Editorial: November 2017

Sustainable Development, now and always, depends on everyone

Somewhere on a hiking path of the chapada diamantina (Bahia).(Credit photo: Denis JULIEN / RHIOS)

When the term development was presented as an ‘alternative’ to the term growth to signal economic indicators of a particular society, it was observed the insufficiency of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a parameter of analysis of the living conditions of a people. Thus, it was verified that the generated wealth measured by GDP in its aggregate form did not necessarily imply a balanced distribution that ensured minimum levels of income, health and education for the entire population.

As the years passed by, consolidating the differences between the terms, although still is eventually used as synonyms, joined the same sustainable expression, indicating that a balanced allocation of resources was no longer sufficient, making it necessary that the same occurring now, did not preclude the conditions for its occurrence also in future generations.

The term Sustainable Development also showed the need for greater attention to exhaustible and renewable natural resources. The first, because of their finite stock, require a more efficient use that can be provided by the technological advance and improvement in rationality use. The last one, in turn, are observed to with less attention, having the possibility of renewal as an argument that paradoxically undermines its management. In this context, oil and gas are more closely watched, to the detriment of water.

This distortion in attention is reflected not only in political and market decisions, but also in social, academic and cultural spheres of societies. Natural resources traditionally marketed and priced, long incorporated into the production process, were the object of study to develop methods, methodologies, techniques and technologies that would improve the efficiency of their use. Oil, gas, iron, steel, gold, diamond, vanadium, niobium, uranium, among many others, fall into this group. Air and water, in turn, in a different situation.

The alert related to renewable resources brought with it the mark of environmentalism, being its proponents and theorists initially stigmatized as defenders of plants and animals to the detriment of other human beings. The recurrence of distinct climatic events in various parts of the planet then presented itself as a questioning of these preconceptions and sustainability became the object of pricing.

Thus, methodologies for assessing the impact of environmental disasters/accidents/crimes and environmental valuation techniques and methods are developed apparently in line with environmental concerns. Faced with the labyrinthine process of diffusion and application of these, for different reasons that include political and economic factors, we can now see technological innovation as the possible lifeline. Paradoxically, it is no longer considered that technological innovations are elements of transformation that sometimes delay the necessary changes of paradigms.

From this mix that the complexity of sustainable development lies not only in a scientific knowledge of this or that area of knowledge. Its understanding and implementation permeates the altruism of future generations, while combining the various elements of the environment, understood in its broader concept, guided by human rationality and its various knowledge. An unbalanced or scientifically skewed commitment will certainly lead to further distortions. However, it is pointed out that in the case of air and water, what is in question is not good living but simple living.

Telma Teixeira.
RHIOS November 2017
(translation from portuguese by Leila FONTOURA)

Read other texts  by Telma Teixeira

Editorial: October 2017

Value, Price and Environment

Mangue – Ilha de Itaparica – 2015 (Foto: Karine Veiga / RHIOS)

In economics, the connections between value and price are often discussed. Despite the common use as a synonym, in a more technical context where the hermeneutics is configured as an element of relevance for the discussion, it seeks to identify many times the connections that convert subjective values into prices, objectives and measurable ones.

Contributing to this discussion and attempting to eliminate excess subjectivity to the value of the term, this is categorized for a better understanding of the monetization process. So it appears, the social value, the cultural value, and the economic value, among others. This last category reduces the subjectivity of value to the elements that can be appropriated by the productive process. In this sense, the cultural value of any region can be reduced the possibilities of exploration of it, through tourism. Continue lendo “Editorial: October 2017”

Editorial: September 2017

Another Spring

The Doce river (literally the “sweet river”) is a river in southeast Brazil with a length of 853 kilometres (530 mi). In 2015 the collapse of a dam released highly contaminated water by mining company SAMARCO into the river causing an ecological disaster (WikiPedia) . (Foto: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

In September 1962 Rachel Carson published the classic and revolutionary Silent Spring denouncing the indiscriminate use of pesticides and their effects on environment and humans. The classic adjective attributed to her work comes from the inevitable reference that is made  in studies related to impacts of human action on nature. In turn, the revolutionary character of the work stems from its fundamental role in banning the use of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT) and other pesticides, and in the beginning of the environmental movement and environmental protection institutions in the United States.

Carson’s seminal work was applauded as a thorough investigative report detailing the immediate and hereditary effects of pesticides. The difference in absorption rates and levels of accumulation between animal and plant species, provide the propagation of effects in the food chain and the possible genetic inheritance. These elements, richly pointed out by Carson, would be the cause of the extinction or death of several birds thus causing the spring silence. Continue lendo “Editorial: September 2017”

Editorial: August 2017

Economics. Environment. Senses and Contradictions

In the year 1951, on August 13, President Getúlio Vargas sanctioned Law 1,411, creating the profession of the Economist and since then on this date we also celebrate the Economist’s Day. The classical definition attributed to economic science describes as its object of study the alternative uses of scarce resources, observing historical, institutional, social, collective and individual phenomena and processes, concomitantly or not, in order to help in decisions process.

However, the theoretical foundations that support the economic studies date back much to that date, originating in a systematized form in the 18th century when Adam Smith, considered the father of economics, published his seminal work An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, popularly known as The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s work has given rise to innumerable discussions, mainly centered on elements such as income, social classes, production relations and distributive justice, among others, producing hypotheses, theories, proposals and ideologies that are different and in many cases divergent from one to another because of differentiated perception of realities and/or themes. Continue lendo “Editorial: August 2017”