I’m pretty certain that we aren’t really as concerned as we make ourselves out to be when it comes to protecting the environment.
And, I think a lot of that indifference comes from the fact that often times we look to the government or nonprofit agencies to solve the pollution problems we see around our communities.
We also do not believe that our contribution to the problem is all that significant, nor is our involvement in a solution. The costs of both come at a price we are not able or willing to pay, either because it’s a hardship or presents insurmountable time commitment problems.
For beginners, when you have a large corporation with seemingly unlimited sums of money financing the election of local, state and federal officials, trying to influence those same officials with private citizen lobbying efforts is frustratingly difficult. And those same officials supported by corporations install like-minded appointees to regulatory agencies that vote in lock-step with corporations, while supposedly charged with regulating their behavior. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is a prime example of this scenario as local residents have discovered in New Jersey, as they fight to prevent unneeded gas transmission pipes from being installed under the roads of their communities or through previously protected environmentally sensitive areas of the state. On top of all that, these folks with the deep pockets very well may inflict on ratepayers the costs of those pipelines that are being used to transport the gas to shoreline facilities for shipment overseas. The corporation cash registers win, while local rate payers lose along with the pristine areas the energy companies destroy in the process.
As a nation, we’ve spent the last century building a transportation infrastructure geared towards our love affair with pickup trucks and cars, that years ago were identified with being a major contributor to air pollution, and recently blamed for the increase in global warming. At the same time, we paid scant attention to creating a mass transit system designed to reduce vehicle use and emissions, and continue to build commercial and residential developments that are not within easy reach of public transportation. And even in the cases where they are near public transit, rapid is the last adjective that you’d use to describe them, and reliability is a dream at best.
In spite of the obstacles this and other environmental issues present to all of us, we have something to gain by our involvement, and everything to lose if we don’t. Unfortunately, given society’s aversion to being proactive, and reactive being the best word to describe our approach to problems, it appears that it will take a catastrophic event to wake us up. Chances are it might wake us up just in time for it to kill us!