I am very much an environmentalist and am particularly worried about global warming and climate change. I have been especially aware of this issue after last winter of 2011-2012, which was an unusually mild winter in Saskatchewan. In Saskatoon, December and the first half of January hardly had any snow and were more like March.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan on Christmas Eve 2011
Since then, I have joined Avaaz, an online website for signing petitions. I have signed all kinds of them, including those that are not about the environment.
I also walk a lot and I ride my bike. In fact, I don’t even own a car, though once in a while, I do drive my mom’s and stepfather’s car when they are away on holiday, and I like to go for drives in the country and visit small towns. In the winter, I ride the bus. Unfortunately, however, Saskatoon has a lousy bus system. It may take one hour to take the bus from one end of town to the other! The fares are steep, too – $3.00 per ride! I am quite disturbed about how awful public transportation is in Canada and the U.S. Inadequate public transportation really contributes to global warming, since people have to rely on cars to get around. I would really like passenger train services to be comparable to those in Europe, and public transportation all over North America to be comparable to places like New York or Toronto. In other words, I strongly feel that if public transportation were feasible enough to make cars unnecessary, this would really reduce pollution.
People who read this essay, I would suggest that you contact your local transit offices regarding this matter. If buses, etc. are really expensive, as well as lousy, in your area, remind the executives that most people who use those services don’t have high-paying jobs, and that the costly fares will very likely cause the systems to lose ridership. Public transportation executives don’t even use the systems – they drive their own cars – and they have high-paying jobs, so they can’t understand how difficult it is for riders. If I were in charge, public transportation executives wouldn’t even be allowed to own cars, so they would have to rely on the routes they organize.
Walking and cycling also really reduce pollution, and I really wish people would do more of those things. If you live in a small town, SERIOUSLY consider walking. You don’t need to drive! And if you live in a city that’s not very walkable and/or if you live in a neighbourhood or community that lacks sidewalks and/or has streets that dead-end or circle, PLEASE write to your local council and state that you want sidewalks, catwalks, etc. Bicycle paths and lanes along busy streets are something to seriously consider as well.
And if you don’t have very far to go, especially if you live in a neighbourhood that has sidewalks, parks, and plenty of through streets, WALK! Don’t drive!
Another serious devastator of the environment is deforestation and destroying of the countryside. If new neighbourhoods need to be built, it is possible to do so without clearing away forests. Just take away the trees where the houses, etc. will be built and leave the others up. When I lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for a year with my father and stepmother, we lived in a neighbourhood that had been woodland up until then. When we lived there, some of the woods were still there, though houses on our street were being built. However, while the street is all houses now, the developers left up many of the trees. I have recently panned my way down that street on Google Street Views on the computer and the street still looks something like woodland. It’s obvious that Wisconsin treats woodland very well.
Many indigenous tribes around the world have, for hundreds and thousands of years, done farming and building and still have surroundings of forest, jungle, etc. So developers, PLEASE put these facts into consideration! I expect you to do so! If you live in a place like Texas or Arizona, I hope what I just said will sink in, because you have a LOT of improving to do. I know about Texas because I’ve been there a jillion times. My mom and I used to go to San Antonio to visit my grandparents. Countryside I remember in the past has turned into icky suburban development and busy service roads. Arizona has undergone similar damage. For example, Payson, which was a quaint logging community in the early 1970s (we went camping nearby), had become an unrecognizable tourist centre by the early 1990s. As well, the Grand Canyon narrowly escaped being made into a reservoir in the 1960s, when ruthless developers had planned to build two dams on the Colorado River. The Sierra Club lobbied to save God’s great masterpiece.
Unfortunately, other places in Arizona were not so lucky. The majestic Glen Canyon actually did turn into a reservoir when Lake Powell was built. The Colorado River downstream from the Grand Canyon also met a pretty bad fate with other dams, including Hoover Dam.
If you live in the Phoenix area, has it occurred to you how much water you’re wasting? Like the Salt River, which got drained by dams to create those artificial lakes along the Apache Trail. Aboriginal groups living in that area really got harmed with this change. The Salt River should have been left alone! And think about how much of that precious water you’re using for swimming pools! If you want to keep cool, then build or move into houses made of adobe, like those old ones in, say, the Pueblo communities. You could also linger in an air-conditioned shopping mall, which my mom and I used to do when we lived in Arizona. Or just go to a community swimming pool!
As well, garbage services need improving in a lot of places. London, England, has excellent garbage services. I remember, in the evening, seeing litter strewn everywhere, and come the next morning, all the litter was gone. Not so other places. Saskatoon has terrible garbage services. They don’t deal with the litter on a regular basis. They should. Most cities and towns should be like London.
Air travel also contributes to global warming. If you’re planning a trip, unless, of course, it’s an overseas trip, consider taking a bus or train instead of flying. For example, if you live in Calgary and you’re travelling to Montreal, take the train instead of flying. If you live in Wisconsin and plan to go to the Carolinas, take a bus. Same thing if you live in Europe and are going somewhere else on the continent. If you live in England and are going to Spain or Portugal on holiday, TAKE THE TRAIN INSTEAD OF FLYING! If you are planning to fly, remember this: planes are the worst offenders because they release greenhouse gases high into the atmosphere.
One big thing that bugs me is when people travel to Mexico and the West Indies during the winter and keep to the tourist beach resorts. Those resorts are severely damaging the cultures of those places. If winter weather is awful where you live and you want to go, then consider exploring Mexico or whichever country in the Caribbean you intend to visit. You can just as well relax like that in your home town if you vacation at a local hotel. Otherwise, simply wait for summer and relax at a nearby lake resort in your area!
Also, if you plan to go to Mexico or the Caribbean in the winter just to relax at a beach resort, bear in mind that those are very poor areas and the money spent at those resorts doesn’t go to the poor people. And remember this: by going, you’re helping to damage those cultures. If you aren’t interested in the cultures or mingling with the locals, then DON”T GO! Simply vacation at a hotel in your area, relax at the indoor pool, and just wait for summer. The same thing about harming the cultures applies to people in northern Europe when they go to inauthentic beach resorts in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, etc. just to sun themselves on the beaches. If you live in the British Isles, simply relax on a British beach in, say, Kent or Sussex. If you are flying to those places in the Mediterranean instead of travelling overland, remember what I said about how flying hurts the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses. A return flight from Canada or the northern states to Mexico or the West Indies contributes as much to global warming as an average household’s gas and electricity consumption over a whole year.
Another thing that bothers me is that many recycling programs in condos, etc. don’t take many things that can be recycled. Here are a couple of examples in the condo building where I live.
I feel that recycling programs should include EVERYTHING that can be recycled. Like I said, I don’t own a car, so I can’t take things out to recycling bins that are several miles away. Inadequate recycling programs also contribute to global warming. So condo executives, owners of recycling plants, etc., who read this, please take this into account!
THE ENVIRONMENT DEPENDS ON YOU READERS! Liveable planets are extremely scarce, and there are no others in our solar system!