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Unintended consequences in sustainable developmentThere is no intention here to belittle the efforts of anyone seeking to pursue environmental interests or concerns. This section is merely intended to point out the unforeseen or unintended consequences when environmental programs are not properly planned or thought through to their ultimate conclusion. The Yellowstone Fire of 1988 is directly attributable to bad environmental regulation that was meant only to help protect the very same environment it was ultimately responsible for destroying.

In that case, while the unchecked cutting of timber and other logging efforts certainly was not beneficial to the environment, the restrictions from the ensuing environmental regulations were so strict that they even disallowed the removal of deadwood and other organic debris that would soon provide the requisite fuel for a lightning strike, allowing for a fire that would ultimately consume more than three hundred thousand hectares or around seven hundred and fifty thousand acres. Improperly managed reforestation programs have destroyed entire ecosystems by introducing non-native species and not managing or controlling the growth.

All of these incidents could have been avoided with proper planning and foresight regarding the actual consequences of the respective actions. This does not even begin to take into consideration the concept of reclamation that seems to be increasingly popular today.

One project has seen the development of viable soil in the middle of the Australian Outback. It is theoretically possible at least, that all of the deserts of the world could be reclaimed naturally within a matter of years. However, just because such an action is possible, does not necessarily mean that it is wise or beneficial. How much is truly understand about the way that the individual portions of the global environment physically interact with one another? The global environment is a vastly more complicated web of different types of environments and ecosystems and more factors than any computer model can handle with today’s best technology at the time of this writing.

Does this mean that this same program can not be utilized in China where vast stretches of agricultural and urban lands are being consumed by the surrounding desert? How about shoreline erosion? Should all of it be stopped simply because it can be? The Nevada desert high in Northern Nevada is situated more than thirteen hundred meters or about forty-three hundred feet above sea level, yet at some distant time in the past, it was at the bottom of the ocean. Which “environment” is the proper one for that region? 

Glacier Bay in Alaska is yet another classic symbol of an ever changing environment, none of which lasted forever and all of which are cyclical in nature. The glaciers, bays, mountains and valleys surrounding the Alaska Bay have been thawing and freezing for as far back as can be seen scientifically resulting in the unique and beautiful environment that is known there today ... but is that the ideal climate for that region? Should it be frozen in time forever? Thawed for forever in time? What is its natural state if not a state of constant change?

How about Chicago, Illinois in the United States? Is the climate there now ideal or would it be better to turn the clock back some ten thousand years to a time before the commencement of the destruction of the environment by humanity? It should probably be noted however, that what is now known as Chicago was under well over a kilometer of ice at the time.

Niagara Falls is yet another classic example of an ever-changing environmental issue that is often over-simplified for the sake of political expediency and “real-good/feel-good” actions. Niagara Falls is essentially nothing more than a runoff drain for the Great Lakes in the North American Continent along the US and Canadian border. Left unchecked, the erosion caused by Niagara Falls would tear away all of the homes and resorts built around that area and progress for as long as there was water contained within and being released from the Great Lakes.

When it comes to environmental issues, it is one area in which there is still so much more to be learned that there are no absolute answers. Environmental Causes these days are often subtle instances of government encroachment, oppression, control and a steady income source with very little actual concern for the environment itself, despite what many activists may truly believe.

This does not however, mean that any efforts can be carelessly or haphazardly implemented, much less ignored altogether. All of the requisite research must be thoroughly completed and reviewed before any construction or environmentally sensitive projects can be implemented.

Return to the Table of Contents for Whole System Sustainable Development

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