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Trends in Resource Extraction and Implications for Sustainability in Canada

Mariam, Yohannes (1999): Trends in Resource Extraction and Implications for Sustainability in Canada.


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There is a disagreement on the concept, definition and application of the paradigm of sustainable development. The definition that has been accepted by many involves several components, and it is difficult to measure or quantify indicators. Depending on the structure of the economy, it is possible to identify important variables and examine some aspects of sustainability. In this respect, analysis of indicators related to the extraction of natural resources seems to be appropriate for a resource-based economy. For resource-based economy such as Canada is the speed with which natural resources are extracted greatly influence patterns of growth and development. Indicators can be established to measure the progress toward to or demise of sustainability. Indicators that deal with the speed with which resources such as non-renewable energy, minerals, forests, soil, water, etc., have been utilized to examine aspects of sustainability. However, these indicators have been argued to provide less guidance for the implementation of feasible public policies unless supplemented by other kinds of analyses that relate resource use with socioeconomic parameters. The utilization of resources could be evaluated in relation to available stock as a proxy for progress toward sustainability. The extraction of resources may also cause major environmental problems due to the release of pollutants or wastes that requires an increasing amount of expenditure for environmnetal protection. This is crucial for countries such as Canada whose major export is dependent on availability of natural resources and heavily impacted by external public debt. The present study will examine stock, depletion and addition of natural resources to evaluate sustainability of consumption patterns. In addition, the consumption of these resources will be compared with selected socioeconomic indicators such as GDP, employment, etc., to anticipate whether or not these factors may have contributed to increased consumption of natural resources. Furthermore, attempts will be made to investigate the patterns of expenditure to protect the environment from wastes and pollutants. The findings of this study could serve as an early warning system with respect to depletion of resources and their consequent environmental impacts.

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