Whether it be through intensified media attention, or due to the efforts of prominent scientists and other members of society, we have become increasingly aware of the detrimental effects that technological advances in industry and agriculture have on the global environment. However, pollution is growing at such a rate that the cleaning up is too slow. This slowness is partly due to the fact that the threats we face are indistinct, since they come in the form of small particles of invisible gases and radioactivity, and in part because of the cost. The cost to clean up or prevent pollution is high at the individual, governmental and corporate levels. Money isn t the only loss due to pollution. There is also the loss of visual display and great material loss as well. The visual display and material loss is the only thing that wakes up the people to make them do something. It took the publicity of the dipleating ozone layer to encourage large chemical companies to begin a gradual phase-out of these harmful substances, even though scientists already discovered the effects of CFC s and the ozone.
It is said by Carl Sagan and many other scientists that ozone layer would take at least 100 years to repair itself if all damaging activity were to come to screeching halt. But yet we continue to use harmful chemicals every day. Why not? We won t be around to see the world come to an end. We can already see the effects of the damaged ozone layer. The increased number of skin cancer cases, the danger of altering the food chain, and global warming are only a few effects of the damage that has been done. Sagen calls for the immediate phase-out of CFC s, as well as to improve energy usage, planting trees, and any other ways to improve the environment.
While the cause and effect relationship between technological advances and pollution have definitely influenced the public outpoor towards change, and influenced corporations to alter their pollution causing mechanisms, an immediate change would meet with some resistance. The destruction of the ozone layer and incidents such as the Exxon oil spill in Alaska are indeed enormous calamities which have opened our eyes and made us take a step back to take a look at what is going on around us and in our atmosphere. But our problem is that we only look at the problems as they occur instead of trying to prevent them. This is how western medicine is though also. We spend a lot of money treating the disease or sickness instead of devoting some of that money to prevent them. It is one thing to agree that car travel pollutes the air, (look at the Los Angeles Basin and the dense smog that inhibits it), and yet millions of people will get in their cars tomorrow and add yet more pollution to the environment. We can t stop people from driving their cars but car pooling would sure help a lot. If everyone would find at least one person to ride with then car pollution would decrease by one half. I was driving home from San Francisco one day with my girlfriend and passing through San Jose I say maybe 2% of the people in a car with another person. We were in the car pool lane traveling 65mph while the others were gridlocked. If it were me, I would desperately find someone to ride to work with.
Another large cause of pollution is the increased amount of product usage. There are more products being consumed which increased the demand and production of these products. Also decisions that were made in the past are affecting us now. Such as automobile use versus train transit, and the manufacture of energy through the building of nuclear plants, which effect and influence our lifestyle. Thus the decisions we make today will have an effect on our children and grandchildren. So why doesn t our government do anything about today , probably because they have other things to worry about, like our president. The challenge to make the necessary changes to improve the environment are further complicated in the following ways. First, there are conflicting viewpoints as to the role government plays to influence private industry to replace technologically damaging processes with more ecologically sound technologies. Second, to phase out current technologies is a burden many corporations are unwilling to take on. Why would they want to affect their profit margin? Third, governmental failures in policy create a situation where corporations have no incentive to clean up their act. The question is asked; what s in it for me? Legislators focus solely on winning the vote rather than helping the environment. Improving the environment is seen as conflicting with growth in business, and it becomes more of a risk than an opportunity. However, the problem with the government is the great relationship it has with some high pollution causing companies. These include automobile and nuclear industries which produce a lot of money in and for the United States.
Although the government feels like it can t do anything to help the environment it really can. They could offer incentives for companies that can reduce pollution. They have created some car pool lanes but they could add some to more areas of the nation to encourage their usage. They could pass some regulations to increase clean up. And they could spend some valuable moneys to monitor their regulations.
We the citizens can do our part. We could car pool. We could use non aerosol products. There are many other ways we could clean up, but that s not the point. We need to recognize the problem and deal with it today. We need not put it off till tomorrow. We need to address the issues today and start to make this a better place to live. There a lot of people out there that are weird and try to preach about end of Earth due to pollution. And a lot of people really don t know what is going on around them. As a U.S and Earth citizen I believe that if we just open our eyes and ears and realize the problems that arise around us and do our part to improve the area around us. If everyone did their part then this place would be a lot cleaner and healthier place to live.