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After Earth Day

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The Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) once again did a wonderful job of organizing Earth Day activities for Los Alamos.  

Earth Day is a special day that lets us get together as a community to celebrate how much we value a healthy, sustainable environment, and to recognize the many things we are already doing to preserve and enhance the environment for ourselves and our children.

But now that Earth Day is over, we need to be aware that this is a continuing struggle.  Population increases will continue to put pressure on our open areas. 

It will always be cheaper for industry to release pollutants to the environment rather than to capture and dispose of them, despite the costs this imposes on society as a whole. 

The critical role of energy for our society means we will continue to burn coal with its air pollution and enhancement of global climate change and to drill for oil and gas in more and more sensitive areas unless we make major investments in infrastructure for renewable energy.  
Passage and enforcement of laws and regulations to prevent continuing degradation of our earth is only possible if those of us who want our children to inherit as good a world to live in as the one we had stay aware and involved.

As individuals we can take many steps to reduce our own impacts on the environment — recycling, taking care in our use of water and energy, reducing our use of fuel for transportation.  A simple web search will provide a variety of strategies for each of us to minimize our impact.  These actions are important, not only for their direct effect, but by making us role models for our families and friends.

Beyond this, however, we need to be politically active. Much of the state of our environment in the future will be determined by the actions of legislatures and regulatory bodies at the national, state and local levels.

We need to make clear to candidates and officials of all parties that we care about environmental protection and are willing to accept necessary costs to achieve this goal.  Special interests that lobby to reduce regulation in order to increase their profits are always well represented at the legislature and at regulatory hearings.  

Citizen awareness of the issues and involvement in these processes is essential to avoid continuing environmental degradation with its associated costs to our health and well being.

The task may seem daunting.  It sometimes seems that our individual efforts are futile when we consider the magnitude of the problem.  But as a member of a group of committed people we can have an effective voice.

The Sierra Club is one of many environmental organizations in New Mexico working for a sustainable future.  These organizations are critical to providing a counterbalance to the well funded industry actions.  

They are able to keep track of government activities that will affect the environment, and to alert their members to critical issues.  

Member responses to these alerts, such as calls or e-mails to legislators, testimony at hearings, and comments on draft Environmental Impact Statements, can have a significant impact on the outcomes.  

All of these organizations welcome your membership, contributions, and most importantly any volunteer efforts you are able to give.  

Membership in groups which advocate for things you care about is a powerful way to increase your personal impact on the future.

 

Mark Jones

Los Alamos