A National Strategy for
Environmental and Economic Stability
Meeting our Obligations to Ourselves and our Posterity
In 1996, Warren Christopher, then Secretary of State under the Clinton Administration, gave a speech at Stanford University. To the surprise of many, Christopher stated that he believed global climate change would be the most important threat to the United States in the twenty-first century*.
At the time, the audience - and the country and the world as a whole - was enveloped in problems they saw as much more serious than global climate change, but Christopher was adamant. He recognized how climate change would influence international conflicts, terrorism, economic fluctuations, energy policies, environmental degradation and even social and religious attitudes in the years to come.
The U.S. is now coping with the world Mr. Christopher anticipated.
Global climate change, attributable largely to society’s dependence upon fossil fuels, is indeed affecting all other problems nationally and internationally.
The impact on our economy and our environment has been profound, and it is becoming more evident that meaningful changes in how we manage ourselves and our resources are necessary if we are to take our obligations to future generations—our posterity—seriously.
The following represent some management strategies which would help facilitate such changes:
1. Encourage, fund, develop and implement programs that promote regional scale application of renewable energy and the sequestration of greenhouse gases, while facilitating the reduction of fossil fuel consumption.
2. Encourage, fund, develop and implement programs that reduce the impact of sea level rise anticipated with global climate change.
3. Sound and comprehensive scientific review and long-term economic analysis should be applied to land to be “developed” for housing, commercial agriculture, industry, recreation or other activities. This review and analysis should include a detailed evaluation of the impact of planned, existing and alternative activities; the long-term economic impact of consumption of finite resources; benefits which would result from environmental rehabilitation, including high-value job creation and increase in property values and tourism; the protection of critical resources such as groundwater and surface waters, fisheries, wildlife, and atmosphere; sustainable agriculture related to environmental restoration; and the long-term value of recovering and recycling discarded resources such as phosphorus. Actions may and should include consideration of removal of any existing infra-structure which degrades critical environmental features, with the subsequent reclamation of such features.
If this review and analysis has determined that the “development” is deleterious to a stable economy and critical environmental features, eminent domain or negotiated direct purchase should be applied to secure and reclaim these lands so that they contribute to the welfare of vital ecosystems and society in general—both present and future.
4. Encourage, fund, develop and implement programs that eliminate or substantially reduce threats to human health and safety, including the management of human activities associated with air pollution and water pollution.
5. Encourage and provide incentives for recycling of solid wastes and the reduction of bio-resistant packaging, such as polyethylene, and replacement with biodegradable materials.
6. Eliminate the hunting of critical species such as the Black Bear, and use eminent domain or negotiated direct purchase to secure lands which would allow expansion and connection of habitat for these species. Providing such habitats and corridors will encourage species diversity and an improved predator-prey balance, and a higher degree of sustainability**.
7. For many lakes, rivers and estuaries which are stressed from heavy nutrient loading and accumulation, place multiple kidney type treatment systems to remove, recover and reuse sediment stored nutrients (legacy nutrients), while also continuing to reduce loads from the contributing watershed, e.g. Agricultural associated nutrient pollution to the Mississippi River which is a major contributor to the growing “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.
8. To the extent practical, replace the widespread use of herbicides with mechanical harvesting of aquatic plants from waterways. Conduct meaningful bioassays on all pesticides and herbicides which are targeted for application, to include any associated moieties, adjuvants and surfactants used in their delivery, with such bioassays to include beneficial algal species, such as the green microalgae Selenastrum capricornutum, in addition to the vertebrate and invertebrate animal species typically tested.
9. Refill canals and eliminate water control structures as necessary to recover historical flow patterns.
10. Encourage the replacement in both public and privately owned lands of highly subsidized landscaping with native landscaping and xeriscaping (i.e. low water requirements).
11. Provide subsidies to individuals, farms and industry which use phosphorus and nitrogen recycled from impaired surface waters.
12. Provide subsidies to industries which develop and implement packaging with biodegradable materials.
13. In situations in which water quality standards including Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) have not been achieved, consider restrictions on future development.
14. Consider placing TMDL compliance as a condition within Comprehensive Land Management Plans.
15. In regions in which septic tanks are at a density higher than that scientifically shown to protect water quality or human health, consider restrictions on future development.
16. Consider placing septic tank removal from high density areas, and replacement with effective regional wastewater systems, as a condition within Comprehensive Land Management Plans.
17. Proceed to design and implement, using good engineering practices, and sound scientific rationale, combined wetland/open water impoundments as emulations of historical floodplains.
18. Reconsider road design in critical floodplain areas, where such roads would be impediments to necessary flow patterns or would interfere with wildlife corridors. This would include the possibility of replacing stretches of existing roads with elevated roads and bridges.
19. Purchase through eminent domain or negotiated direct purchase mineral rights within National Preserves and other lands where extraction of such minerals would be injurious to the long-term stability of the economy and critical environmental features.
20. Grant to traditional aboriginal indigenous people their rightful use of lands as granted by the past agreements and treaties, without interference or unauthorized use or entry by others.
21. Establish recovered nutrient buy-back programs and regional stormwater utilities based upon large watershed boundaries and give the utility authority to impose fees based upon pollutant contributions to procure required funding for facilities’ capital and operation.
22. Encourage, fund, develop and implement programs that promote reduction, recovery, and recycling of solid waste, and innovative methods and materials to eliinate non-biodegradable maerials such as plastics.
The time has arrived for all people to pause and consider the welfare of future generations—our posterity.
It is neither morally acceptable, nor legally defensible to knowingly damage, disrupt or destroy elements of our world for short-term financial gain for the few at the expense of our future generations.
Decisions must be based upon scientific evidence, not political whim or short-term profit. There are critical environments associated with our nation that are vital to quality of life, a healthy and sustainable economy, and a spiritual balance.
Our lands and waters must be protected, restored and sustained for ourselves and our posterity.
* “Bush and Global Warming; Letting Cooler Heads Prevail” National Post, by S. Fred Singer, March 17, 2001 www.nationalpost.com
** E.O. Wilson notes in his recent book Half-Earth (Liverwright Publishing Corporation, New York, NY 2016) pg. 185. “The crucial factor in the life and death of species is the amount of suitable habitat left to them”