The initiative of a green environment is a fairly recent social trend that centers on the use of earth-friendly alternatives to conventional ways of doing business. In the area of energy utilization, for example, the green environment concept advocates for the use of energy resources that are renewable and does not pose any risk to the environment. A few examples are hydroelectric and geothermal power plants over conventional coal-fired power plants or those that burn diesel or natural gas.
The birth of the green environment can be traced to the late 70s and early 80s, ironically, through advances in science and technology. Prior to this period, the push amongst many companies and governments was for mass production of goods in order so sustain economic growth. Economic growth begets a higher standard of living which was what everyone was craving for.
When science fostered a deeper understanding of the effects that were caused by wanton abuse in the utilization of natural resources, the young roots of the green environment movement started to grow. It is during this time that more people began to clamor for alternative methods to natural resource utilization or at least an equal focus to renewing and reviving depleted resources. Governments started paying attention to legislation that would restrict the activities of many companies. Laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Logging Ban, and Proper Land Use Act established the limits with which companies can mine or harvest natural resources. Suddenly, there was a need for logging companies to plant trees while cutting mature ones, or only limiting the cutting activities to one area and sparing critical habitats from any more abuse and exploitation.
It was also during this time that environmental agencies such as the EPA started to conduct random audits on the compliance of companies to recently passed laws. Mining companies in particular were hardest hit in the mid-90s when stricter regulations meant that old methods were not usable anymore. Gold mining for example which relied heavily on the use of Mercury to separate the gold from the ore was banned because it released toxic levels of Mercury to bodies of water that can eventually be ingested by humans. Rehabilitation methods began to come up, especially for companies that are involved in open-pit mining activities where extensive ecosystems are disturbed and many animals are relocated. Now, the regulation calls for these companies to re-plant and re-forest a “consumed” area before they can fully disengage from their responsibilities there. No longer it is possible for a company to just “eat and run” without ensuring that was is left behind is a land area that is suitable for animals to come back to and re-grow their population.
The second wave of the green environment movement came in the early 2000s fueled by grave concerns on conservation, solid waste issues, air and water pollution, and climate change. Today, most companies employ some form of green initiative to help in the promotion of a green environment. Biodegradable plastic bags are starting to be used and in some cases, there are counties and countries that are banning the use of plastic bags altogether in favor of more manageable paper bags. A great number of materials are also manufactured from recycled sources. Better natural resource utilization methods have been developed as well as the improvement in the efficiency of utilizing raw materials so that raw material volumes can be reduced without impacting production.
The last step to a green environment which up to now is still only a dream relies on the further advancement of science and technology to develop earth-friendly materials and methods. Only when we can harmoniously co-exist with the environment by maintaining the same standard of living without the issues of pollution, animal extinction, climate change, energy sustainability, land use, and many others can we truly consider ourselves to be living in a green environment. Until then, every effort will be a piece-meal lobbying for moderation without a real eye for sustainable or prevention. We’re still at the stage where we’re only beginning to understand the consequences of what we are doing.
Will we get there in time before things become too grave it will be too late to reverse the effects? That’s one question science and governments currently do not have an answer for. The best thing we can do is practice being green in each of our ways via conserving electrical energy by turning off unused appliances, patronizing recycled products over new ones, carpooling to reduce car emissions or biking instead of driving a car, and many other small efforts can hopefully contribute in our effort for a green environment. For now, that’s the only thing we can do. Let’s hope that will be sufficient.