Caring for the Earth represents current middle‐of‐the‐road thinking on the relationship between conservation and development. This IUCN/UNEP/WWF document has embraced a purely utilitarian perspective: it considers the conservation and development of natural resources to be the same process. In this analysis, I argue that the goal of creating the sustainable society, as defined in Caring for the Earth, is an unattainable utopia, and that the mechanisms proposed to attain this goal will lead irrevocably to the loss of biological diversity. I consider the history of the concept of sustainable development, and then document the constraints on sustainable use of natural resources. Sustainable use only occurs when both human needs are met and the losses of biodiversity and environmental degradation are acceptable. These conditions are not always met when natural resources are used, and I consider the fundamental contradictions between resource potential and human needs. I conclude by emphasizing that while sustainable use is a powerful approach to conservation, it is not the only one, and the conservation of many species and biological communities also requires a preservationist approach.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Mar 1, 1993
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