More questions than answers: 'Green' equals science, accountability, responsible development

Voices Of The State

Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's a small world after all. Global warming, climate change and soaring energy costs are the frequent subjects of no little debate these days, and right they should be. Trying to establish who to blame is easy. It is obviously everyone else except me.

If these issues were viewed as assets instead of liabilities, there probably would be no end to the individuals and entities lining up to take credit for their creation. Since that is not the case, I herewith offer a few fleeting thoughts on who actually are the most environmentally conscious folks on this planet.

Although some people seem to have all of the answers, I seem to have mostly questions.

1) Will humankind likely consume more or less in the coming years?

2) Comparing environmental standards in the United States to other countries ,such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, China, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Argentina, Pakistan and myriad of others, are our U.S. standards more or less stringent environmentally?

3) Assuming the environmental requirements for development are the same, worldwide, are the enforcement procedures and recourses more or less assured in the United States?

4) In many countries the nation itself is the developer of certain resources, like oil and gas, minerals, timber, etc. If resources are developed by a country's government, which also is the enforcer of its environmental policies, where are the restraints and the citizens' forum to insure proper evaluation, review and protection of the environment?

China alone, with more than 1.3 billion people, is home to more than 20 percent of Earth's population. As an emerging country, with an insatiable appetite for resources, its demands for energy, raw materials and other resources could grow exponentially. The law of supply and demand will find ready producers to meet their needs, as well as the rest of the world's consumers.

Before you conclude that China is our problem, let me assure you I neither advocate unmitigated development, nor careless extraction of our natural resources to meet worldwide demands.

What I am implying, is that our great country, with strict regulations and a people's forum for input through the Environmental Impact Statement process, is less likely to do global harm in the extracting of our oil, gas, minerals, fish, timber and other resources, than those countries either devoid of such constraints or lacking effective enforcement mechanisms.

I would even venture so far as to suggest that those who, under the guise of being "green" imply we cannot develop responsibly, are, in reality, promoting unmitigated pollution and global environmental harm by pushing the supply machine into areas without restraint, regulation or review.

Bottom line: Let us diligently, carefully and wisely develop our own resources, when that development can meet our permit standards and not, by default, cause careless regimes to further pollute our planet by irresponsible resource extraction. Perhaps the "greenest" person of all is the one who demands thorough science, provides for full accountability and insists on responsible development in a country where there is a rule of law.

If this is true, then paint me "green." This planet is so small if anyone pollutes, we all pay.

Glen Alsworth Sr. is president of Lake Clark Air and The Farm Lodge on Lake Clark. He's been the mayor of the Lake and Peninsula Borough since 1989 and lives in Port Alsworth with his wife, four children and 17 grandchildren.

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