I believe that there is no one solution to solving the world’s water problems. It will take people from all walks of life working together to make sure that everyone has clean water to drink and meet their needs with. Policy makers should follow one basic rule when making decisions on water policy; they need to always make decisions based on the human and environmental need for water, not the economic need. I think that laws should definitely be passed to enforce more sustainable farming practices. There are some simple things that farmers can do to make their operation more sustainable and water efficient. This includes drip irrigation and strategically planting crops that are not water intensive. I think that being more sustainable is a logical and economically sound decision for farmers to make. Should farmers make this decision on their own, the government should enforce stricter sustainable farming regulations. Farmers are not the only people that can reduce their water consumption. We, as consumers and citizens can easily reduce our impact on the water supply. Homeowners can take responsibility for their front yards by planting native, Florida-friendly landscaping instead of water intensive grasses. Furthermore, we can limit our consumption of water-intensive food. For instance, corn and beef require copious amounts of water to produce. By avoiding these foods, one would decrease the demand for them and decrease their personal water footprint. New technology can also help ease the pain of water shortages in developing countries. For example, the invention of a no flush toilet would help solve the sanitation as well as water shortage issues in developing countries.
I believe that the empowerment of women throughout the world is a key factor in solving many of the world’s problems, including in part the environmental problems that we face. When women are empowered and educated, statistically, they have fewer children. I believe that this is because they have less time to be in the home and taking care of the children, therefore they tend to have fewer children. This is, in most cases a voluntary decision to be made by the woman and the person that she is having children with. I believe that women should have access to contraception and birth control. I do not believe that it is in any way ethical to have a government enforced rule that people can only have a certain number children, such as China’s one child policy.
Governments can help empower women by educating them on birth control methods and making these contraception options easily available to the population at large. If women are more educated, they will have the tools that are needed to get better jobs. By spending more time in the work place and improving their professional lives, women tend to have fewer children. I believe that lowering birthrates in more developed countries are a result of a multitude of things. Women are becoming more empowered and involved in the workplace and therefore have less time to have more children. Also, as the standard of living increases in countries, families do not need to have as many children. In developing countries, many families need to have more children for the reason of having more labor to help with the workload that is required for the family to sustain itself. As the society ‘advances’ and is more industrialized, less manual labor is generally needed and therefore, families do not need to have as many children to sustain this labor.
Peter Wentz brings up an incredibly important issue in the environmental world, environmental justice. He frames the issue of environmental justice in environmental racism, the idea that the consequences of environmental degradation are focused on minority communities. I believe that environmental degradation is not focused on minorities but instead on people that are of lower socioeconomic standing. The people who live in more polluted areas generally cannot afford to move to environmentally cleaner areas and remain in the polluted environment. Furthermore, when companies are attempting to make the largest profit that they can, they will allocate waste to the communities that do not have the resources to fight the pollution that is being poured in by these large corporations.
Moreover, I believe that it is incredibly unethical for the United States and other developed countries to export their waste to the poorer countries in the Global South. The countries in the Global North that create the waste through consumption and irresponsible environmental practices need to take responsibility for the problem that they have created. In my opinion, it should be against international law for countries in the Global North to pay less developed countries to take their waste. A part of a true environmental ethic is acknowledging and taking responsibility for the environmental degradation that one causes. By keeping waste within the borders of the country that the waste is created, the creators of the waste then can see the damage that is being done by the waste and avoid a huge injustice by not paying poorer countries to take the waste.
Climate deniers are everywhere. From the marble halls of Capitol Hill to the radio waves (…Rush Limbaugh) they hold powerful positions in politics and the media. Many believe that environmentalism is a value that is exclusive to the liberal left wing. Many politicians do not take environmentalists’ case for climate action seriously because they are concerned with the partisan repercussions of such actions. Many climate deniers argue that increased environmental regulation to improve air and water conditions will lead to slowed economic growth. In the Ayn Rand Institute piece, this argument is hi-lighted. Therefore, they choose to deny the scientific evidence supporting the argument that climate change is real and, at the very least, influenced by mankind.
In recent history, environmental issues have been championed by the Democratic Party and rejected from the Republican platform time and time again on the basis that it would lead to increased government control over industry. When hurricanes strengthen over warmer waters, they will not discriminate between Democrats and Republicans once they reach the coast. Do you think that these concerns of increased environmental regulations reducing job creation and inhibiting economic growth in the U.S. are legitimate? Must we choose between the environment and the economy or can these entities have a symbiotic relationship? Furthermore, what do you think caused the extreme partisanship on a scientific issue?
This prompt implies that environmental groups no longer support President Obama. From my experience at the Sierra Club as an intern this summer, environmental groups have continued to support the president; although they do not always agree with all of his environmental policies. Progress with any major social movement is slow and requires copious amounts of patience, passion and persistence. Environmental groups agree that not enough is being done; but they still continue to support the President in the environmental endeavors that he does partake in.
Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, President Obama has made it very clear that he will not approve the KXL pipeline, should building it generate more greenhouse gasses than if it was not built. He will base his decision on the State Department’s environmental review of the pipeline. In the meantime, the President has already made progress in addressing climate disruption. He has had the solar panels that were removed from the White House during the Regan administration reinstalled. President Obama also charged the Department of the Interior with the task of permitting 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands by the end of 2012. The DOI surpassed this goal and President Obama set the bar even higher, establishing a goal of 10 additional gigawatts by 2020. Overall, the Obama administration has made significant strides to address environmental issues, given the uncooperative Congress and harsh public that they must cooperate with.
I believe that an institutional overhaul is completely inappropriate to address environmental issues. We live in a country that allows for ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference within the established system of government. While success in environmental reform is important, it is, in my opinion, just as important to respectful to the institutions and values that the United States was built upon. If there are people in the U.S. who won’t even accept the science of climate disruption, how can we expect them to embrace a brand new, ecocentric regime?
More info on the current state of the Keystone XL Pipeline:
- Keystone XL Oil Pipeline 5th environmental study complete (nebraskaradionetwork.com)
- Keystone XL’s Climate Impact Would Be Enormous, According to Enviros (huffingtonpost.com)
- Sierra Club Report Claims Keystone XL Pipeline Fails Obama’s Climate Test (stateimpact.npr.org)