Lahore School of Economics

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The application of scientific method to interpret social phenomena dates back to the march of first man on our planet when his mind became functional for its rational application. More conspicuous manifestation in the historical records is encountered in philosophies from Greek’s to current in twenty-first century. The main theme of discussion has been the interpretation of the relationship between individual, society and the state with special reference to sociology, politics and economics in terms of scientific theories and physical laws of nature. There are many socio-economic phenomena in the current era that offer a scope of their interpretation in terms of natural theories and laws. An attempt can be made to interpret concept of “Sustainable Development” in the light of some physical laws of nature. The concept can be assigned a scientific basis in the light of some important concepts framed and fortified for natural and biological sciences. The oldest one is the Law of Conservation of Mass that stated that total amount of mass in the universe remains constant although it may change its one form into another. Another law that followed the law of conservation of mass was the Law of Conservation of Energy, which is also known as First Law of Thermodynamics. It states that the total amount of energy in the universe remains constant although it may change its one form to another. Thus, when we burn a carbon based fuel, which is matter in the reduced state, the potential energy of its chemical bonds is transformed into the heat energy. This also leads to the fact that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Even this concept did undergo a change after the nuclear fission that demonstrated that matter can be destroyed by the destruction of mass. The concept concluded with the statement that sum of mass and energy in the universe remains constant. The experts of sustainable development are now saying that there is nothing in nature that can be called waste as nature is capable of efficient recycling of materials within its ecological systems. In their opinion, people call these materials wastes as they have not been able to develop systems humanly or industrially to utilize them to the natural level of efficiency. This thinking has led to the concept that the resources can be conserved if processed in a sustainable manner. The time is not very far that another law may be displayed on the screen of twenty first century stating that “The total amount of resources in the universe remains constant although they may change form from one to another”. This statement may be floated at the hypothetical level for testing its validity for its acceptance as a law.
Prof. DR. Mohammad Rafiq Khan, Senior Research Fellow, Lahore School

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/13/2006 11:10:00 AM,

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