People are constantly defending, acquiring resources, and searching for resources. As natural resources professions and citizens, it is imperative that everyone understands the key belief systems and philosophical tenants of those categorized within the broad environmental movement. Individuals and organizations with such and similar beliefs form important participants and stakeholders in natural resources management and conservation decisions. Resource defense activities spur a wide gamut of alleged threat proximity; mostly associated with modern socio-political systems. Resources defense is based on a philosophy that to prevent environmental overload, resources depletion, and environmental degradation requires a consistent effort to reduce unnecessary use and waste of energy resources and matter, control human population, and prevent the extinction of any species prematurely (Latanision et al., 2014). Environmental activism has become a valuable part of our modern social fabric and active more so by bringing many issues to light. Protests, for instance, have challenged the authority of entrenched interests and forced important environmental protection initiatives. Environmental activists are motivated by their strong will to protect the environment by refuting the mere state of complaining about such problems, but instead working to bring their vision and dream of a better, friendlier world into reality.
Environmental conflicts and concerns have surfaced throughout human history. America has had a long but complex relationship with nature (Greco, 2007). One the major concerns has been on the devastating speed at which the nation’s resources have been exploited; fouling the water and air with pollutants, clearing forests and killing wildlife. On the other hand, a section of responsible citizens has also been active in fighting to protect the environment for more than a century. In the late 19th and early 20th century, three different types of environmental problems became matters of public debate (Greenwald, 2012). First was the prospect that the nation would soon run out of basic and vital natural resources such as wood. To ensure that the future generations would have adequate sufficient supplies of essential raw materials, people increasingly joined “the conservation movement’. Secondly, there was the issue of the fate of the wilderness with calls for underdeveloped land of great natural beauty to be preserved. The third concern was pollution; a horrible and annoying threat to the health in the fast-growing cities (Webb, 2009). This threat resulted in far-reaching initiatives to improve the urban environment.
McKibben, (2013) contends that the modern day environmental movement built on these earlier efforts to preserve wilderness, conserve natural resources and control pollution. The environmental movement, however, gained momentum especially after the World War II. As the economy boomed, the newly affluent Americans became more aware of and less willing to accept environmental deprivation as the price of progress. For instance, new technologies; from chemical pesticides to atomic energy brought about new environmental hazards. Consequently, popularization of the ecological ideas gave many citizens an appreciation of the risks to manipulating and transforming nature. Environmental pollution especially in the major cities of the world continues to be an issue of major concern. For instance, Chinese scientists recently warned that the country’s toxic pollution is currently so bad it resembles a nuclear winter (Greco, 2007).
Beijing and six Northern provinces have recently experienced several days blanketed in a very dense pea-soup smog (Rana, 2013). Beijing’s concentration of the PM 2.5 particles, which can penetrate into the lungs and to enter the bloodstream, hit a record 505, with a prior reading going up to 750 in the past months according to the U.S. embassy in Beijing who have been monitoring the condition. This is an alarming level of air pollution way above the safe level of 25 recommended by the World Health organization. Apparently, the Chinese economy has already started feeling the clinch of the effects of this pollution with grounding of flights, deterring of tourists, and closing of highways (Greenwald, 2012). Persistent of the situation would also have dire effects on the agriculture, as well as health risks posed, to inhabitants of these areas.
The big question to this issue is whether the prolonged pollution at these severe levels, now a frequent occurrence, can be controlled. Experts strongly believe that the situation can be combated. However, the major challenge in this is that the bad air also creates good business, a situation many businessmen are willing to exploit. During the worst of the air in January 2013, about one hundred thousand air masks were sold in Beijing every day. The booming bad air business can be blamed to the governments reluctant to admit that China has a big pollution problem. In response to the growing public pressure, Beijing in 2012 started monitoring and publishing its own AQI readings. For the first time, the government also issued emergency warnings and allowed the pollution to be covered by the state owned television. The Chinese AQI scale is slightly different from the use being used by the U.S. Embassy (Rana, 2013).
Throughout the bad air scare in Beijing recently, there was no protest at all to demand the government to take action and clean up the air (Greenwald, 2012). Beijing did not even rank among the top ten worst polluted cities in China. Back in February 2013, one of the Chinese courts found 16 protesters guilty of charges of property damage and theft. The protesters were arrested during an environmental demonstration that turned rowdy in the Qidong City opposing plans to construct a pipeline to carry waste from one of the paper factories. They were sentenced to up to one and half years in prison (Rana, 2013). According to Latanision et al., (2014) Americans are equally concerned about the effects of global warming as demonstrated by a study conducted by EarthDay Network. The study indicates that well over 50 percent of Americans citizens are extremely concerned about the current global warming effects it has on their lives. This concerned was also likely to a great extent to influence their political decisions in selecting a presidential candidate deemed more active in addressing the issue. The motivation to address the issue is also demonstrated by the high number also willing to change their personal habits to solve global warming. There have also been calls among a section of environmental activists to stop air travel or come up with better ways to manage air pollution in the sector, seen as the single most carbon intensive undertaking one can take.
The problem of pollution has become a thorn in the flesh for many governments who choose to reluctance to admit the existence of the problem. Most governments are seen to lack the commitment to start initiatives and projects to address the problem of environmental degradation and global warming (Greenwald, 2012). The culture being created especially among the young generation is one of the ecophobia, a state of mind that spurs fear of the looming environmental problems due to a perception that nothing that could help address it. This situation is already common among many Chinese as evidenced by lack of protests even in the midst of such catastrophic pollution situations (Weart, 2007). The government uses fear to counter any attempts for such campaigns partly because they are not willing to take their responsibility in addressing the issue. As environmental activists and teachers in this field, an approache that can be employed to counter such threats is the use of new approaches to the problem. An example is the use of the Five Small Steps to Reduce Our Environmental Footprint. The activity requires students five personal behaviors negatively affecting the environment and consequently find five ways to change them and be more eco-friendly (Mark & Molly, 2011).
Environmental activists in China have also turned to new approaches to the problem as demonstrated by one Ma Jun, China’s foremost environmental activist, through his bottom up approach. Mr. Ma has launched a politically contentious campaign to influence the country’s state-owned enterprises, seen as the most contributors to the pollution dilemma. Through his playbook explains how to cleverly co-opt the technocratic tendencies and tap into the concerns of the growing middle class. Ma has found a creative and effective way forward. Rather than battling with the government, an approach that rarely works in China; he has embraced data from the government as a tool. He cut a deal to expose China’s records about pollution caused by western firms online, then used the information to quietly pressure these companies. The results have by far been remarkable (Weart, 2007). For instance, a report on Apple in 2011 resulted in a major initiative to clean up environmental violations in its supply chain. Civilization may have the greater role in causing these problems, but it equally, stands the chance to address it.
Scientific advances have changed the way we receive, analyze and react to information. The current generation is much more informed meaning that these scientific advancements could also be utilized effectively to bring about change in the current trends. As a result, societies and governments have been reported to be responding. What is required is that the response is more swift and sustainable initiatives to deal with the risk of environmental degradation and global warming. This can only happen when there are joint efforts between the different stakeholders in mobilizing our ingenuity community spirit for long-term solutions.
The efforts to address environmental degradation are not without opposition. The idea of air travel ban is highly refuted by proponents of globalization and tourism. They argue that globalization is an unstoppable and irreversible process. In this regard human are to remain flying for business, pleasure, and other reasons. The idea of banning air travel may be a difficult one in the modern times and era. However, given the devastating air pollution effects it has there is a need for this sector to urgently address the problem by coming up with measures of cutting the current admissions by a big percentage.
The issue of environmental degradation is a sensitive one across all nations of the world. There is a need for individuals, communities, and individuals to participate actively in efforts geared towards a safer world for the coming generations. Environmental activism as such puts individuals into perspective of the wider scheme of actualization, reality, and maturity and in realizing that we are in essence all interconnected with natural processes. Global warming, for instance, poses a great risk that neccessitates urgent change in the basis of the world economy. Governments, multinational manufacturing corporations, middle level industries, communities, and individuals need to join efforts in reducing the carbon footprint in the different levels of production.
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