According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the term “sustainability” has emerged as a result of significant concerns about the unintended social, environmental, and economic consequences of rapid growth. Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Therefore, sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in harmony, fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.
WHEW! Think about it! Sustainability is important to making sure that we have, and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect our health and our environment.
Think about it! Water, for instance. Though we might see water as an abundant resource in Florida, water is emerging as a sustainability issue sparking debate and illustrating the differences in opinions of various water users in Florida. Consider these facts:
- Heavy demand: High levels of commercial, real estate, and agricultural development have caused withdrawals to increase over time, putting pressure on natural resources.
- Changes in water use: Agricultural production and public supply are the largest users of freshwater resources in Florida. Large demands occur in municipal water supply systems as a result of landscape irrigation of lawns and golf courses.
- Environmental consequences: Depletion of groundwater resources can have negative environmental consequences, such as saltwater intrusion into freshwater resources and sinkhole development.
- Water use strategies: Strategies to balance water use include reducing the overall demand for water (through such means as increased water prices or restrictions) or increasing the supply of water (through such means as desalination of seawater).
- Water quality: Recent EPA nutrient requirements designed to protect water quality.
Just think about it! Just like there are many levels of sustainability, each and every one of us can draw from advances in science and technology to protect not only our health but the environment.
Just think about it! And then take action. The EPA website has data specific to your area of interest. Information on air, water, land, community, health, and energy can be visualized on a map, downloaded, and printed.
Think about it! Individuals can make a difference! A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Each of us can promote practices to strengthen our natural environment and quality of life, ultimately improving the quality of life for everyone.