Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stewardship, Environmentalism, and the Battle of Interests.

"I'm not one of these fanatic environmentalists," Faupel said. "But when you are a seventh generation rancher, you are taught to be a good steward of the land . and you want the things on it, the cattle and the vegetation, to be healthy. And they're not."
The above is an excerpt from an article by the AP (link included) about the apparent detrimental effects of coal-fueled power plants on living plants. The examples used are just down the road for me and I've traveled in and through that land numerous times. The statement made by Faupel really hits the nail on the head of a battle that's been going on for decades if not longer. The progression of industrial/modern/civilized society versus the environment. But therein lies the problem. The battle's sides are confused and it tends to leave many on the fence with the natural tendency to fall on the side of short-term self-interest. The political powers that be tend to paint a two-dimensional picture of the matter but the truth is both simpler and deeper. I would submit that a majority of the population wants to live in a vibrant, healthy environment where nature and civilization thrive. We also don't want to be thrown under the bus financially or governed like we're 3-year-olds. 
The "green" movement has certainly caught on as its stated objective of conservation and stewardship is a noble one. It is, however, only able to do so as new opportunities for commerce are gradually introduced through traditional channels. We need to keep in mind those that employ us and produce much of what we've built this country on. It is vital not to just suffocate them with a blanket of regulation while we nudge those that aren't taking enough care with our shared resources towards better practices. It is also imperative that entire economies don't get founded on thin air. The incentive programs introduced over the past number of years seem to have made a good impact. They have allowed those who have the means and desire the opportunity to opt in. I think that is the key, as with many things. Ideally things would be voluntary.  
 But incentives have their downfalls too, and one could argue that they're too easily exploited. It would be better if the right choice environmentally was also the best business choice. The discrepancy often comes in the realm of priorities.

The issue of priorities is not a small one. With the growing population and demand for both natural resources and man-made ones, there is bound to be some conflict. It needs to be realized that both livelihoods and natural life are equally important and only since the modernization of our society have the two drifted apart. It would be a no-brainer if the same population in urban areas was still farming and ranching. I think that with all the factors at play, there will be need to be concessions on all sides and neither of the polar-opposite players will get exactly what they want. There is a balance and it is not easy to maintain all the time. 
We are charged with maintaining this earth as it is put in place to sustain us. The warring sides we're so familiar with come from ignoring the truth of the dependence and importance of both pieces of this ecological dilemma. Those with a passion for the earth's natural beauty in flora and fauna are right to appreciate it and those who are planning and working on ways to meet the demands of humanity are right to try and conquer the very real challenges of providing for people. 
I do think the planet is hardy but I also think we need to be conscientious in our management of it. All the while we should also keep in mind there are natural forces far beyond our capabilities that could throw everything into a whole new playing field. Considering how little control of the big picture we have, we can only focus on what is placed within our grasp for the moment.
It would be so nice if everyone could just work together and be open about challenges, mistakes, and new ideas for the future. Perhaps it is happening despite all the politics. Let's hope so, We need more healthy shady groves here in Texas.