Week 11

This week’s focus was on evolution, a topic I personally find really interesting. For evolution to occur within a species three elements are essential, that is variation; that this is a difference in the genetic makeup of a species which can arise due to genetic mutation, natural selection; the concept that organisms  with the advantageous adaption to their environment will be better fit for survival than others and geographical isolation; that due to lack of cross breading due to the species isolation they will evolve further and wont become more similar as is in the case where cross breading occurs. Geographical isolation serves to explain the very unique flora and fauna found in Australia, our native species evolved for 1,000s of year removed from other species and thus did not cross bread and become homogenized.

We also revisited the concept of sustainability that has driven the unit. I have come to understand the definition of sustainability as the capacity of our human society to continue indefinitely within the natural cycles of the environment. Through the course we have also explored the various factors that effect our earth’s sustainability and its roots have been identified below. In relation to the definition causes of sustainability would be anything that causes disruptions to the natural cycles of the environment.

Root causes of Unsustainability

  • We extract large flows of materials from the Earth’s crust

These materials are things like oil, coal, gas, metals all of which are rare elements of the biosphere of the earth. Humans extract these resources at alarming rates and nature simply cannot renew them in time. This shows that humanity needs to have a deeper focus on care for the physical environment.

  • There is an accumulation of substances created by society

Humans do not have a good way with dealing with waste. In fact we create many chemical compounds that cannot be broken down and will remain in our environment for centuries. We also create substances that already exist in nature such as carbon dioxide, this has the negative effect as too much of the substance builds up and nature cannot cope with the amount.

  • We inhibit nature’s capacity to run natural cycles

Humans interrupt the vital process of photosynthesis through our mass logging of trees, cutting them down at a faster rate than they can grow. Thus contributing to higher levels of CO2 in the air and lower levels of oxygen as the carbon cycle is interrupted. Also the mass removal of forestation for man made structures destroys complicated ecosystems and breaks down whole food webs.

  • We create barriers to people meeting their basic needs worldwide

The fourth aspect has a social focus. It highlights the responsibility we have as a global community to ensure that all humans are meeting basic living conditions. However the widespread use of sweatshops by large companies to produce cheap goods prevents this. These companies take away the natural resources of communities which deeply affect their living conditions and are essentially forced to work in factories. We as consumers support this by buying the cheap products which continues to worsen the living conditions for these people.

These four roots of unsustainability highlight that for humanity to reach the concept of a sustainable future we need to address the centres of care of of distant others, care of non human animals and care of the physical environment. If we showed care for distant others we would stop buying products that were created from sweatshops and instead support companies that follow a triple bottom line plan. If we showed care for non human animals we wouldn’t be massively destroying habitat and instead would help to support the delicate ecosystems. If we showed care for the physical environment we wouldn’t be creating a build up of dangerous chemicals and wouldn’t be using the earth’s finite resources at an unsustainable rate but instead would focus on how we can limit the use of raw materials and instead reuse and recycle the material we already have.

The extreme toll human activity has had and continues to have on the planet is explored in the video below. It demonstrates that anthropogenic factors, that is human created factors are responsible for climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that “Human influence on the climate change system is clear”, showing that although it is known that the earth naturally warms and cools that we are at a point where we are outside those natural patterns and boundaries and need to take responsibility for our effect on global warming.


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