these asymmetries, every nation has an obligation to participate in joint efforts to tackle shared global environmental problems according to each nation’s capacity and level of development. However, industrialized countries have an obligation to bear a greater burden of these shared problems[19].
To be sustainable and efficient in the context of the SIDS, as elsewhere in most of the developing world, climate change adaptation and mitigation require enormous financial resources, technology transfer and, most importantly, effective national, regional and global policy and governance frameworks. In order to develop and strengthen the coping capacities of the most vulnerable, adaptation and mitigation measures must be targeted, with the SIDS having clear “ownership” of these measures[20].
Numerous proposals have been made in climate change negotiations for mechanisms aimed at diffusing green technology between developing and least developed countries. Most of the proposals emphasize a form of “public-private partnership”. Because acquiring the necessary licenses to such technologies would inevitably implicate intellectual property “rights”, making such technologies available as public goods in SIDS and most developing countries would prove exceedingly difficult and raises questions of “who owns the knowledge economy”? To address this technology conundrum, India has proposed “a global network of innovation centres that could promote local and regional action both on mitigation and adaptation, taking into account local circumstances and particularities”[21]
Mere science will not solve the present environmental challenges. Moreover, the most important solution can be the political solution, the countries of developing and least developing countries should have a platform to cooperate and have collective bargaining and platform of action by which the global negotiation platform will not be in a position to impose equally binding stipulations in all member states.


[1] See( http://www.green-technology.org/what.htm) accessed on 21-03-2013
[2] Mary Bellis, Introduction to Green Technology,  About.com Guide, (http://inventors.about.com/od/greeninventions/p/green_invention.htm) accessed on 21-03-2013
[3] See report available at (http://www.iisd.org/pdf/2012/sd_timeline_2012.pdf) accessed on 21-03-2013
[4] See What is Sustainable Development?, The International Institute for Sustainable Development, (http://www.iisd.org/sd/#one) accessed on 21-03-2013
[5] See Sustainable development, (http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/environment/sustainable_development/index_en.htm) accessed on 21-03-2013
[6]See  Luis T. Gutierrez, Sustainable Development: Controversial and Paradoxical, Alternative Channel, (http://www.alternativechannel.tv/blog/en/comments/sustainable_development_controversial_and_paradoxical) accessed on 21-03-2013
[7] Dr. Steven Hayward, Elizabeth Fowler, and Laura Steadman, published on April 4, 2000, (http://www.mackinac.org/2838) accessed on 21-03-2013
[8] Jeffrey Brown, What Is Sustainable Development?( http://www.globallearningnj.org/iste.htm) accessed on 21-03-2013
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Essay on controversies over sustainable development, (http://www.essayempire.com/customessay/sociology-research-papers/globalization-issues/4549.html) accessed on 21-03-2013
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Liwayway Memije-Cruz, Aug 17, 2010 , Global Environmental Threats and Challenges,( http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6543679-global-environmental-threats-and-challenges) accessed on 21-03-2013
[15] What are the most recent developments regarding environmental matters? September 2009, (http://www.newsbatch.com/environment.htm) accessed on 21-03-2013.
[16] Making those first steps count: An Introduction to the Kyoto Protocol, UNFCC, (http://unfccc.int/essential_background/kyoto_protocol/items/6034.php) accessed on 21-03-2013
[17] Global climate change alliance, (http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/development/sectoral_development_policies/r13016_en.ht) accessed on 21-03-2013
[18] Obijiofor Aginam, 2011-12-08, Climate change diplomacy and small island developing states, United Nations University,( http://unu.edu/publications/articles/climate-change-diplomacy-and-small-island-developing-states.html) accessed on 21-03-2013
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.

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