Sunday, December 24, 2006

We need more Environmental Studies


One of RochesterEnvironment.com’s stated goals is “To increase independent and objective studies of our environment to find out the affect of industrial pollution, sprawl, invasive species and other assaults that would affect our environment.” –from About Rochester Environment.com. For we cannot possibly solve the question, is our species living sustainably? if we do not know what effects our human footprints are having on the planet. By footprints, I mean the effects of our industrial chemicals, the wholesale changes in our air, the paving over of our planet, etc.

Right now, most of the information we get about the condition of our environment comes from the industries that pollute. That is because most governments cannot afford to conduct emission tests and objective studies that would give us honest, objective feedback about what is actually going into our environment and what effect these chemicals are having. Though, there are hints that massive amounts of chemicals—like the pharmaceutical drugs we dump down our toilets cause endocrine changes in fish and amphibians—are wreaking havoc on various ecospheres. Of course, universities and governments and environmental groups and scientists with grants, also conduct objective studies on our environment.

But along with that, you can help with environmental studies by joining EarthWatch. “Earthwatch Institute is an international non-profit organization that brings science to life for people concerned about the Earth's future. Founded in 1971, Earthwatch supports scientific field research by offering volunteers the opportunity to join research teams around the world. This unique model is creating a systematic change in how the public views science and its role in environmental sustainability.”

I am not associated with EarthWatch in any way; I just think that this group offers an excellent opportunity for ordinary people to be a part of the job of collecting information the rest of us need to make decisions about our environment. The days when we can leave Nature alone to do what Nature does are over. Humans have affected the climate, water quality, and introduced chemicals never before experience by our environment or natural chemicals in concentrations never before experience by our species in the five or seven million years or so since we have been around. Carbon Dioxide, for example, has been in Earth’s atmosphere in higher concentrations in earlier times, maybe billions of years ago, but our species wasn’t breathing it. We need our atmosphere to be where it is today, not where it was billions of years ago.

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