Friday, July 18, 2008

Unit 4 Ethical Essay: World Resource Use

You and Me

Energy consumption, population growth, conservation, recycling. They are all such complex topics. How do we best help ourselves and our precious land. What do we do now so that we do not leave our descendents with an unfixable situation. It seems many of the solutions that are discovered to help us conserve our resources are later found to be damaging in a way that was at first not considered. Take, for instance, the practice of recycling. I know that I feel good when I recycle. I know that I am reducing the amount of material that will be dumped in the local landfill. But do my actions result in a net benefit for the environment? I do not have recycling pick up at my house. I have to drive to Sun Dog Ranch Road to drop it off. From there, I'm sure some big diesel burning garbage truck delivers all of the recyclables to processing plant. How far does that truck have to travel beforing reaching the processing plant? Do some goods get delivered to one plant and the others to a different plant? How much energy and other valuable resources do the processing plants have to expend to break my recyclables down into a reusable form? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do wonder, do we end up with a net benefit or not? Again, these are hugely complex topics with no simple solutions.

Recycling is big here in the US and hopefully in all of the other developed countries of the world. Do they have recycling progroms in 3rd world countries? I am sure they do not. They also do not have individually packaged granola bars and disposable toilet bowl brushes. So the problems that we face today must vary by region and country. The US and other industrialized countries have focused on reducing population growth to a sustainable level. 3rd world countries have not. Should they? Absolutely. Although energy consumption per person is so much less in those countries, so is their supply of naturaly resources. In addition, progress towards leveling off the population growth there needs to start now. We all need to do our part.

More importantly, the industrialized countries of the world need to stay focused on reducing energy consumption and finding renewable sources of energy. Subjects like these can at times feel like they are far off in the distance. They can be topics we do not need to worry about today or that we leave for someone else to worry about. I, personally, am probably not going to solve the world's energy crisis. So why do I need to think about it. The reason is simple. We all can do our part. We can all turn our air conditioner up a degree or two and our heater down a few degrees. We can all change out our incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents. Some of us can ride our bikes to school or work instead of driving our cars. We can choose paperless billing and e-statements instead of receiving paper copies every month. Ways in which each and every one of us can contribute are out there, we just need to put them into practice.

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