Sustainable development refers to the type of development that meets the needs of the present generation without negatively affecting the ability of future generation to meet their own needs. Journalist Ronald Bailey states that sustainable development stagnates the economy thereby threatening the environment and the welfare of poor people across the world. The journalist contends that goals such as preservation and conservation of the environment, limiting economic growth, and eradication of poverty are all unattainable and incompatible. On the other hand, Jeremy Rifkin, that sustainable development practices will guarantee high quality of life for everyone even in the future. He asserts that the Europeans’ increased interest in diversity, sustainable development, individual rights, inclusivity, and diversity is the reason that they have higher quality of life when compared to Americans.
According to Rifkin, the reason Europe has leaped ahead of the U.S. is due to a high quality of life there created by sustainable development policies. Americans are too obsessed with individual success, while the Europeans advocate for collective well-being. Today, Europeans devote 26% of their GDP to social benefits while Americans can only achieve a measly 11% to their country’s social programs.
He also argues that Americans are obsessed with technological advances. The Europeans are more mindful about the dark side of technology, and thus there is more regulation on technology than in America. For instance, the European Union conducted lengthy reviews on the environmental impacts of introducing GE and GMO products into the marketplace. On the other hand, America passed laws enabling the widespread introduction of these products without enforcing any stringent laws on the production and distribution of said products (Eaton, 2010).
The EU has also introduced new measures to protect the welfare of their citizens. For instance, manufacturers have to prove that their products are safe before selling them to the market. In addition, the EU wants to become a renewable-based hydrogen economy by the middle of the century.
However, Ronald Bailey believes that the goals of sustainability are incompatible. He believes that the only way to improve the welfare of all people as well as improve the economy is through economic development. The government should focus on accelerating economic development rather than providing social benefits to its people. He is of the view that sustainable development translates to economic stagnation (Eaton, 2010).
Eaton, T.A. (2010). Taking sides: Clashing views on environmental issues. Boston, MA: Mc-Graw Hill.