Green Living: Think Big, Act Small, Essay Example
The amount of available reserves, or raw materials, the capacity of the Earth to absorb pollution, climate change and environmental destruction caused by reserve extraction and use is a concern to our current and future society. The concern is recognized at the levels of both consumer consumption and the availability of materials for consumption. In addition, the concern is not only by the big and powerful companies and their continuous new technologies, the concern lies with the million consumers and local business as well. The capitalist cycle of economic growth has reached a point where new and improved technologies are now increasing the means for more consumer consumption rather than decreasing consumption. This has created an upward spiral to consumer living due to the problem of limited natural resources and the lifestyle of modern human life. It is therefore important for our society to “Think Big, Act Small”. Each individual must participate in a worldwide effort to change their living habits to a greener lifestyle.
Environmentalism is becoming a norm in countries all over the world. In fact, countries such as Britain and China are more advanced than the United States in environmental ways of living. Environmentalists are concerned with protecting are natural resources, keeping our water and air clean and protecting each species of animal and plant in the wilderness so that they are not destroyed and sent to extinction. In addition, one of the biggest efforts set forth by environmentalists for the past 15 years has been combating global warming. People, however, need to look at the big picture and instead of focusing on global warming, we need to focus our attentіon on technologіcal solutіons, such as fluorescent light bulbs or hybrіd cars. (Held 2003; Jelin 2000; Shellberger and Nordaus 2004,)
In the past, the notion “three worlds” was used to describe the environment, human society, and technology. A formula called “PAT” was also formulated to analyze the environmental impact of modern society. “PAT” is the Population multiplied by Affluence multiplied by Technology equals Environmental Impact (Foster, 2000). The formula gave insight to environmentalists to determine the exact impacts of individual and society living standards in regard to the environment, on all socioeconomic and cultural levels. This formula is important as economies are progressing in ideas, education, and technology with new technologies creating new problems such that mass consumerism is increasing with new technology (Najam, et. al 2007).
In order to balance the changing technology, individuals need to conserve energy. Conserving energy not only saves the consumer money, but is a major step into the conservation of Earth. We use energy in our everyday life and it is hard to imagine a day without some sort of energy usage. For instance, we use energy to provide light for our cities, towns, and homes. We use powered technology and machines in our homes and factories, to make products and cook our food. We use devices such as televisions and radios on a daily basis. (EPA 1997). Energy comes in two forms, non-renewable and renewable. The non-renewable sources are natural resources that are gone once used. These include, oil, gas and coal. In fact, 71.5 percent of energy in the states is used from non-renewable energy. (EPA 1997) Almost 85 percent of the energy consumption comes from fossіl fuels—coal, oіl, and natural gas supply (Cohen, 2011). Although the supplies of these are vast, they are not infinite. Moreover, more significant support from Cohen 2011, indicates that the earth may not atmosphere and biosphere may not endure the non-conservatory incinerating of fossil fuels. In addition, Rohli and Vega (2008) also support this by saying that organic carbon that has accumulated over time is continuously being discharged at a fast rate. This rate of discharge is corrupting the normal carbon cycle that should exist in the atmosphere; fossil fuels are just one of the energy sources that are causing problems with environmental conservation. There are renewable energy sources to include wind power, hydropower (water power), solar power, geothermal power (internal heat from the earth) and vegetation that can replace non-renewable energy sources. Only around 9.0 percent of energy is obtained from renewable energy sources in the United States. (EPA 1997). Renewable energy can offer our society a greener way to live. The energy is termed “renewable” because it occurs naturally in the environment. If managed properly, renewable energy can last in our society continuously while conserving our planet at the same time and without the worry of human consumption. (Blackburn 1987). In addition, renewable or reusable energy sources result in a decreased environmental impact compared to fossil fuels. (Blackburn 1987).
Watching these impacts of our society’s choices and seeing the earth’s resources deteriorate, leads to the ideas on what we can do to help improve this impact. Conserving energy seems to be a top priority on what each individual globally can do. I each person takes the time to conserve energy that can have a global impact on our Earth’s resources. I conducted research that could help me become more knowledgeable about energy conservation. After this research I have learned how to save energy instantly. Environmentally aware consumers can prevent more waste and conserve more energy by practicing the 3 R’s, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. There are many different ways an individual in our society can contribute to the environmental conservation effort. For instance, each person can reduce the amount of waste that is produced. Buy only items that you need and instead of throwing items away, try to reuse or recycle them. A good example is clothes. Donate clothes, pass clothes along to friends or resell the clothes at a garage sale. Try and make throwing items out a last resort. (EPA 2010) In addition, global understanding for the reduction of waste awareness is a necessity. For instance, standards such as the Kyoto Protocol which desіgned as an internatіonal agreement, requires the most proficient capitalіst countries to take part in the actions for the creation of global warming and in the reduction of chemical emissions. McCraw in 1999, indicated that our global goals were to reduce emissions by 5 percent in the year 2012, compared to levels analyzed in the 1990’s. Furthermore, since the earth’s has a specific capacity in which it can only store and create natural resources, awareness of the increasing supply and demand for human consumption is necessary. (Gieske, 2011) Therefore, a standard must be set in place in order to reduce consumption in regard to the incredible impacts the earth in undergoing due to this increased human need and consumption.
Incorporating a “Greener World”, with greener businesses, alternative and renewable energy programs, and involvement is the way for the future and the way to reestablish a greener environment. This can begin with ways one can green the workplace, from reducing waste to starting an office recycling program (Cohen, 2011). The challenge for businesses is to stimulate growth and produce profit without damaging the environment. Businesses that market environmental safe technologies, while practicing environmental principles, can show an increase in profit as well as provide future jobs for job losses in more traditional companies. (European Commission 2008)
Alternative and renewable energy in the United States has advanced as of 2010. Many U.S. states have developed alternative and renewable energy standards. For instance, coal mine methane, or more commonly known as CMM, is an example of an alternative or renewable energy resource for conservation efforts and state standards per the Environmental Protection Agency. CMM has been named a renewable energy resource by both federal and state law. Other renewable resources include solar thermal energy, solar electric energy, wind power, hydro- or water power, geothermal (earth) energy, fuel cells and biomass energy. (EPA 2010). Other technology examples include technologies currently in use or under development, such as technologies that are producing power that are clean, renewable and sustainable, such as hydrogen fuel cells (Thompson, & Turk, 2006).
Small and large business need to get involved and become a “Greener Business”. Our society needs to establish whether the increase in efficient technology is resulting in a decrease in consumer consumption. According to Jevons (1865), analyzes new whether new technology created actually reduces the uptake of natural resources and whether or not it results in less or more consumption. In addition, it analyzes where there is an increase in demand due to the effectiveness of the new technology and the effectiveness of the new products made from the technology. Furthermore, it analyzes whether or not there is an increase or decrease in profits. (Sweezy, 1989) Therefore, most businesses are not excited to go green as they are more interested in making money; however, if business “Think Big and Act Small”, there are programs available for companies and business that want to get involved and become more environmentally. These programs are offered by the EPA, federal, state and local agencies and provide both financial and technological assistance.
Green Technology, or more commonly known as “GT”, incorporates methods and materials and techniques that generate low energy and low waste products and consumption. The impact of GT reduces environmental damage created by different products and technologies that consumers use for convenience. A study completed by the United Nations explained a link between applying technologies with environmental-friendly agriculture in the reduction of rural environmental concerns (UNESCAP). In addition, renewable energy technology has been recognized as an alternative to older less environmental friendly technology, as the technology shows a substantial improvement in quality and conservation. This type of technology is good for our society because it can not only be used by manufacturing companies, it can be used in household for cooking, lighting, gardening, and so on. (UNESCAP). Furthermore, other types of technology for agriculture have showed that plants planted using environmental friendly techniques have helped sustain carbon in fertilizers and soil. (UNESCAP)
Calculating a footprint demonstrates how much land area it takes to support an individual’s lifestyle. Each individual footprint is dependent on environmental choices such as the type of car they drive or if they recycle or reuse products. In addition, the footprint is influenced by more indirect choices such as political choices, green technology and social aspects. In calculating a footprint, one can determine the largest are of resource consumption. Finding out this footprint calculation can lead to ideas on how to tread more lightly on earth. To calculate a footprint, there are multiple websites to do this, such as the Global Footprint Network.
Our society is trying to make improvements with conservation of energy and the use of renewable energy sources; however, the Jevons paradox remains applicable to our modern capitalist society. We want to buy the new technology without recycling the old technology, which is turn, is profiting the technology companies, but producing mass consumption for which our Earth cannot withstand. Economic growth, therefore, can encourage larger amounts of consumption to a point where it is detrimental to our Earth (Thompson, & Turk, 2006). Even with some green technology improvements, we are still seeing environmental impacts such as global warming threatening our society and the future of our planet Earth.
The Earth does not have an unlimited supply of natural resources. Our society is responsible for learning, educating and striving to change individuals, small businesses and large businesses to follow an environmentalist approach. “Think Big, Act Small” should be a global slogan for consumers. We need to stress, as a society, the importance of a “Greener” way of life. The government needs to enforce more federal and state policies to focus on businesses practicing green methods, such as the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) as well as focus on pushing businesses to produce Green Technology (GT). They are already offering financial help and support to business, small and large, which want to become a more eco-friendly facility. It is also up to the individual to live a greener lifestyle and support the need for conservation.
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