Clean up our act
Editorials - Troubled Waters, the series of articles that
concluded Monday, may have been a bitter pill for some
readers to swallow.
The investigative report by staff of The St. Catharines
Standard, a sister paper in the Osprey Media Group, came
up with little to ease the fears of Great Lakes basin
residents who have in recent years been showered by bad
news of alien invaders and pollution disasters.
Still, the experts interviewed for Monday’s final article
offered some hope that the toxic tide can be reversed.
"We’ve got solutions to most of these problems.
It’s just a matter of whether we care enough ... to implement
them," said Emily Green, director of the Sierra Club’s
Great Lakes Program.
It will take a one-two punch.
One. On the macro level, governments and industries have
to clean up their act, start dealing more effectively
with major water and air pollution sources and impose
controls against invasive species.
Two. On the micro level, each of us has to get one heck
of a lot smarter about how we use our once-abundant natural
Consume less water, for a starter. Reduce our use of
fossil fuels, to cut down on greenhouse gases that contribute
to global warming. Stand on guard against zebra mussels.
Ultimately, both of the fists that can deliver this one-two
blow for the environment belong to us.
If we don’t use some environmental common sense as individuals,
the demand for pollution-creating products will continue
to grow, about as fast as the amount of greenhouse gases
each of us spews into the environment.
We are the footsoldiers in the war on pollution; as Troubled
Waters suggests, the war is being lost.
While many of us talk the talk on reducing, reusing and
recycling, collectively we’re still an energy-guzzling,
greenhouse-gas-producing machine that’s laying waste to
the Great Lakes basin. This week’s smog alerts and warnings
of power system brownouts testify to our wastefulness.
Still, as Red Green would say, we can change, if we have
to. And clearly we do. Our ability to adapt to blue box
and yellow box programs, Christmas tree chipping and similar
recycling initiatives provides a glimmer of hope.
A major change in our mindset and our habits as citizens
would also force governments to take notice. If we don’t
prod them into action, they’re unlikely to move any faster
than they have to date. Too slow.
Surveys and polls consistently show that environmental
issues are important to voters, but politicians just as
consistently give them a low priority. One need look no
further than the Ontario government’s determination to
keep firing up its coal-burning power plants -- about
the worst thing they could do to the world’s air supply
-- until 2015.
There are two national, eight state and one provincial
government dragging their heels on pollution issues in
the Great Lakes basin. They won’t pick up their glacial
pace unless voters turn up the heat. And they won’t get
together to set uniform standards for the basin unless
public pressure forces them to do so.
It’s time for all of us to put up our dukes and fight
for the lakes.