Saturday, October 17, 2009

Angela Ober's view of the future

Future Development and Sustainability
PHS 100: Online Environmental Studies
Professor D. Terrell
Warner Pacific College
October 8, 2009
Future Development and Sustainability During this five-week course on environmental studies I have been challenged in many ways to think about human interactions with earth and its surroundings, and the positive and negative imprints we have left throughout history. If the purpose of this course was to increase environmental awareness in the average student, it has gone above and beyond just doing that for me. But before I dive into how it has impacted and influenced my life I want to talk a little bit about the future of our earth that we dwell in. For the next few paragraphs I am going to focus on the future of our environment, and address different conservation and sustainability methods that might be put to good use in years to come. Ultimately, we will be facing many changes in the next few years if we hope to become a sustainable society that is focused on leaving resources and life for future generations. At the rate we are going we face depletion and shortage concerns, which is precisely the reason why we should promote life on earth, rather than death. Following my discussion of preservation and conservation I will share more on how this class has impacted my life and my hopes for future sustenance in my own personal habits. I will briefly discuss how these environmental changes will affect my future career as well. So without further ado, let us dive right in and take a look at what our environment will look like in the future.
When talking about water, food, land, energy, transportation, air, and more it is easy to focus on the negatives of how each of these are being affected by the way humans live today, especially in America. According to several studies, researchers, and scientists the human population is basically harming everything about our environment, from the air we breathe to the food we eat and ways we rely and depend on energy and water. Based on their predictions, we are not only killing ourselves prematurely, we are also depleting our land of its resources that are essential to life. And because we are consuming more than we produce there is concern and fear that we are going to ultimately work ourselves out of jobs and drive ourselves to the grave. Sure, the above statement may be true of a more extreme form of thinking, but you have to realize that from this general thought process we have birthed an international environmental crisis/concern-, which can be viewed as both positive and negative today, depending on the way an individual feels about the topic. Looking on the brighter side, this increased environmental awareness and urgency has motivated many to begin focusing on alternative forms of production and conservation in order to keep our society, at large, alive and thriving.
Speaking of conservation, there are several ways already that we have begun devoting our time and efforts to developing more energy and products from the earth’s abundant renewable sources. In doing so, we are creating alternate forms to depend on in time of need or urgency, for example present day if we continue in our bad habits of massive consumption. Some of these sustainability changes require more technology and knowledge than we have tapped into thus far, while others can be practiced by the common man. For example, in order to reduce greenhouse pollutants and emissions we can drive less (or drive hybrid) and pay into mass transportation or biking; make “green” upgrades on our homes, or move inner city to be centrally located to work and all other places of interest; print less paper; purchase more efficient appliances and office equipment; reduce our carbon footprint; and implement more cap and trade programs to encourage the downsize of certain negative habits. While some of us may practice most of these things diligently now, it is expected to become a norm of the future, especially if gas prices take a huge increase and the urban neighborhoods are the new rural. People will have no choice but to conserve.
In regards to food and water sources we are going to have to decrease our amount of consumption, and once again, especially in America. Being that we are the most obese nation in the world this should not be a problem for more equal and smaller portioned food distribution. The challenge in doing this will be found when Americans realize they cannot have everything they want and food does not grow on trees (not literally speaking). America will be forced to consider other inhabitants of the world, rather than doing what they have always done before and greedily “passing by” while taking notice of the apparent lack in the world, but not taking any action to make a difference. America has yet to realize that our decisions are literally impacting the world. Our amount of over-consumption is, in a sense, taking away from others in the world.
Turning our attention to energy and fuel sources we have already shifted to alternate forms to fuel cars and heat homes. The more natural, renewable sources we can find, the better off we will be in years to come. As I write this paper people are thinking of ways to advance technology and produce more tidal and wave energy; they are devising new plans for desalinating water at lower costs, and filling tanks with ethanol and leftover oil to ensure cleaner air is moving into our lungs. There are so many ways we have begun to produce alternative forms of energy, in the end it is hard to speak of all the negative environmental impacts when so many positives are being employed.
Sustainability is the focus and conservation is the plan. With increased awareness only great things can come as people realize they can make a difference- one person at a time. In my own life I have been challenged to think of ways I can conserve energy, reduce my water use, recycle more, and essentially feed into a healthier and greener lifestyle. In my future I want to be a part of the plan, rather than the problem, and contribute to society and the air we breathe by making my home as environmentally friendly as possible. From what I have learned in this course, I plan to share information with people as much as possible to increase their awareness of what is happening in this huge world we abide in. So often people do not invest time or thought into the environment because they either do not believe they can make a positive difference, or are not aware of the global effects our habits are having. They may only be aware of what is happening on the small scale in their home and neighborhood, rather than the larger scale- which includes the global air, oceans, crops, natural resources, etcetera.
As far as ways in which environmental studies will impact my career I cannot think of any at the moment other than just informing people of how they can make a difference in the world when they put their efforts behind great causes. I guess it is hard for me to know how I will apply this to work because I have yet to figure out what I want to do. Ultimately, I believe that everyone should focus on sustaining the environment and conserving energy in ways that they can. Of course one has to adjust to lifestyle changes, but after time if all of us adopted new methods of conservation we would be able to sustain the earth and provide future generations with abundant resources to use and enjoy.

Brennan, S. & Withgott, J. (2008). Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. 3rd Ed. Pearson
Benjamin Cummings. San Franscisco: CA.

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