Letter: More than baby steps

In his editorial last week, the publisher said: “We have two choices in the face of environmental degradation. The first is to feel like we humans are all hospice patients just waiting for the inevitable, apocalyptic end. The other is to take action – countermeasures, albeit small but still meaningful to try to combat the planet’s ecological destruction largely caused by our own suicidal actions.”

I heartily agree with that statement and the “baby steps” he goes on to outline. I would add more and bigger steps.

But first let me lay down some dots to connect, and only a few, that may help to convince skeptics that he is right but that we must also work collectively on a bigger stage. Currently, the oceans are becoming more acidic which may lead to the extinction of many small organisms that our seafood depends on. Our coral reefs are being killed by acidification, among other human causes, and this destroys habitat that is breeding ground for that same seafood we have come to love.

The air we breathe is more polluted which leads to many illnesses and premature death along with acid rain that kills trees and other flora that absorbs the carbon we spew into the atmosphere. No need to say much about global warming. At a minimum, we are a major cause as most environmental scientists have documented. Vital water resources are becoming depleted or polluted and many can’t or won’t be replenished and restored within many human lifetimes. World forests are being decimated which leads to many tragic consequences: less flora to absorb carbon dioxide; extinction of plant and animal species, part of the food chain that sustains us; drastic changes in rainfall patterns that can lead to huge food production drops and deserts popping up; dwindling places of scenic beauty that our spirits require for inspiration and solace.

So what more can we do? There are groups, governmental and non-governmental, that work daily at many levels to help reduce and turn back the degradation we have caused since we moved out of our small tribes millennia ago. Look close to home: RCCA, RLEP, RappFLOW and PEC. Then look to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, for example. And finally to groups such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Nature Conservancy, Defenders of Wildlife, our state agencies, and, yes, our federal agencies such as the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Forest Service. It is not just about money but volunteering time, using those organizations to educate yourselves, your children and skeptical friends, and supporting them through your elected representatives. “Baby steps” and “bigger steps” go hand in hand.

Ralph Bates

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