Tammy L. Hooper
PHS 100A, Environmental Studies
Warner Pacific University
January 1, 2012
Natural Resources and Environmental Regulations in Society
This paper will discuss how society can assess natural resources and how as a society we can establish environmental regulations that have an impact on our culture and lifestyle. I will start with the definition of the word assess, which according to the web site Dictionary.com means to “estimate officially the value of property, income, resources, etc” (dictionary.com, 2011). This would imply that the person or organization doing the assessing values our natural resources and is looking at sustainability of the larger functional systems both for living and nonliving things that include society currently and for future generations. This would be an ecocentric perspective (Brennan, 2011, p. 141).
I agree with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that our natural resources such as “water, minerals, coal, oil, gas, living things and the land itself are this Nation's treasures” and further states this important information, “To be effective stewards of these valuable resources, our Nation must constantly advance our scientific knowledge and understanding” (Assessing Our Natural Resources, 2005). The USGS also discusses the importance of our Nations decision makers to be informed on how natural resources could be affected by decision making regarding demand of said resources and how these changes could affect our economy, environment and quality of life (Assessing Our Natural Resources, 2005). I believe being informed allows us to know what we are standing for and to make informed choices about that stance.
The USGS and other resources such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offer programs to help our decision makers become informed about our natural resources and to understand how their decisions could affect our culture and lifestyle. Examples of these programs are the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program and National Water-Use Information Program, Mineral Resource Assessments, National Oil and Gas Assessment, National Coal Resources Assessment, and World Energy Assessment. There are also biological resources available such as North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS), Non-Indigenous Aquatic Species, and Status and Trends of Biological Resources. Land use programs such as the National Aerial Photography Program (NAPP) provide information on changes in the patterns of vegetation and land use (Assessing Our Natural Resources, 2005). There are also many programs that are more community focused such as the EPA’s website on green living that helps decision makers addresses areas of home and garden, school, community, shopping, on the road and at work (Learn the Issues: Green Living, 2011). The resources that have been discussed are all governmental however there are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that influence international environmental policy as well such as The Nature Conservancy and Greenpeace. The Nature Conservancy has a wonderful website that explains their mission which is “to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends” (Learn More About The Nature Conservancy, 2012).
I personally like the idea of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as a basis for how society can establish environmental regulations. Groups such as The Nature Conservancy use “science in everything they do” and “pursue non-confrontational, pragmatic solutions to conservation challenges” (Learn More About The Nature Conservancy, 2012). The first step to addressing environmental issues is recognizing a problem in society with our natural resources and having some facts to illustrate the problem. The next step is to see what is causing the identified problem (Brennan, 2011, pp. 185-186). For an average citizen such as myself, I would need to know how to scientifically collect the data needed for these first two steps. If I am unable to do that myself I would need to know how to connect with a scientific resource that would be interested in helping me such as becoming involved with a NGO. The third step is to problem solve a solution/s to the problem where again science is integral to this process.
To be effective, getting organized is vital. I know people who have started coalitions or joined an organization to help influence a cause that they believe in that will make life better for individuals and/or environmental causes. I have observed this requires passion, determination and a commitment to often spend substantial amounts of time supporting that cause. The fifth step is lobbying policymakers and this step requires knowing someone influential at the political level to allow you access to people who can actually make change happen (Brennan, 2011). To achieve this organizations such as The Nature Conservancy have partners with individuals, stake holders, governments to local nonprofits and corporations.
The last step in establishing environmental regulations is to turn your solution into law by preparing a bill that represents the desired outcome (Brennan, 2011, p. 187). Again, one has to have networking connects in order to have the bill sponsored. At this point the bill can become enacted into law if it passes successfully through several committees or it can fail. If the bill becomes policy then several different entities are needed to implement measure and enforce regulations to that law.
Information discussing environmental policy in this paper is what I have learned from reading our textbook and researching online. In a simpler world my wish would be that all humankind was inherently good and put a high value and kindness on everything God’s hand created. If a problem was pointed out such as we are consuming our precious natural resources at a voracious rate and we are quickly headed for ruin and harming many others in the process so we need to stop doing that. Then a light bulb would go on and society would be able to say “okay” and be satisfied with a simpler existence that includes more caring for others and less divide economically, socially, politically and racially.
(2011). Retrieved January 1, 2012, from dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/assess
Assessing Our Natural Resources. (2005, July 20). Retrieved January 1, 2012, from USGS : http://www.usgs.gov/themes/factsheet/094-99/
Brennan, S. &. (2011). Environment The Science Behind the Stories. San Francisco: Pearson Education, Inc.
Learn the Issues: Green Living. (2011, December 22). Retrieved January 1, 2012, from EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency : http://www.epa.gov/gateway/learn/greenliving.html
Learn More About The Nature Conservancy. (2012). Retrieved January 9, 2012, from The Nature Conservancy: http://www.nature.org/aboutus/index.htm