Economic development has had an increasingly detrimental effect on the environment.
The current level of environmental impact by humans has been unprecedented for a single
species in the history of the earth. In recent years there has been an increased realisation
of the detrimental impact of our actions. Along with this realisation there has been an
improvement in the understanding of the fundamental importance of the environment to
the human society.
The aim of this thesis is to examine the possibility of sustainable development, a concept
which has arisen out of this increased awareness of the dynamic interconnectedness of the
environment and development. A more environmentally destmctive development path
will reduce the quality of the environment not just for today but in the future. This thesis
will endeavoux to show that, if we are to achieve sustainability, we need to change our
attitude towards the environment.
To do this I will look at two broad perspectives of what is meant by sustainable
development: technocentric and ecocentric (O'Riordan 1981: 1 ). Their primary difference
is in their attitude towards the environment. This thesis will highlight the technocentric
perspective as it has become the dominant development throughout the globe. It will
primarily focus on critiquing technocentrism, demonstrating how this approach has
resulted in widespread environmental degredation. In looking at the technocentric and
ecocentric perspectives I shall attempt to show the significant role that knowledge
systems can have in shaping the attitudes of a society.