When it comes to studying the impacts of human activity on the planet, the majority of scientific evidence points to degradation, from worsening weather conditions (including enduring drought) to unexpected extinction of animal species to coral bleaching and beyond. The list of negative effects is practically endless. This in turn leads to declining quality of life for all, especially for people in developing countries. There are countless efforts by caring people to address these issues, calling for and enacting all sorts of new policies and legislation mandating care and concern with the long-term in mind; but still, problems persist and worsen. It doesn’t help that many do not feel there are manmade problems to address, including the president. It is an uphill battle that can be wearisome to even the most dedicated environmental advocate, so much so that apathy and self-centeredness can take over.
Along with the disappointing environmental news comes the serious struggle just to keep up with all that is expected in everyday life, including escalating costs of gas, housing, food, etc. Staying focused on reducing personal carbon footprints, recycling at every turn, planting trees, et al, may be the least of many people’s concerns. Thankfully, there are several Ventura County residents who cannot be moved from their pursuit of a healthier planet, starting at a homegrown grassroots level.
This week’s feature, “Climate Action Report,” showcases the work of area nonprofits, municipal government, politicians and individuals who dedicate time and energy to scaling back carbon emissions on a local level — which alters the overall impact on a global level. It is rather impressive to witness the commitment of these individuals to do what they can in the hopes of improving the status quo before the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock hits midnight — it currently stands at two minutes till the midnight hour. Rachel Bronson, Ph.D., the president of Bulletin, wrote in Jan. 24, “It is still 2 minutes to midnight . . . This new abnormal is a pernicious and dangerous departure from the time when the United States sought a leadership role in designing and supporting global agreements that advanced a safer and healthier planet.”
It is undoubtedly difficult to comprehend what impact it will have if we each individually decide to do things a little differently. But first and foremost, we must go out and enjoy nature locally. We must recognize the magnificence of life growing all around us, which is at a wondrous peak of green abundance, an unusual sight after prolonged drought coupled with the aftermath of the Thomas, Hill and Woolsey fires. We must seek to experience nature’s bounty, visiting the local harbors, relaxing on the beach, listening to the ocean and going on nature hikes. Once we have a fair fill of nature, then we must try to understand that it is not just what nature can do for us, but how to balance natural gifts with mindfulness, to ensure that those gifts will endure for many generations to come. That also includes finding reasonable ways to improve the lives of those who are struggling so that they, too, can contribute to being better environmental advocates versus simply staying focused on personal issues of the day.
It’s certainly a tightrope walk to put nature and others first, but if we don’t, then what will the outcome be in the next 20 years? If we think the news is bad now, just sit around and do nothing and watch as the headlines become even more startling.