Blog Action Day 2007 – The Environment

15 10 2007

Today is apparently Blog Action Day for 2007.  It’s a day where the power of the blogosphere is to be turned to one agenda.  Everyone is supposed to write about one topic, with their own slants, their own biases – but still to write on that one topic.  It’s an interesting proposition, and I’m going to be wandering around checking all the different sites that are linked to see the viewpoints of everyone else.

 This year’s topic is the environment, the hot topic of 2007.  Everyone seems to be talking more and more everyday about the environment.  I don’t know if it’s the Al Gore effect, or if this is a sincere shift in focus for everyone involved, but it is what it is, so here we go.

The environment is one of those really odd things that no one seems to understand.  Have the human race done everything they possibly can to screw up the environment?  Sure.  Has it reached the point where it’s screwed up to the point that it can’t be fixed?  Possibly, but then you read a story about how the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking, and you realize just how much we don’t know about the earth and it’s recuperative powers.

But does that mean that we’re powerless to help?  Not at all – but we need to push our legislative bodies to get involved because if it’s up to the average joe human, nothing’s going to get done because it can be more expensive to do the right thing.  Here are just a few ways that we can help to make the earth a better place overall.

  1. Require our automakers to produce economically viable “clean” vehicles.  The current slate of hybrids and/or clean cars cost significantly more than those that are the typical gas hogs, and the ones that do exist are not viable for more families as there is little room for storage for trips, or even for a family of four.  And no, I do not consider an SUV that gets 24mpg vs 18 mpg to be a greener alternative.  In the early 1990s, I was driving a Mazda 323 sedan that averaged 40-50 mpg on the highway – why has the capacity of the cars gone so far down since then?  My next car averages 32-38, but even that is more efficient than what we can get today – why?  Why is gas mileage going down instead of up?  Don’t tell me it’s the SUV factor because even the smaller sedans aren’t getting it.  Nowadays, the only cars that get close to the gas mileage I had in 1993-95 are the hybrids – and from what I’ve read, the advertised averages are not close to the realistic ones and the results are more pedestrian.
  2. Increase the availability and affordability of mass transit.  With the trend of moving away from the cities becoming even more rampant, the amount of traffic (number on cause of pollution) is going through the roof.  Traffic congestion, road rage, noise pollution – all of these are symptoms of too many drivers for the roads.  So why is mass transportation failing in so many cities?  Where are the light rails running in and out of each city?  Where are the eco-friendly buses which I’ve seen prototyped throughout the area, but have never gone live?
  3. Stop urban sprawl.  This is the one that bothers me the most.  Even with the housing market crashing as bad as it is, I’m still seening signs everywhere for new housing builds.  What was lush farmland has become barren ground as they’ve made new houses which are bigger and more ridiculous every day.  This adds more traffic to roads which aren’t built to handle it, and less green space which the earth can use to regenerate itself.  Encourage revitalization of the towns and cities.  Make it more economical to renovate than to build anew.  Do something to stop the sprawl.  This will result in less traffic, less loss of open space and more community spirit as once thriving areas start to thrive again.
  4. Pick up after yourselves.  Yes, I know this isn’t something we can encourage our legistlature to get involved in, but it’s amazing to me how lazy people get when it comes to their own trash.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been hiking on a nature trail and had to stop to pick up the trash someone else has left behind.  Candy bar wrappers, chip bags, empty soda cans and bottles, all that could be carried a few extra minutes until a waste receptacle can be found.  The boy scouts have a “zero footprint” policy for camping – it’s a nice thought I wish more people would undertake.