Ken Larsen's web site - Environment and politics


To some degree, environment and politics are polar opposites.  Very few politicians get elected because they pledge to protect the environment.  Many more get elected, because they pledge growth and jobs.  When people get inside the voting booth, they're inclined to favor their wallet over trees and endangered species. Such an attitude can have a deleterious effect on the environment ... which in the long run could adversely affect people's wallets far more than a lack of jobs.  People and politicians must be educated to understand this.


Our environment is heading in a dire direction:

  1. World population is exploding.  [details]

  2. Plastic is polluting our oceans. [details and details]

  3. There have been some alarming instances of air pollution.  [Beijing example]

  4. Overdevelopment causes flooding.  [details]

  5. Other examples of devastation

  6. Animal and plant species are disappearing at an alarming rate.  This is documented in the book "The Sixth Extinction" by Richard Leakey (1995)

  7. Global warming [Urban heat island, Heat dome]

What are the prospects for reversing these trends?  In my opinion, they're bleak.  Donald Trump wouldn't have won the Presidency if he had campaigned to save the environment.  He promised to save jobs.  West Virginians weren't interested in hearing about the polluting effects of coal burning.  They wanted their coal jobs.


At a local level, developers only care about developing.  That's how they make their money.  They don't make money protecting the environment.  They work hard to grease the wheels of local government to get their projects approved.  [Laguna Beach example]  In Chapel Hill, a project currently up for approval is the Fordham Blvd Apartments near Eastgate shopping center.  If approved, it will be built on a flood plain.  [details]


One of the problems of political decisions is that there is considerable delay between the approval of a project and the environmental consequences.  For example, approval to build on a flood plain doesn't cause immediate calamity.  It may be many years and many approved projects before calamity strikes.  Examples:  the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston in 2017 and the effects of Hurricane Matthew on the North Carolina Coast in 2016.


Related links

Solutions will be very difficult


The dinosaurs ruled the earth for over 160 million years and left it in pristine environmental condition - until an asteroid came along. 


On the other hand, Man's Industrial Revolution began a scant 200 years ago, but look at the environmental mess that the earth has become:  global warming, pollution, demise of animal species, over population of humans.  Politicians must take immediate action to turn this tide around.  Will we last as long as the dinosaurs?  Heck, without turning around our damage, I doubt modern man will last another thousand years. 


Only humans [with their opposal thumbs and "intelligence"] have been capable of creating chemicals/substances which are not naturally recycable.  The only recourse is that we recycle everything, but that substantially drives up costs, and companies are inclined to move to countries which don't have such regulations.  To address that problem, we should consider reversing our "free trade" policies and return to the imposition of tariffs ... with higher tariffs imposed on countries which do not protect the environment.  This also will not go over well with voters, because voters love the flow of cheap goods from foreign countries.  They will vote with their wallets.


Add in the fact that humans can be slobs [Booker Creek trash example], and we have a virtually unsolvable problem.


How do we address the political inertia which obstructs sane environmental policies from being implemented?  In my opinion, we may have to turn political decision making over to computers.  [details]



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