An exceeded way of thinking?

Historically, the way of thinking at the origin of the Industrial revolution of the XIXth century introduced essentially economic criteria of growth, main easily measurable criterion: so the Gross national product appeared in 1930s, is often seen as the indicator of the good health of a country. Corrections were brought in the second half of the XIXth century on the social plan, with important social headways. From that moment, the expression “economic and social” became a part of the common vocabulary.

But developed countries (or country of the North) became aware since the oil crises of 1973 and 1979 when their prosperity was based on the extensive use of finished natural resources, and when consequently, besides the economic and the social, the third aspect had been neglected: the environment. For certain analysts, the model of industrial development is not viable or unbearable on the environmental plan, because not allowing a “development” which can last. The crucial points are the depletion of natural resources (raw materials, fossil fuels for the human beings), the destruction and the fragmentation of the ecosystems, the decrease of the biodiversity which decrease the capacity of the planet to regenerate or the climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. The industrial disasters of these last thirty years (Chernobyl, Seveso, Bhopal, Exxon Valdez, etc.) called to the public opinion and to associations such as the WWF, the Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace.

In the problem of viability is added a problem of equity: the poor countries are the first victims of the ecological and climatic crisis, and the wish of growth of underdeveloped countries (often called country of the South) towards a state of similar prosperity, built on equivalent principles, implies degradation even more important and accelerated of the biosphere. So, if all the States of the planet adopted the "American Way Of Life" (who consumes about 25 % of the resources of the Earth for 7 % of the population), according to the environmentalist association WWF, it would be needed 5 or 6 planets to meet the needs of all.

The current development being a consumer of non-renewable resources and considered by these critics as inequitable, a reflection was led around a new mode of development, called "sustainable development".

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