Around the world, small island nations whose existence is threatened by climate change and other environmental dangers are pioneering innovative technologies to both help the environment and foster economic growth. At the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) meetings last week in New York, participants discussed a variety of environmentally friendly technologies that island nations can use to develop their economies in more sustainable ways—from tidal energy and sea cucumber harvesting to new methods to revive coral reefs.
Thomas Goreau with the coral-growing company Biorock stressed the importance of bolstering struggling coral reefs, which are dying in many areas because of global warming, pollution, and other human impacts. Reefs are valuable not only because they attract fish and tourists, Goreau noted, but because they protect shores from erosion and the impacts of strong waves. He described how his company is promoting the use of underwater steel structures that, when charged with an electric current, can help coral communities grow at 3 to 5 times the natural rate. Tests using the swimmer-safe structures show that the resulting corals can survive in water temperatures 16 to 50 times higher than in surrounding reefs, providing a possible solution for coral survival in warming oceans, Goreau explained.
While Goreau and his team have used solar panels in the past to generate electricity for their reef-growing structures, they are currently developing systems that rely on tidal energy. Tidal power is more predictable than solar and wind power, less environmentally damaging than hydroelectric dams, and widely applicable, according to Roger Bason, president of Natural Currents Energy Services, who also spoke at the CSD event. Tidal energy expert Scott Anderson noted that 80 to 90 percent of the equipment needed to assess and harvest tidal power can be built using low-cost, low technology resources, making it affordable for poorer island nations.
Other innovations for small island nations discussed at the CSD included a business plan based on cooperative ownership of sustainably harvested sea cucumbers; a low-cost shelling machine to significantly reduce the labor required for preparing nuts, a major source of protein; and a process for converting sewage into energy, fertilizer, and clean water.
Alana Herro writes for Eye on Earth (e²), a service of World Watch Magazine in partnership with the blue moon fund. e² provides a unique perspective on current events, newly released studies, and important global trends.
Dear Friends and Colleagues All,
I am searching for a road to sustainability.
Perhaps someone can offer guidance to me and those many elders in my not-so-great generation who have evidently chosen to eschew science and, for the sake of the comforts in our lives alone, to hold onto our one and only God: wealth accumulation and the power associated with it. Regardless of the consequences to environmental health, human wellbeing, the future of life, and the integrity of Earth, we want more and more money and all the things derived from it. Yes, we are insatiable, intellectually dishonest, and even call ourselves Masters of the Universe. We are loathe to live within the limits of biophysical reality, share resources, make behavior changes, and do what is necessary for assuring life as we know it to coming generations.
Please consider assisting me with an unfulfilled responsibility to young people and future generations...... a responsibility I call a “duty to warn”.
Without success over the past several years, I have been inviting population scientists, demographers, biologists, economists and anyone else with appropriate expertise to openly comment on the apparently unexpected and unchallenged evidence on human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth from Russell P. Hopfenberg and David I. Pimentel. I want to identify a deeply dedicated, top-rank brother or sister in the scientific community who possesses the necessary expertise and is willing to report in a professional manner on the Hopfenberg/Pimentel research?
According to this scientific evidence, humanity could soon come face to face with daunting global challenges, ones that result primarily from 1)unbridled human overpopulation of Earth; 2) unrestrained per human over-consumption of scarce resources and 3) endless expansion of the global political economy in the relatively small, finite world God has blessed us to inhabit.
Thanks for your consideration of this feeble request for help. Please feel free to contact me directly with a name or else have the scientist get in touch with me by email. I will do whatsoever is necessary to fulfill this unlikely personal obligation, one for which I am evidently unprepared and poorly equipped.
(Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D.,M.P.A.
AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population
1834 North Lakeshore Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514-6733
Sustainability is an issue close to my heart and I am lucky in that my country has been in a self imposed isolation till the late 1990s. I am from Bhutan and I am proud to mention here that we are one in a few countries in the world where forest cover is increasing over the years, currently, 72.3% of the total land cover in Bhutan is covered by forest, most of them primary and 28% of the total land area fall under either national reserves, parks or biological corridors. I would like to point out two right things that we did in Bhutan:
1. Instead of embarking on policies leading to rapid, unsustainable growth, our leaders took us forward by coining a term called "Gross National Happiness". Instead of taking economic development as the primary goal of the country, Gross National Happiness stresses equal importance on social equity, cultural and spiritual preservation, environmental conservation and good governance. if you are interested, you can get more information on GNH from www.cbs.org.bt.
2. With the Gross National Happiness as the development philosophy, much of the country's development has been concentrated in the field of Run of the River Hydropower plants in collaboration with India. Bhutan generates about 2000 MW of hydropower right now and about 80% is exported to India, thereby generating the much needed revenue to finance the social sectors.
I am not trying to project Bhutan as the Utopia of the 21st Century, but in the field of Environment Conservation and valuing ecosystem services, we are leading the world.
Sadly, the small size of the country makes our contribution to the global reduction in green house gases very miniscule and most often we get ridiculed in the international fora.
I think the countries of the North can learn a lot from the example of Bhutan and help in her endeavours in implementing the Gross National Happiness directives.