Governments implement rules and take action that both protect and harm the environment. This contradiction seems to be okay because humans happen to desire things that involve the destruction of the earth. Who is to set limits?
The general public tends to shy away from viewing environmental protection as an individual responsibility. We tend to put our faith in the government to keep us safe; however, “safe” seems to take on a different meaning when it comes to the environmental sustainability and the foods we consume. It’s as if our safety is compromised for a greater gain that only benefits a few. Governments may need to link up with dependable researchers to investigate what is harmful and what is not harmful to us. Granted, the process of tracking down the source of cancers and other illnesses is multifaceted, multilayered, and highly convoluted. Many of the adverse effects on our bodies, which we think are caused by the foods we eat, may in fact be a result of a combination of factors. This further complicates the debate. Who is to blame? Who is to be regulated? Who is to regulate?
It is evident that government involvement alone will not suffice in efforts to reverse the harm that has been done to our planet. Rebuilding a new and healthy planet requires all who impact it—not just those in charge. The system that affects the planet includes the government, industries and the general public. International collaboration is also a key ingredient. The government may also work with responsible scientists who are both rational and passionate when it comes to using alternative sources of energy, reducing CO2 emissions and environmental protection.
So, to what extent should the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and The Food and Drug Administration be working with industries? Industries create products. Governmental administrations and agencies set limits. A compromise between these two systems can be dangerous. The government should be conversing with ethical public and private research sectors who do not stand to gain and who prioritize releasing reliable and trustworthy information about changes in the environment. This is currently not the case, or at least not completely.
Let’s take a look at just a few ways in which the government acts against the interest and wellbeing of the people:
- The government is responsible for draining swamps for new infrastructure and construction, and that has led to droughts. These droughts also impact the existence of wildlife, including a variety of birds and several amphibians.
- Despite the fact that deforestation is barred in certain areas, the government practically sponsors the creation of new roads into property that are not necessarily public. Not only have the trees vanished, but animals are endangered.
- Fracking: an oil-extracting method that Denton has fought against passionately. The government has allowed the use of fracking, despite the overwhelming opposition from the public. Personal accounts of individuals who suffer from health issues because of fracking increase in number every day.
These are just a few problems that showcase how contradictory the government is, but it still seems to be okay to a certain extent. Humans happen to desire things that involve the destruction of the earth, but that doesn’t make environmental destruction okay. Limits are needed from the government, within the government, and on the government.
Marie Sheinback, a fifth year Ph.D psychology student, feels very strongly about environmental sustainability and feels that a more inclusive approach to sustainability is important.
“I think it’s the trick because I think that there could be a lot of progress that could be made in terms of environmental sustainability,” says Sheinback.
Several studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including those by institutions like NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NOAA National Climatic Data Center, Met Office Hadley Centre/Climatic Research Unit and the Japanese Meteorological Agency, show that over 96% of climate scientists agree that human activity is likely to be the most influential factor on climate-warming.
Climate change is real. It may be worthwhile to think about the difference between those who impose the most harm to the earth and those who will end up suffering. Those who have the power to take steps to destroy the planet also have the ability to save it—unless it’s too late. What do we need? We need a good government that recognizes the causes of environmental issues, enforces policies based on rationality and good science, and is willing to prioritize the public’s interest over industries.