As the new year rapidly approaches, a new political force is making its self heard. For decades now environmentalists have warned that the path humanity is on is unsustainable. We squander the precious resources that are provided to us by the natural environment without carefully weighting out the potential costs. We have used the air, water and land as dumping grounds for all sorts of anthropogenic wastes assuming that we will never reach its capacity for renewal.
Global climate change will continue to make dry places drier and wet places wetter. Natural cycles of hot and cold weather patterns will continue to be exaggerated, but at a pace more rapid than most of the ecosystems we depend on are capable of coping with. This will be compounded by direct anthropogenic problems, like contaminated fresh water, until only a few of the most resilient systems will survive.
Today, as the severity of natural disasters grows, politicians still insist on discussing environmental stewardship in economic terms. Protecting tax loop holes or safe guarding "entitlements" are more of a litmus test for political popularity than scientific literacy. As long as financial interests are held paramount over everything else, the path forward is clear, and it does not look good.
But that might soon change. Hurricane Sandy represented one of the most expensive weather related catastrophes in our recent history. This is mother nature trying to wake us up. Civilized nations have for the most part realized that like it or not, we are not above nature, but apart of it. Now is the time for America to step up to the plate and take responsibility for our actions. We cannot afford to selfishly revile in our teenage years much longer, but take our place as a maturing nation capable of harnessing our skill and determination towards becoming leaders once more.
These responsibilities include paying full price for the services we enjoy. No more youth discount, we must factor the environmental costs into our consumption. Cradle to the grave product life spans need to be considered. The convenience of single use plastics should come at a price commensurate with the ecological damage they create. Designed obsolesce needs to be rooted out and abolished from business models. Striving for carbon neutrality should be as, if not more, important than any symbol of social status.
Elected leaders that still cling to outdated models of success cannot be allowed to endanger our future any longer. Make your voice heard. If we do not act offensively right now to stem the "profit at all costs" attitudes that infect our culture, mother nature will put us on the defensive. That will surely be much more expensive in the long run.