The US’s environmental history has been a rocky road of industrialization, corporate controlled interest that have heavily affected our ecosystems. We have acted greedily and apathetically towards the environment, and a true green revolution is emerging. With climate changes as a true and terrifying threat, people are beginning to realize that if we are going to save the earth we must start now. Some neo-environmentalists such as Shellenberger take the approach that the climate is already changing so we should do what humans have always done best: adapt with technology. However, isn’t the overuse of technology and industry been a major contributor to what is happening to our climate today? It is time to get back to our roots and live full-spectrum sustainable lives.
Solutions to climate change need to be big ideas, action and worldwide industrial changes that decrease the amount of GHGs we are emitting into the atmosphere. We cant just “ride a bike, plant a tree”, but we need real fixes, big movements, and not just a less bad society. Energy reform must be massive with international incentives to utilize renewable energy, natural gas over coal, and promoting energy efficiency. So far the Kyoto Protocol had very mild success encouraging those nations that ratified the document, but failed in other major ways. The two largest GHG emitters US and China did not ratify the protocol, limiting its effectiveness. The US needs to be a role model in renewables. There is incredible opportunity for us to utilize solar power and wind power in small localized systems, and in massive systems in areas such as the Midwest. If the government divested from subsidizing the coal industry the money could be used for renewable research and installation. Renewables are the energy of the future: they come from free resources such as the sun and wind that are infinite and clean.
The very consumerist industrialized culture that has mainly contributed to the climate disaster we are now in is jumping on the bandwagon of ‘being green’. Green-washed products have become an issue in the market: companies claim that their products are environmentally friendly because they emit a certain chemical, but what other chemical replaced it? What resources were used for developing those chemicals, transporting the good, and what movements and ideals does the corporation support? All of these questions must be asked, which is asking a lot out of every consumer. This is why a system should be put in place that companies can be stamped with, free of charge on the company. A message board on every product’s ‘green-spectrum,’ if you will, that alerts the consumer how smart that product is.
Nature is the oldest truth. It has been producing, recycling and alive way before we attempted to conquer it. In order to be a sustainable world, we must utilize bio-mimicry and eco-effectiveness. Nature is also a localized system in that not all species can live in all biomes. By living local as nature does, getting energy from the sun and the wind, seeing waste as nutrients, and designing cities to be efficient, fun and beautiful, we could make great strides the livability of our earth, and reduce the threat of climate change and environmental degradation.