Crossing the 4th line

In 2010, the Stockholm Resilience Centre revealed ‘nine biological and environmental boundaries’, that once crossed, would spell disaster for the human race. These include the loss of fresh water and widespread chemical pollution. By observing the change in pollutant emissions, the researchers are able to monitor and access the current health of the planet.

According to the Stockholm researchers, the human race has already crossed three of these boundaries, as can be evidenced by the excess CO2 emissions in the atmosphere, rapid rates of species loss, and excessive nitrogen concentrations in our rivers and oceans. The erosion of forestland is also nearing the limit set out by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. This inhibits the “planet’s ability to absorb some of that carbon dioxide and to produce water vapor, crucial to plant life”, as well as the Earth’s ability for climatic self-adjustment based on the absorption and reflection of photo-thermal energy. We can no longer abuse the environment for economic growth; there must be consequences for being able to capitalize on the resources that we are all entitled to as residents of the planet. The Stockholm Resilience Centre concludes that responsibility for fostering change in current emission patterns lies with global heads of state.

January 2016 anticipates the completion of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, which were created as a means to guide nations in crafting policies for environmental sustainability. So far, the agreement has acted as a guideline for governments setting out to develop and shape their foreign policies in terms of the provision of aid to end poverty overseas, and has been utilized by NGOs to hold governments and corporations accountable for their environmental infractions.

Perhaps the UNDP must attach a “punishment clause” to the Millenium Development Goals in order to ensure its efficacy. By encouraging local adherence to UNDP objectives, and innovation in attaining the goals, local communities are likely to take ownership of their part in affecting the global environment. Financial retribution alone is sure to prove ineffective, if not harmful to local communities, as it does not help to promote innovative solutions to the economy vs. environment dichotomy, while hurting local stakeholders in the process, at least in the short term.

 

 

 

About Yanish Bhoolaton

Yanish Bhoolaton is an undergraduate Public Administration and Political Science student in at York University and the Expanding Community Program Editor at the NATO Council of Canada. Being previously employed as a Research Assistant at the York Regional Municipality, his background includes public administration and policy analysis, more specifically analyzing and researching accessibility and immigration issues. He has successfully built indicators to measure and monitor organizational change and researched the laws and regulations governing accessibility and diversity policies of different cities, municipalities and organizations within Ontario. Yanish aspires to continue his education in international relations and business, with hopes to work within the Federal Canadian government. His interests include economic development, globalization, human rights, public policy and Canadian politics. In addition to school and work, Yanish enjoys travelling, skiing and tennis. Email: yanishbhoolaton@gmail.com