Universal Eco-Symbol

All-Purpose Symbol for Environmental Awareness


Up to the second statistics on just about everything --

Energy Use
U.S. Debt Per Person
Forest Lost/Replanted/Remaining
Population Growth
Extinctions
Oil Reserves
Food Production
and lots more at:
Poodwaddle.com


Poodwaddle.com

Want to know how much you, your family or your business is contributing to the build up of greenhouse gasses?

Use the calculators on one of these Websites

Nature Conservancy

http://www.nature.org/initiatives/climatechange/calculator/

Climate Crisis
[the website of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth]
http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/carboncalculator/

U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html

Why does the challenge fall squarely on our generation?  Environmental degradation is unlike the temporary and localized damage caused by disease, wars and natural disasters. It is global and cumulative. For the first time since the last mass extinction (65 million years ago ending the reign of dinosaurs), and entirely as a result of normal human activity, the habitability of the world is rapidly decreasing. 

Every year the number of people living without adequate food and without potable water increases by millions and is accelerating. In the last 100 years, population more than tripled and is now (08/03) estimated at 6.3 billion. (For 99% of human history, world population was less than ˝ billion people.) In the same 100-year period, depletion of natural resources, species extinction, and the build up of toxic waste in the environment has increased more than ten-fold.  Without a global commitment to sustainability there will be an ever-diminishing supply of essential basic resources- food, water, and clean air.  Quite literally, we are rendering the planet uninhabitable for most of its inhabitants – including humans. 

Watch U.S. and world population numbers mount Population Clock See more about population on the Perspectives page


The problems grow larger the time window to fix them grow smaller every day. Knowledge of the problems, the technology to address them and the tools to inform and arouse the public have only become available in the past few years.  The burden (or more aptly, the opportunity) to redirect the world toward sustainability and away from self-destruction falls on very few. Less than ten percent of humanity has the freedom to make significant lifestyle choices and the power to affect public policy and influence other cultures.

Isn’t looking out for our children’s welfare the job of our political leaders or the United Nations? These institutions are focused on the here and now. They lack the mandate to put the needs of future generations of all people ahead of today’s voters or their home constituency. There is no world government and the Bush administration has effectively squashed all attempts to make the U.S. accountable to world opinion.

There are many models for living sustainably- agricultural, manufacturing, economic policy, architecture, community design, land use, commerce, renewable energy, commercial fishing, water quality and availability, etc. etc. There are hundreds of books, scholars, college courses and practitioners. Harder to find are models for creating a mindset that accepts and understands the urgent need for transforming the way people interact with nature.

 

With a mindset that is at one with the concept of sustainability there will be support for solutions no matter how radical they may be. Without the proper mindset, the public and their elected officials will continue living, as they always have, for the moment at the expense of the future.


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No country can support an indefinite increase either in its numbers of people or consumption of environmental resources, let alone both. Yet the policies of most governments assume they can.  -Dr. Norman Meyers, Oxford Univ. England, UK

 

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There are similarities between the problems underlying environmental degradation and those underlying the problems at Enron, WorldCom and Anderson. In both instances, there is an entrenched culture that, at one time was on balance, productive and has now become destructive to an extend that, if left unchanged, will undo all the good  that was accomplished.  It is not that there are merely bad practices; there are bad systems that incentivise abuse and self-destruction. We are beginning to see and address the corporate problems but we still see environmental problems as issues- some local, some temporary and some discretionary capable of being addressed with a patchwork of regulations.  Powerful oversight agencies for business are already in place. They need only to be restructured and refocused.

 

People generally understand and accept the need for reform. On the other hand, the oversight agencies for environmental protection are weak and the public is woefully ignorant of what needs to be done. The biggest difference is that when problems arise, economies and the people dependent on them recover in months or years.  Environmental problems are far more devastating and what recover may be possible could take generations.