Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Next Step by Tim Morgan

Environmental Science; the Next Step
Tim Morgan
PHS 100
David Terrell
Warner Pacific ADP
August 8, 2010

By addressing the changes needed in our society to confront future development and sustainability, we may be able to develop a plan of action; including a personal reflection on ways I will personally be using the information from this class in the future, and how it will affect my role as a steward of the environment.

Is it possible to have to truly “Green” product? Everything from new construction, to all natural hemp products has some type of impact on the environment. It is not possible to be no-impact; even products that claim to be low impact may not be as low as they claim.
The first thing that our society needs to change is the way in which we measure our impact on the environment. When consumers purchase products that are labeled as green, they think that they are helping to save our environment. This causes a false sense of security when average people try to do their part. A product that is labeled “Green” may be biodegradable, or made of all natural fibers. However, the process by which it was made still has some form of impact on the environment. In forms of waste, harvesting techniques, and manufacturing all products have some kind of negative effect on our environment.
The issue of measurement it paramount when evaluating how to respond to the growing concern for the world around us. Perhaps the world governments could agree on some standard form of measurement, although this is highly unlikely. It is more likely that local authorities will take their own view of what our impact should be, what it is, and if we need to make improvements. In other words, the standardization of measurement will not be solved world wide.
As we look to the future some of the most practical things we can do are already in place. Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling have been worked into us as Oregonians for a full generation now. These still remain the most viable way of lowering the impact we have as individuals on the environment. Using less, reusing what you have, and being responsible with how you dispose of waste have to play into every decision that we make as consumers. In recent history and even now there are movements to regulate how individuals achieve this level of responsibility. This choice of stewardship can not be mandated, it must be chosen. Regulations should be honed and refined to focus on the most egregious offenders in the corporate world. This would dramatically reduce our impact into our environment, and in a much faster way.
In the Portland Oregon area, the current push is to eliminate even outlaw plastic grocery bag, and charge a fee for paper. What is not being addressed is what these two changes could do for Oregonians. The first issue, the plastic bag, has not been full addressed by those presenting their wish to eliminate them fully. These bags are in fact, a petroleum product. They are derived from oil. What is not being explained is that the oil used in the byproduct of other processes. In short, by eliminating the production of these plastic bags the wasted oil will no longer have a use and will have to be disposed of in some other way.
No one is in love with plastic bags, they are not a very “green product”, but what else can we do with the byproduct? It is unclear what the ban could do. At the same time, charging for paper bags will only inflate the cost of groceries for most families. In our household we own a small army of reusable cloth bags for groceries. However, most shopping trips we forget to use them, we have spent the money and energy to purchase these cloth bags, and would potentially have to make multiple trips in our car to collect the forgotten bags…increasing our effect on the environment.
This one ban/regulation could back fire; it could also be extremely successful. The fact remains that this issue continues to be politically driven and not scientifically. This causes peoples emotions to be involved, not their brains.
On a personal note, as I continue my journey toward being a teacher, I have realized that this issue is far more complicated than I had originally thought. It will be my job to arm my students with the information that they need to make education choices in their lives. This process of educating to arm will allow me to help grow a population of good stewards. As a steward and Christian myself, I have held the belief that it is our responsibility to care for nature. In reality the only thing that we should hold more dearly is the stewardship and care of our fellow man including the body of Christ, his church.
In some cases, as a Christian, I may choose to help my fellow man at the cost of the environment. Only after measuring all of the potential outcomes of all choices can this agonizing decision be made.

Brennan, Scott & Withgott, Jay. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories Third Ed.

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