It’s easier for some countries to switch over to sustainability than others. That’s because some industries are simply much harder to make sustainable than others. For example, how can you dig up metal sustainably? Either it’s in the ground or it’s not and we haven’t yet figured out how to put more in there (or a reason why we’d want to).
And yet, there are plenty of commodity economies which are trying to become more sustainable. Here we’ll look at some of the biggest ones and discuss what they’re getting up to, to change the equation and have less of an impact on their own environment and the world at large.
For the longest time Australia was about as far away from sustainable as they could possibly get. That was mainly because for the longest time Australia felt that digging stuff up out of the ground was far more important than caring for the environment.
In the last couple of years, that’s been changing pretty drastically, however. And it was about time as there are plenty of environmental problems in this country. Mainly those are down to water and desertification.
Of course, as everybody needs water they’ve been changing around on that front quite drastically. They’ve also started winning sweet water from the sea through desalination.
The big problem? Energy. Australia still has one of the highest CO2 outputs for a developed country. That’s largely due to the huge amount of coal the country digs out of the ground and though it ships off a lot to China, it still uses a great deal for power generation in the country. As a result, it’s the 12th worst in the world in terms of CO2 output.
For the longest time, Brazil was a basket case in terms of jungle preservation. We all still remember those times when they were cutting down several football fields a day in the Amazon. That’s fortunately been reversed to a great extent.
The reasons? One big one is that there has been incredible pressure on the country to change its ways. This has had some very serious effects, with President GetúlioVargas declaring that:
“The Amazon, in the impact of our will and labor, will cease to be a simple chapter in the world, and made equivalent to other great rivers, shall become a chapter in the history of human civilization. Everything which has up to now been done in Amazonas, whether in agriculture or extractive industry… must be transformed into rational exploitation.”
Another big reason, however, was GMO. Through the development of new crops which has already been won from the Amazon (land that was previously too salty to support crops) the land that was once used only for a short time for crop growth can now be used for much longer.
This has reduced the need for more jungle to be cut down and has made Brazilian farming far more sustainable than it previously was.
It wasn’t that long ago that China was seen as the biggest problem in our attempts to fight global warming. And though it is certainly still true that China has a lot of polluting practices and the amount of CO2 their outputting is rising, there are some very encouraging signs from the country in terms ofgreenification.
“They’re very quickly moving away from coal production and finding alternative ways to win power. They’re trying to become theleading country in terms of electric car production,” explainsAdaPovey, content editor atBestWritersCanada.comand ecology student.“They’re trying to accelerate the country’s passage from an industrial economy to a service economy. And they’re sharpening all sorts of regulations to make certain pollution is brought under control.”
Of course, this was necessary. For the longest time,the country had the most polluted cities in the world, with many of the country’s cities scoring in the dangerous area in terms of how dangerous the air was for its citizens.
Similarly, the country’s deserts were growing at an astounding rate. This was leading to all sorts of problems, such as a loss of agricultural lands.
In other words, they didn’t have much choice. At the same time, the speed at which they’ve thrown over their economy and changed their thinking has been phenomenal. As they’ve gone from one of the worst offenders to one of the strongest champions for green technology.
Mongolia was not so long ago one of the most commodity have countries in the world. As a result, relying almost exclusively on mining and resource gathering. But rather thangoing the way of other resource-rich countries – such as Russia and Venezuela. Then who did not diversify, Mongolia successfully used that wealth to create an economy which is far more sustainable today.
They invested in education and infrastructure which in turn allowed new nascent industries to be developed. These, in turn, have created the opportunity for its people to move out of commodities and into more sustainable fields and areas.
Of course, asthis paper notes, it hasn’t yet managed to transition completely and it is still vulnerable. Still, there are a lot of positive signals that the Mongolian economy will reach greater sustainability and be an exciting new country that other growing and lower income economies can look at to see how they too can achieve sustainability.
There is hope
All this shows that even big polluters can shift their economies and become far more sustainable – and they can do so quickly. All it takes is people who want to change things, as well as clear signals that not changing things is simply not an option.
Whether that will be enough for the remaining big polluters waits to be seen. Here is to hoping that we can teach old dogs new tricks.
About the author:Natalie Andersen is the chief content editor atGetGoodGrade.comand founder ofCanada-Writers. She believes that everyone can make a difference to help save the Earth.
The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from:
# Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions)
# Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman
# Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel
# Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky
# Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley
# Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke
# Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley
# Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea
# and more green living books to follow.