environment, seattle

Sounds Like Bad News

The Puget Sound is dying. All our water is in trouble. It’s nothing new, when I was in elementary school we learned about lakes dying because of pollution, it doesn’t take a huge leap to realize that it’ll happen to every body of water that see regualr pollution. Bigger bodies of water, like oceans, just take longer to screw up. We already doomed the polar bear, and now it looks like fish might be goners too.

The people of Seattle are trying to save the Puget Sound, but they don’t seem to be using science which might be a problem. Politicians and the public are all invited to weigh in on the best way to save the sound. I’m not against public debate, but I sure as heck don’t want my neighbor’s idea of how ecology works to be weighed equally with how expert ecologists know it works. The goal is to restore the sound to “good health” by 2020. Considering it is approaching catatonic right now that’s a hefty mission.

The important thing to realize is that not screwing up the environment will cost us, that means making some decisions that will be unpopular. Politicians hate doing that mostly because it could cost them campaign money and votes, and there lies the problem. The thing to realize is that it’s mostly an initial cost— most of the things that help the environment are more cost effective long term. Even changes that seem to cost more will cost us less. Buffer zones and maintain (or growing) forest cover doesn’t make anyone money, but it does aid the environment which is a very limited resource.

Everytime we do something that hurts the environment less we add to the economy. When we choose to continue using oil for instance we aren’t just paying our hard earned cash for that gas at the pump, we are paying by thawing Alaska’s permafrost, we are paying by spilling oil into the ocean, by pouring pollutant’s into our air and lungs, and so much more. It adds up quickly especially as the population grows and continues our legacy of oblivious contentment.

We have to consider that expecting the science of the next generation to come up with a magic pill and fix things is stupid. We have to consider that politicians won’t do anything until they have to and that doing the right thing is rarely fun. Passing our responsibilities off only makes the problems more difficult. What’s worse is that it’s an attitude that gets passed on and so any meaningful change is resisted.

That is why people born in thirty years won’t ever see a polar bear in the wild, and that is why the Puget Sound won’t be healthy by 2020.