Go Ahead, Call Me A Tree-Hugger

I recently blogged about the impact that An Inconvenient Truth had on me, and then this morning two articles came to my attention.  First of all, there was a string of horrible thunderstorms and tornadoes in Florida this morning, weather that would seem to me to be more like summer weather, not January weather. 

Secondly, this article sent to me by Meghan, which basically indicates that the scientific community is certain that global warming is happening and that it is happening because of human behavior.

Earlier this week my dad told me about a Senator (from Oregon, I believe) he heard on the radio talking about how everything in An Inconvenient Truth is a lie.  Simply not true and there’s a lot of science out there to disprove it and show that we’re just in a natural cycle.  Apparently he’s looking at a totally different scientific community than everyone else is.

However, all of this got me thinking about people’s reaction to pollution and global warming.  A lot of people get very defensive about it, one way or another, and I have started to wonder why.  It only takes a small effort to make a pretty significant difference in the amount of pollution you’re responsible for, and nearly all of them result in positive outcomes not only for the environment, but for you as well.   

I have had a difficult time seeing the potential down-side of conserving, recycling, reducing, and generally being more environmentally conscious.  What does it really matter if a hundred years from now it turns out that global warming really WAS just part of the cycle and there’s nothing we could do to stop it?  It should be our duty to at least preserve the environment to be clean and leave natural resources for generations future, and most of the time it is to your immediate advantage as well.

For example, if you change all – or just some – of your light bulbs to a compact fluorescent bulbs, not only are you using less energy, which means less pollution, but it means less electricity on your electric bill!!  It saves you money!  Same thing with turning down the heat two degrees.  Small differences that can have a big impact.  The worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t cost you any more.  The best thing is that we have slightly cleaner air.

You have to throw out your trash – why not just recycle more of it?  Everyone can benefit from a little extra exercise, so why not look at that extra trip out to the curb as being good for you? 

If you save some money while saving the planet, then that money could be spent on other things… maybe save some up and help to solve the national crisis of too much debt/not enough saving.  Or maybe invest it in some retirement funds so that we can get rid of that pesky social security issue.  Or just spend it and help the economy.

Ahh – the economy.  That’s the big problem with saving the environment, right?  It is an interesting defense that companies put up against taking steps towards environmental responsibility.  They say it’ll cost too much and those lobbying against environmental protection say that it’ll destroy our economy.  It is a weak argument at best, as American businesses have proven again and and again that they are resilient and resourceful.  More than likely, it will create whole new companies – it has already created a new industry of pollution control and remediation.  It could provide new jobs, and conserving our natural resources means that the companies which extract them will have more resources for a longer time – more oil to dig up, more trees to cut.

Every company which makes its profits off of a natural resource should be figuring out how to replenish them or what will replace it when they run out.  If they aren’t doing that, then they deserve to shut down.   It isn’t just about saving a species of owl or making sure that Arizona doesn’t become the new west coast, it is about meeting customers’ needs now and in the long-term.  And in the most dire of circumstances, it means treating the planet with the respect that it deserves, ensuring that there will simply be enough people around to buy the products. 

Is it so crazy to think that capitalism could be the solution to the environmental crises?  It has worked before and can work again – we just need to demand it.