It is not the fact that problems emerge that is important, rather it is the fact that the emergence of many of these problems is irreversible. The remedies that can be applied are not capable of restoring the system to its earlier condition. Whether or not the further development of the problem can be contained, damage has been done and that damage may often prove to be very severe.
Policy options in favour of unsustainable short-term benefit at the expense of long-term economic and environmental sustainability lead to irreversible environmental consequences, which not only constrain future growth and social well-being, but would require major investment to restore degraded national resources and prevent further deterioration. Environmental degradation provides many examples: tropical deforestation, extinction of species, desertification, soil erosion, depletion of non-renewable natural resources.