by Ben Heron
So, in what way is the lifestyle of the West unsustainable and
how is it endangering the livelihoods of future generations? The
answer is simple - Materialism and consumption in the West,
in particular, is depleting the planet of its vital resources
faster than they can be renewed.
The world's forests are being cut down, the air, land and sea
are being polluted by large-scale industries and many species
are threatened with extinction because of mankind's unsustainable
activities. As Gandhi said, "there's enough on earth for
everyone's need but not for everyone's greed".
I will illustrate this with an important example; one of the
major resource problems is man's increasing dependence on oil.
It is now a known fact that the world's known oil reserves, which
took millions of years to develop, will be used up in approximately
40 years time. In the year 2000 there were protests in several
European countries about the high prices of petrol, which resulted
in a widespread blockade of the countries' oil refineries. In
England, within three days of the oil blockades all the petrol
stations ran out of fuel; many schools, hospitals and emergency
services were forced to shut down, the shops ran out of food,
businesses went bankrupt and the country turned into chaos. So,
unless major changes are made to the lifestyles of people in oil-consuming
societies, what will happen to them in 40 years time when the
oil runs out?
Tourism itself cannot be a sustainable industry if it continues
to rely on oil to fly tourists to their destinations. Once the
oil reserves start to run low, unless renewable energy is used
to provide aeroplanes with fuel, the number of global tourists
visiting the less developed world will drop rapidly. But regardless
of what will happen in forty or fifty years time, the tourist
industry is expected to grow much, much larger during the next
couple of decades. It is therefore vital that both the local people
and the tourists are made aware of the problems tourism can create
and that they know how to prevent the problems from happening.