These days, it sometimes seems as though “environment” = “global warming” as if human-released carbon in the atmosphere were the only issue we needed to worry about. So, we buy some carbon-offsets for our cars, airplane trips, home heating and cooling and we’ve done our part, right?
What happened to the other environmental issues – like air and water quality, biodiversity, land and habitat conservation, and environmental justice? To be sure, as global temperatures rise, some of these factors become exacerbated, and potentially overshadowed. But does that mean we should quit worrying about them or trying to reduce our impact on them?
I think not. And, I’d like to see the conversation on the environment broadened to include them again. For one thing, the public has a short attention span and while “global warming” is “hot” right now, it might not be so interesting next year. The changes caused by increased carbon in the atmosphere will occur over time and not in one disastrous spasm. For another thing, there are a lot of actions that people can take individually and in groups that can improve air and water quality and reduce habitat destruction that may or may not simultaneously reduce their carbon footprint. In our rush to buy carbon credits, let’s not forget that washing your car on your driveway with chemical-laden soaps pollutes the stream that runs through your neighborhood. Or that growing grass that needs to be watered daily in summer is wasteful of precious water resources.\
I feel that the times are a-changing, but there is still a lot that needs to be changed, in our consciousness, in our behavior, and in our policies.