Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education

2019 Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho

Global Environmental Change and Sustainable Development

  • Greg BothunEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11352-0_469


Global environmental change and the need for sustainable development require investment in infrastructure by many countries to improve their resiliency to volatile weather events (mostly large-scale flooding) while still having remaining resources to plan and implement sustainable development. The difficulty of this situation is illuminated by identifying the 50 poorest countries, in terms of GDP per capita compared to the USA, and identifying various challenges. These challenges represent the adaptation deficit faced by many countries. In addition, the data case is easily made that global climate change is primarily driven by our escalating consumption and the total embodied energy it takes to maintain this trajectory. This embodied energy directly manifests as documented increases in ocean heat content which is changing the very nature of the Earth system. This dominance of the Earth system needs to be replaced through the conceptual framework of “just sustainability.” This framework facilitates a change in global value system away from the primary concern of increasing prosperity through economic gain and toward prioritizing global justice and environmental health. This shift in value system may automatically yield sustainable development. This kind of transformation is needed if we are to prove ourselves as trustworthy guardians of nature and her resources for the well-being of future generations.


Climate change Greenhouse gases Global consumption Adaptation deficit Sustainable development 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of OregonEugeneUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório de Andrade Guerra
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Sustainable Development (Greens)Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina (Unisul)FlorianópolisBrazil