‘The continued destruction of the environment is inevitable.’ Do you agree?

With humanity’s desire for economic progress and technological advancements, rampant urbanisation and developments have gradually replaced Earth’s natural landscape with towering skyscrapers and concrete pavements. The loss of habitats and biodiversity, deforestation, pollution and the overall degradation of the environment has not been a rare occurrence for the past centuries. Humans have long sacrificed the conservation of nature for growth and success. Many thus believe that this prevalent trend of the destruction of the environment will remain constant in the future. However, I remain hopeful that mankind will will put in efforts to save the Earth while progressing economically through alternatives resources, government protocols and various technological innovations. Therefore, I do not agree with the statement that “the continued destruction of the environment is inevitable.”

Firstly, some may argue that environmental degradation will remain as time progresses due to humanity’s pursuit of economic success and development. In the midst of constructing factories, buildings and infrastructure, acres oil wildlife’s natural habitats and reduced biodiversity. As factories consume energy and emit greenhouse gases. Finite natural resources are depleted and climate change is exacerbated. This was especially true during the era of the Industrial Revolution, where machinery and mechanisation majorly contributed to carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, fossil fuels and trees decrease in amount, and the environment is further destroyed. Some are certain that this trend will continue in the future and cannot be avoided. Currently, a large portion of Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest has been deforested releasing huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming, a pressing issue of the modern world today. The wood harvested from such rainforests are sued for the manufacturing and sale of furniture ships and paper; while the land cleared makes space available for urbanisation. Hence, many feel that the environment is currently and will continually be destroyed for the sake of economic progress and development. The fact that entire forests are being cut down for the sale of resources to boost and economy, and the clearing of land to allow for urbanisation, is a clear indication of this argument. 

Secondly, critics may argue that the continued harm will be inflicted upon the environment due to rapid globalisation. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, more energy and resources are used in the transport of resources and travelling. For instance, 90% of Singapore’s food is imported and sources international. With the high levels of greenhouse gases emitted from transportation, manufacturing, and packing of food, it is no wonder that environmental degradation is so prevalent today. Furthermore, the energy consumed for travelling across continents exacerbate global warming as tourists arrive at their destinations. The tourism industry also contributes to environmental change as tourists from around the globe visit natural attractions and generate pollution, litter or trample and destroy the natural environment. All this is only made possible with the advent of globalisation that allows objects and humans to be easily transported around the world. Thus, some believe that as the globe becomes increasingly globalised, the destruction of nature will continue to occur through the high carbon footprint of transportation.

On the other hand, rapid technological advancements can give rise to creative solutions and alternatives to prevent continued environmental destruction in the future while still ensuring the continued development of humanity. Many alternative renewable sources of energy have been invented to replace traditional means of burning fossil fuels and coal. These include wind, solar, hydrological, nuclear and geothermal sources of energy, that are usually most eco-friendly. This is evident of the fact that countries can continue to develop successfully without causing severe environmental harm, and natural habitats need not be sacrificed. Innovation in science and technology also open up pathways for saving the Earth and conserving nature. Recently, students in China have created a photosynthetic material that is functionally similar to plants – reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere and purifying the air by releasing oxygen. Such examples serve to highlight the power of technology in conserving nature and that economic progress and the conservation of nature are not mutually exclusive, where one variable need not be sacrificed to the other to occur. With the potential of humankind, future advancements in technology have the capacity to aid in solving environmental issues and developing economically. Therefore, I strongly believe that the continued destruction of nature can be avoided in the future.

Next, continued environmental degradation can be avoided through international agreements and a worldwide effort to curb the destruction of nature. Every country, regardless of its level of development, plays a role in saving the Earth. If each nation actively attempts to prevent environmental destruction, this issue can be resolved in the future. For example, the Paris Climate Agreement and Kyoto protocol are international efforts to cut down on individual countries greenhouse gas emissions. Even the little red dot of Singapore has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 20% from its 2005 levels by the year 2030. With the current measures and efforts put into place to save the earth from environmental degradation, the continued destruction of the environment is thus avoidable in the future. However, there are limitations to this solution. Donald Trump pulling the United States of America (USA) out of the Paris Climate agreement is one prominent example. The USA’s a major contributor of carbon emissions, and withdrawing from international agreement will exacerbate the issue of global warming. In this case, countries should carry out individual governmental protocols to save the environment independently. For instance, 20% of the USA’s energy is said to be generated by wind power by 2030. Therefore, I believe that environmental destruction is not inevitable if multiple nations pledge to resolve environmental issues as one. The efforts of many nations will have a dramatic effect on the conservation of the environment. 

Lastly, government campaigns and protocols can prevent the continued destruction of the environment in the future. Efforts by governmental agencies can have a large influence on the preservation and protection of a country’s natural habitats and biodiversity. For example, Bhutan is a country that practices sustainable tourism, where a limited quantity of tourists also have to contribute to Bhutan’s conservation efforts by providing monetary support. This sustainable efforts in Bhutan thus demonstrates that the environment can be conserved despite the rampant globalisation of today. Financial gains from the tourism industry can also aid in economic progress, without disturbing or damaging the country’s actual environment. Another instance is Singapore’s sustainable blueprint that promotes the ideology of a Garden City. Urbanisation and the natural environment can co-exist and one should not be destroyed from the other. This is thus evidence of the prevention of environmental degradation through governmental means and protocols. Therefore, with the country’s effort, the continued destruction of the environment can be avoided in the future, as economic development and nature conservation can go hand in hand.  In conclusion, although the pursuit of economic growth and globalisation significantly contributes to the destruction of the environment today, advancements and innovation in science and technology can counter its effects by conserving nature and providing alternative solutions. The constant efforts of both international communities and individual counties can also prevent environmental degradation by emphasising on sustainability to protect the environment for future generations. Therefore, the continued destruction of the environment is not inevitable. With planet Earth as our only home, humankind must ensure that this is true, otherwise the impacts would be devastating.

Lee Ying Hui Amber (19-I2)