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Environmental Sustainability – The Ultimate Guide

What is Environmental Sustainability?

Environmental Sustainability is one of the three disciplines of sustainability, other than the environment, the other two disciplines are economic and social sustainability. Another way to describe the disciplines is “people, profit, and planet” to represents “social, economic, and environment” correspondingly. In this article, we are going to focus and provide everything you need to know about social sustainability. Environmental sustainability is a major driving force for ESG investing.

Environmental Sustainability Definition, Meanings, synonyms

Environmental sustainability defines a boundary for us to satisfy our current needs without anyway compromising the quality of the environment/ecosystem so that it remains equally capable of supporting the future generations too. Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The environment is the primary but not the only consideration within sustainability; it is important to also consider human welfare.

Environmental sustainability is synonymous to nature sustainability, green sustainability, earth sustainability, or planet sustainability.

Environmental Sustainability Issues

Environmental sustainability is a popular topic of discussion recently as people are concern about climate changes and the future of the planet. Environmental sustainability covers a wide range of issues starting from a specific location to global. Global issues comprise concerns about GHG mitigation, climate change, and renewable energy, while the location-specific issues are soil erosion, water management, soil quality, and air and water pollution.

Shifting to renewable resources and energies

Environmental sustainability issues to use renewable energy
Environmental Renewable Energy – Solar Energy

Renewable energy is sometimes referred or to sustainable energy. Literally ‘to make new again’, a renewable resource is one that is naturally replenished with time, as the growth of new organisms or natural recycling of materials. Renewable energy is any energy production that uses one of these resources. Renewable resources do not have a fixed quantity – more can always be generated. There are different types of renewable energies, including:

  • Solar power
  • Wind power
  • Hydropower
  • Tidal power
  • Geothermal power

A renewable resource is a natural resource that will replenish to replace the portion depleted by usage and consumption, either through natural reproduction or other recurring processes in a finite amount of time in a human time scale. Renewable resources are a part of Earth’s natural environment and the largest components of its ecosphere. A positive life cycle assessment is a key indicator of a resource’s sustainability. Resources are considered non-renewable if they take a very long time to be created such as fossil fuel. or if their creation happened long ago and is not likely to happen again such as uranium. Flows are almost always renewable. On the other hand, biofuels are renewable and definitely count as fuels.

Solar Power as Sustainable renewable energy

Solar energy means converting the heat from the solar sun into energy format we can use, mostly electricity. Solar energy is rapidly expanding in popularity. Using photovoltaic panels, we can convert the sun’s energy into usable electricity and power our homes, businesses, and more. Read on to learn about some solar energy facts that may surprise you. As of today, the cost of building and installing new solar electricity generation dropped to $1.55 per watt, narrowly beating out its renewable counterpart wind ($1.56/Watt) and its fossil fuel competitors.

How Solar energy work? Solar energy is a vast, inexhaustible, and clean resource. Solar electricity generation is a great alternative to electricity from fossil fuels, with no pollution and no threats to public health. The energy we get from the sun is tremendous. 18 sunny days on our planet contain the same amount of energy as is stored in all fossil fuels combined. To convert that abundant energy into electricity solar power systems are an amazing option. These Photovoltaic systems (PV) are usually made up of several solar panels that are able to convert the energy into usable electricity. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are manufactured as a solid panel and completely sealed so there is almost no risk of hazardous exposure toxic materials.

Solar power can be used for heating up homes and other buildings. Sometimes solar power for heating can be passive. This is when there are no mechanical components used to move the heat around. Passive heating helps to keep houses warm in the winter, to heat up swimming pools, and even makes our car warm when we park it outside (which is nice in the winter, but not so much on a hot summer day).

However solar energy is not perfect. Solar power has two major drawbacks. One drawback is that the amount of sunshine in a specific place changes due to the time of day, the weather, and the time of the year. The other drawback is that with current technology it takes a lot of expensive photovoltaic cells to produce a decent amount of electricity.

Wind power sustainable renewable energy

Wind power or wind energy has come a long way from windmills in the Netherlands and other parts of the farming culture around the world for thousands of years. Turbines produce no particulate emissions that contribute to mercury contamination in our lakes and streams. Wind energy also conserves water resources. For example, producing the same amount of electricity can take about 600 times more water with nuclear power than wind, and about 500 times more water with coal than wind. Unlike other forms of electrical generation where fuel is shipped to a processing plant, wind energy generates electricity at the source of fuel, which is free. Wind is a native fuel that does not need to be mined or transported, taking two expensive costs out of long-term energy expenses.

Hydropower renewable sustainable energy

Hydropower contribute to 16% of energy generation in the world, and is the largest renewable energy source for electricity in the world, though wind energy is soon expected to take over the lead. Hydropower relies on water—typically fast-moving water in a large river or rapidly descending water from a high point—and converts the force of that water into electricity by spinning a generator’s turbine blades.

Hydropower renewable power has many advantages. Benefits of hydropower include flexible energy generation and storage, as well as reducing dependence on fossil fuels. Benefits to local communities include flood protection and water supply for domestic and commercial use, as well as opportunities for employment, education and recreation. Hydropower facilities also provide a boost to national economic growth through trade, transport and tourism.

Tidal Power as Green renewable sustainable energy

Tidal power as sustainable renewable green energy sources
Tidal energy

Tidal energy is generated by gravitational forces between the Sun, Moon, and the Earth. Tidal power is practically inexhaustible and considered a renewable energy source. Tides are caused by the combined gravitational forces of the moon, sun, and earth. However, tides are influenced most by the moon. The moon’s gravitational force is so strong that it tugs the ocean into bulge. The high and low tides create tidal currents, which are essential in generation of this kind of energy mostly prevalent in coastal areas. Tidal energy or tidal power is a form of renewable energy obtained due to alternating sea levels. The kinetic energy from the natural rise and fall of tides is harnessed and converted into electricity.

In a way, tidal power is a type of hydropower that harnesses the energy of our ocean’s tides or other flowing waterways to produce power, usually in the form of electricity.  Tidal energy generation plants are most commonly installed along coastlines although offshore plants are increasingly becoming popular. Coastlines are preferred because they receive 2 high tides and 2 low tides every single day. 

Geothermal power as Green sustainable energy

Geothermal energy, is another clean and sustainable source of power. Geothermal energy is nothing more than the internal heat that is contained in the rock and fluids beneath the earth’s crust. This constant heat from the Earth’s surface can be used for geothermal heat pump systems, similar to solar thermal power. The temperature at Earth’s core measures close to 7200 degrees Fahrenheit. As you might imagine, such a high temperature can produce extraordinary amounts of sustainable energy and untold gigawatts of electricity. Technically speaking, geothermal energy is regarded as a renewable source of energy that can produce energy for as long as our planet exists.

Avoid Excess environmental pollution

Another issue or opportunity with environmental sustainability is to avoid excessive environmental pollution. There are multiple kinds of pollutions including land pollution, air pollution, and water pollution, the opposite of these pollutions are land sustainability, air sustainability, water sustainability.

Avoiding Land pollution for environmental sustainability

Land pollution is the destruction and contamination of the land through the direct and indirect actions of humans. The pollution results in changes to the land, such as soil erosion. Some of the changes are irreversible, while others are not. Some ways to avoid pollution includes:

  • Proper waste disposal that focuses on treating waste and disposing of it in the safest manner possible.
  • Reusing materials to reduce the need for the harvesting of resources. Products that are not reusable can likely be recycled.
  • Reducing the usage of non-biodegradable materials, such as plastic shopping bags. The simple act of switching to a reusable cloth bag for groceries can help cut down on the need for non-biodegradable materials.
  • Organic gardening can reduce the usage of pesticides and insecticides. Non-gardeners can help by buying organic food.

Make Long term decisions (Generations, not years)

Leaders of government, countries, and administration needs to make long term decisions. we are not talking about 10, 20, nor 30 years plans. They will need to make generation plans. For example, burning coal gives a short-term benefit of cheaper energy, but the extra pollution imposes costs on future generations.

Protect Health of environmental ecosystems

Protecting the long-term productivity and health of resources to meet future economic and social needs, e.g. protecting food supplies, farmland and fishing stocks.

Renewable energy types include:

  • Solar power
  • Wind power
  • Hydropower
  • Tidal power
  • Geothermal power

Learn more from Environmental Sustainability – The Complete Guide.

Reasons for land pollution includes:

  1. Over Mining
  2. Landfills
  3. Human sewage
  4. industrialization
  5. agricultural
  6. Soil erosion
  7. deforestation

Learn more from Environmental Sustainability – The Complete Guide.

Here are some ideas to improve environmental sustainability:

  1. Shifting to renewable resources and energies
  2. Make Long term decisions (Generations, not years)
  3. Protect Health of environmental ecosystems
  4. Avoid Excess environmental pollution
  5. Prevent the consequences of man-made global warming

Learn more from Environmental Sustainability – The Complete Guide.

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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.