Conservation Corner

Pauline Lee

The first two parts of Our Changing Environment have shown us that life is fragile and can survive only in conditions with limited variability. Five mass extinctions of life when over 90% of living species became extinct occurred between 66 to 500 million years ago due to natural catastrophic events. Afterwards, new species developed that could adapt to the new environments. Most mammals evolved after the fifth extinction 66 million years ago. Since the industrial revolution in the late 1700s, man’s increasing reliance on energy harnessed from hydrocarbons, oil, gas and coal; harvesting of other irreplaceable natural resources and industrial farming have polluted our environment. Moreover, these practices have caused global temperature to increase so that poor air quality, lack of clean water and ever more violent storms are destroying our environment. In 2015, pollution caused over nine million premature human deaths in the world. Air pollution leads to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and other illnesses. Water pollution can lead to infections and other health problems. Both plants and other living species are in serious decline. Their rate of extinction is many times higher than expected normally, causing scientists to suspect that mankind has started the world’s sixth mass extinction.

To avoid paying for and suffering from environmental disasters, we can prevent them by choosing more sustainable lifestyles. In the past decade, renewable energy sources, wind and solar, have grown nine-fold, so in 2017, they will supply 10% of U.S. energy generation. Big companies like Walmart, Macy’s, IKEA, Kohl’s, Costco, Target and Apple have committed to using solar energy, saving water, developing recycling, diverting from landfill and reducing energy usage. Switching from dependence on fossil fuels to renewable energy not only has become economical, it also reduces further increases in climate-warming CO2. Our Safeway on Alma School installed solar panels to provide electricity for the store, while shading their customers’ cars. You, too, can save on energy-efficient upgrades with SRP’s rebates and discounts. The initial cost for upgrades will reduce your electric bill to exceed your upgrade cost. Moreover, SRP offers free tree seedlings to plant around your home to reduce air pollution and cooling cost. The end result is a better environment for our survival.

Nature can recycle air, water and all organic things to renew our environment. But when we use too much at a fast rate, nature cannot cope with the excess waste and rapid changes. Everyone is a consumer. Excess consumption leads to poor health, pollution of landfills with our discards and destruction of our environment with mining, farming and construction. If each of us reduces, reuses and recycles, together, our energy and water consumption and wastes will decrease significantly. Less waste leads to more savings and better living. Drought, fire, floods, tornados and hurricanes have caused death and mass migration to safer places. Will our world sustain a growing world population in a smaller, safer environment? The health and wellbeing of our future generations will depend on how we live today.