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What are the Different Types of Sustainability Issues?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 23 August 2016
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There are a number of sustainability issues that prevent mass changes of behavior. To begin with, many people simply are not convinced there is a need for change. Other people view change with skepticism because the new methods are not proven, yet they require a great deal of financial investment. Furthermore, governments could serve as models in the movement toward sustainability, but many lack the commitment to do so.

One of the major sustainability issues is getting mass support. People generally do not like to change simply for the sake of doing things a different way. It is often necessary, therefore, to provide a reason to shift to sustainable methods. Attempts to do this are often hindered by conflicting information. While some people are emphasizing the dire need for change, many others are arguing that sustainable solutions are being developed for problems that are overstated or non-existent.

Another reason mass support is difficult to obtain is because sustainability often focuses on problems that have not occurred yet. It is generally more difficult to get people to take preventive measures than it is to get them to act on solving a current problem. That many of the concerns raised by promoters of sustainable methods address problems that will occur in the distant future only aggravates the difficulty.

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Even when there is adequate support, the expense involved with shifting to different methods of living, working, and entertaining raises many sustainability issues. Many of the sustainable solutions require large scale changes. For example, if a whole community was required to change to a new sustainable heating method, every level of society would be affected. This includes the individual who has to buy new heating equipment, the energy company that has to invest in new production and delivery infrastructure, and the government that must also invest and regulate the new industry.

Another of the sustainability issues is the newness and lack of related technology. For people to change their methods of living, they need alternatives. In many instances, the alternatives are subjects of debate. There is little, if any, basis to believe that a given solution will work or will be as good as the previous method, and many people are not willing to take the risk. Furthermore, certain problems may be recognized but there is often no technology to support a sustainable solution.

Lack of governmental commitment also presents sustainability issues. There are numerous conferences and summits held where government leaders acknowledge problems and agree upon certain proposed solutions. After those events, however, the agreements are not implemented so no real changes are made.

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