Sustainability : The Moral Dilemma

2065 Words Dec 3rd, 2014 9 Pages
Sustainability: The Moral Dilemma
The moral debate over the concept of sustainable development hinges on the balance between ensuring resources for the future over the immediate benefit for the present. The essential question, as it pertains to the engineering field, is which takes precedent; preservation or profit.
Sustainability is the principle of meeting our current needs without compromising reserves for future generations. This idea came about in response to the unintended social and environmental consequences which resulted from the exponential population growth of recent centuries. One example being the solid waste bi-products of burning coal. While coal fueled the industrial age (as well as our current era) with cheap and available power, the waste products totaling in hundreds of millions of tons of mercury, uranium, and other heavy metals annually polluted surrounding ecosystems. These chemicals decimate existing vegetation and displace local wildlife, all for the cost of producing an energy resource. The production of coal, however, still provides more than half of the United States’ domestic energy, and enables the nation to reduce its reliance on foreign fuel sources and utilizes tens of thousands of American employees.
Likewise, deforestation of the rainforests hinders the once fertile soil and uproots millions of species of flora and fauna. It is estimated that twenty-seven thousand plant and animal species are lost each year. Even more, cutting away…

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