Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Unsure ...

Lately I have been doing research on global climate change, peak oil predictions and a variety of other environmental issues.

I just don't understand. People complain about governments putting out a call to the people of America to volunteer their time and encouraging civic engagement, and people complain about "large government" requiring green building practices. Why? Who can we possibly be hurting by conserving energy, planting trees and promoting open spaces? What is wrong with encouraging each other to volunteer our time to accomplish these things and more?

I fully agree that certain policies are flawed and that there are things being done that probably aren't entirely necessary and certainly not cost-effective. (LEED certification for one) However, I also feel that anything that reduces our impact on this planet and uses less of what the Earth gives us is a positive change. Resources are finite, populations are increasing, as are disasters that make it more and more difficult to come by things like food, water and even oil. The world does have a history of climate change, so I am not convinced that we can control the droughts and hurricanes or that we are wholly responsible for them, but I do believe that we currently have a greater impact on the Earth than we should.

Oil is a finite resource. That is a fact. Asthma rates in the world are up. That is a documented fact and it is widely accepted that this is in great part due to pollution. Pollution is caused by man. Therefore our impact is causing higher rates of childhood asthma and whatever other illnesses have been linked to pollution. (I haven't done the research to know exactly what those are or how reliable the studies are that link things such as truck emissions to learning disorders.)

Plus, pollution is just nasty. How many of you have ever avoided swimming in a river or ocean due to the level of trash or knowing that something was recently dumped into it? (Anyone in Jacksonville knows exactly what river I'm talking about...)

How is having our government regulate our industrial/commercial environmental impact a negative? We have proven that we will not spend the money or make the effort to do so without the regulations, or it would already be done.

I am as guilty as the next person of not doing everything I could to "save the planet." Honestly, I will probably never be one of those people that goes to any sort of extreme or puts myself in discomfort to do my part... but I do try to do the little things that I believe add up if we all do it. I will probably never compost, but I go out of my way to make sure my plastic bottles end up in a recycle bin rather than a trash can. I refuse plastic bags 90% of the time now and those that I do take I am sure to reuse at least once. If nothing else, I figure we will have more usable land that is not being taken up by plastic bags and bottles. We all need to reduce how much we use and how much we waste. I don't see the point in arguing that...

Take this rant how you will. I'm not a die hard hippie or a crazy environmental activist. (though I guess I'm turning into an activist). I welcome dissenting opinions and opposing research if you have any - and if you agree let me know. I'm curious what people I know think. There was a report released recently that claims that the environment is the 2nd most popular voting issue for those of us under 29. Since it is not something that generally comes up in conversation with my peers, I doubt its validity, but maybe I'm wrong?