Problems of maintaining economic growth

An examination of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in China revealed that toxic substances polluted 21 percent and that 16 percent of the rivers were seriously polluted with excrement. China has 16 of the world’s 20 most polluted cuties. The very process of controlling industrial wastes leads to another and perhaps equally critical issue: the disposal of hazardous waste, a by product of pollution controls. Estimates of hazardous wastes collected annually exceed 300 million tons: the critical issue is disposal that does not simply move the problem elsewhere. Countries encountering increasing difficulty in disposal of wastes at homes are seeking countries willing to assume the burden of disposal. Waste disposal in some developing countries as governments seek the revenues that are generated by offering sites for waste disposal. In other cases, illegal dumping is done clandestinely. A treaty among members of the Basel Convention that required prior approval before dumping could occur was later revised to a total ban on the export hazardous wastes by developed nations. The influence and leadership provided by this treaty are reflected in abroad awareness of pollution problems by business and people in general.

Government organizations and businesses are becoming increasingly concerned with the social responsibility and ethical issues surrounding the problem of maintaining economic growth while protecting the environment for future generations. The organization for Economic Cooperation and Development the United Nations, the European Union and International activists groups are undertaking programs to strengthen environmental policies. The issue that concerns all is whether economic development and protection for the environment can coexist. Sustainable development a joint approach among those (governments, businesses, environments and others) who seek economic growth with wise resources management equitable distribution of benefits and reduction of negative efforts on people and the environment from the process of economic growth is the concept that guides many governments and multinational companies today. Sustainable development is not about the environment or the economy or society. It is about striking a lasting balance between all of these. More and more companies are embracing the idea of sustainable development as a win-win opportunity, Responsibility for protecting the environment does not rest solely with governments, businesses, or activists groups, however; each citizen has a social and moral responsibility to included environmental protection among his or her highest goals.


The availability of minerals and the ability to generate energy are the foundations of modern technology. The locations of Earth’s resources as well as the available sources of energy are geographic accidents. The world’s nations are not equally endowed and no nation’s demand for a particular mineral or energy source necessarily coincides with domestic supply.

In much of the underdeveloped world, human labor provides the preponderance of energy. The principal supplements to human energy are animals, wood, fossil fuel, nuclear power, and, to a lesser and more experimental extent the ocean’s tides, geothermal power and the sun. Of all the energy sources, oil and gas contribute over 60 percent of world energy consumption. Because of petroleum’s versatility and the ease with it is stored and transported, petroleum related products continue to dominate energy usage.

Many countries that were self sufficient during much of their early economic growth have become net importers of petroleum during the past several decades and continue to become increasingly dependent on foreign sources. A spectacular example is the US which has almost completely self sufficient until 1942, became a major importer by 1950, and between 1973 and 2000 increased its dependency from 36 percent to over 66 percent of its annual requirements. If present rates of consumption continue, predictions are that by the mid 2000s the US will be importing more than 70 percent of its needs that is more than 17 million barrels of oil each day. It is interesting to note that although North America is currently a major consumer of energy industrializing areas do not, lag far behind. In fact, China has become the world’s second largest oil importer after the US and demand continues to grow rapidly.

Since World War II concern for the limitless availability of seemingly inexhaustible supplies of petroleum has become a prominent factor. The dramatic increase in economic growth in the industrialized world and the push for industrialization in the remaining world has put tremendous pressure on earth’s energy resources. Unfortunately, as countries industrialize energy sources are not always efficiently utilized. China, for example spends three times the world average on energy (all sources) to produce one dollar of gross national product (GNPO). In comparison with Japan, possibly the world’s most efficient user of energy, less than 5 ounces of oil is needed to generate $ 1 in GNP whereas in China approximately 80 ounces of oil is needed. The reasons for China’s inefficient oil use are numerous but the worst culprit is outdated technology.

The growth of market driven economies and an increasing reliance on petroleum supplies from areas of political in stability – the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, and Latin America create a global interdependence of energy resources. The net result is a profound impact on oil prices and on the economies of the industrializing countries.

The location quality and availability of resources will affect the pattern of world economic development and trade well into 21st century. In addition to the raw materials of industrialization an economically feasible energy supply must be available to transform resources into usable products. As the global demand for resources intensifies and prices rise, resources will continue to increase in importance among the uncontrollable elements of the international marketer’s decisions.