The biggest benefit yielded from shale gas exploration is cited as economic stability.
From an economic development point of view this is really good news for the world.
However, from a sustainable development point of view (which integrates social, environment
AND economic considerations), shale gas extraction benefits must be weighed against concerns
of environmental & social sustainability.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

-Defined by the Brundtland Report

The generally accepted model for planning for a sustainable future includes balancing three
pillars: social, environment, and economic.

    SOCIAL refers to the capacity of a community to nurture all of it’s constituents
    (human rights, culture, peace, food, education)
    ENVIRONMENT refers to the ability for ecosystems to thrive
    (biodiversity, climate stability, clean water & air)
    ECONOMIC refers to the provisions of necessities & opportunities for living
    (employment, affordability, trade, resource accessibility).


  • A sustainable economy must ALSO be equitable (yielding to social concerns).
    If not, poverty, illiteracy, health disparities, and gender well-being gaps may grow, and this
    type of system is not sustainable for human development. It can lead to systemic inequalities
    based on gender-age-race-sexuality-religion, poor implementation of human rights, conflict
    (war), urban crowding, and overpopulation.

      Social concerns must equally yield to the economic by not overwhelming the market with social
      demands (overspending) and not stifling development with antiquated social norms (stereotypes,
      education and wage disparities).
  • A sustainable economy must ALSO be viable (yielding to environmental concerns).
    If not, extinction, water/air/land pollution, soil corrosion, and over extraction of natural
    resources can go unchecked. This is ultimately unsustainable and can lead to crop failures,
    water shortages, lack of natural defenses against flooding & drought, and spread of

      The environment forms the basis of our economic survival. While science &
      help us to draw from nature what we need, it is not realistic to expect
      nature to “yield” to economic demands.
  • Sustainable social communities must ALSO be bearable (yielding to the environment).
    If not, over population and/or overconsumption can put too many pressures on both the economy
    and the environment. Viewed from another angle, the loss of environment can hurt social
    communities by devastating cultures (loss of sacred spaces, changing traditional landscapes,
    loss of ceremonial elements and animals) as well as restricting traditional lifestyles (such
    as herding, sustenance fishing/hunting, wild food gathering, traditional medicine, etc).

      Science & technology can change the way we interact with an ever
      changing natural environment (calendars, art, weaponry, exploration)


No one facet of the three pillar model can take precedence over another, because
they are all interrelated and must be addressed together. As mentioned, the recent
ability and profitability of shale gas extraction promises to bolster the world economy, and if
equitable also promises to build up communities. Whether or not communities stand to
benefit, or rather which communities stand to benefit, are major concerns when it
comes to policy implementation and the upholding of human rights. Finally, the environmental
risks, benefits, and/or neutrality are hotly contested and understudied. More on that later.

SALES PITCH>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT (Our Common Future) (Sustainable Development) (UN) (Rio+20)

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT (UN Economic & Social Affairs) (World Bank Data)



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