It seems that the major topics that make up the discussions of today are the Russian scandal, congress, North Korea, the President, race and global climate change. We need to remember that the environment is arguably one of the most important challenges we face in our country. We must return our focus to the subject.
Here’s my thoughts on just a few important topics:
Compromise of our natural resources including our forests, deserts, mountains, waterways and wildlife need ongoing attention including the enforcement of laws meant to protect the integrity of them. Hazardous waste, natural events and even litter should be at the top of the list. Business development without controls can cause lasting damage. We need to evaluate the regulations repealed through legislation and executive order such as the unified agenda which has repealed many important regulations. Basically a majority of these regulations were imposed by the Obama administration so it appears the repeals were more political than anything else.
An environmental impact study prior to any development is still very important and reflects the evaluation of a company’s impact on areas of our environment specific to their projects.
If you want to build a housing sub division, issues such as the removal of trees, erosion, dranage and consideration of the concerns of the community need to be addressed before any permit is issued or commencement of work is allowed to happen. Activities related to logging, mining, oil exploration, farming, just to name a few need to be subject to strict controls in order to protect the integrity of the land and our environment.
As an example, some businesses such as farming make their living by carefully working the land and maintaining healthy soils. A corn farmer for instance, may plant corn one year then turn the soil and plant oats the next year in order to keep their soil healthy for their crops to grow. On the opposite side of agriculture, large livestock operations can have a very negative impact on the environment. Things such as ground water contamination, air pollution, methane emission and degredation will cause an eminent long term crisis if not brought under control.
Most of us have seen the Discovery channel show called Gold Rush. What you may not know is that their method of mining can cause lasting damage to the earth. As a result, these companies are required by law to return the land to the condition it was before mining was being done. There are images on Google that show how beautiful land restoration can be.
In some states, in order to get a permit to build, developers must have a plan to deal with changes in drainage that can cause irreversible erosion of their land. Also some are required to plant a new tree elsewhere for every tree they cut down before they clear the property for building.
In the US, all businesses that use hazardous materials for production must have a plan to safely dispose of the spent materials.
Not so surprisingly, litter and solid waste are a major problem. Our landfills are filled with dangerous materials that are not disposed of properly so they are mixed in with normal solid waste garbage that is being folded into the ground forever.
Oil companies which do not always face the same regulations as other industries will set up huge exploration and drilling operations that cause major ireversable damage to our environment. The current administration turns a blind eye citing the job opportunities that removal of many regulations will bring. The truth is that this argument for all of the repeals benefits the business and rarely the majority of working Americans.
Air pollution by many causes can have a serious negative effect on more than the air we breath. As an example, when you are in a large city such as Las Vegas, look at the sky over Henderson next door. You will see a haze that is air pollution caused by man. This type of pollution can cause problems with vegetation, water and obviously our ability to breath healthy air.
Our waterways have been subjected to some significant abuses by businesses in this country. Illegal dumping, catastrophic oil contamination and general polluting are important factors. If you need examples of a disgusting result of water pollution look at China, look at the oil contaminated rivers in Canada.
The truth is that almost all of us understand how important our environment is to our health and quality of life. A majority of our businesses do as well. The reason we need strict regulations and controls is to protect us from those who don’t demonstrate responsibility for their actions.
All too often, shortcuts and illegal activities by some business in order to maximize their profitablility have left the rest of us tasked with having to clean up after them. I don’t understand how any business who operates with a risk of any kind of contamination can not include the mitigation costs in their business plans. This is where significant regulations come in to play. Since the late 70’s our country has spent billions in resources to clean up messes through programs like the “superfund” program as well as programs that allow for fairly safe disposal of waste. To defund and repeal regulations of these programs will void some of the progress our country has made which is probably not in the best interest of our country.
Anyhow, my point is that while we are focusing on Climate Change, we need to at least continue the conversations that will address the specific problem areas that are of immediate concern in our country. Conversely, these issues also have a direct effect on global warming.