This post is about hope or despair when it comes to the environment. All of the Green Moms are blogging about the emotional issue of whether we think it is hopeless and things are going downhill so fast that there is no return - or are we optimistic about turning things around and making the earth a safe and healthy place to live. I have been thinking about this topic for several weeks and could not think what to write, even though I am an optimist through and through.
I had to ask myself why am I writing this blog if I don’t believe that it is doing some good. I have to admit that lately I have felt down about how much good I am doing and the thought of quitting the blog has crossed my mind. I really do not think things are hopeless, even though the U.S. Congress is acting so anti-environmental lately. So I have been mulling this over, “Is the environmental situation getting better?”. We are facing energy issues, global warming, over population, unscrupulous corporate greed, water issues, pollution of our oceans, rampant consumerism, etc. This is to name only a few problems.
So I got to thinking about how it used to be - both personally and globally. I participated in the first Earth Day in 1970. I was not an activist and did not do much except listen to some speakers, but I felt passionately about taking care of the environment. Grassroots support for the environment was just beginning to grow. There was a ready-made population of young baby boomers who were idealistic about peace and they made a great foundation on which to build the movement. We did not have the disposable plastics that are here today - definitely no disposable shopping bags and no bottled water. Beverages came in returnable bottles. The Clean Air Act was passed that same year. How much progress has been made since then?
Personally, I feel that if progress is being made, then there is hope. Without doing any deep research, I looked around my own community here in mid-north Indiana to see what we do differently from 1970.
This is one of the biggest differences between 1970 and now. In 1970, Texas gas was often less than $.50 per gallon and the US produced a higher percentage of our own gas rather than importing. Cars were gas-guzzlers. I remember that my neighbor's big Cadillac got 5 miles per gallon! Gas prices are higher now but that is the one thing that motivates drivers to conserve. Gas is considered an issue of national security now.
Now we have many miles of hiking trails and bike lanes.
Now my community promotes alternative methods of transportation by providing bike racks downtown.
We did not recycle anything in the 70s - I mean nothing. Everything went into the garbage to be taken to the landfill. Now, my community has a well developed recycling program.
Disposable plastics were not an issue in the 70s. Now the plastics' bin is the first to fill up. And plastic litter on land and in the sea is becoming a health issue.
Now we have a public bus system that is constantly improving. It even has hybrid busses. CityBus gives Purdue students and faculty free access to the transit system.
There are hundreds of recycling bins like this on the Purdue campus. This one has garbage in it, showing that there is still a need for educating.