NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION TIME AGAIN
by Whit Gibbons
January 1, 2006
As I say
every year, everyone should incorporate the environment into their New
Year’s resolutions. Doing so should not be viewed as an imposition.
For one thing, any schoolchild knows that healthy lives have a direct
correlation with healthy ecosystems. So, any educated adult should be
willing to make an environmental pledge to assure that something positive
happens, or something negative does not. The first four environmental
resolutions should be easy for anyone, but for some people the fifth may
be a hard one.
to support environmental education at local schools. What better group
to teach about the importance of healthy environments? One way to contribute
is to donate your time to a school science program that focuses on ecology.
Taking children on outdoor field trips, even in the vicinity of the school,
is an activity where today’s school programs fall far short. Ask
the science teacher what field trips are planned and if you can help by
being a class chaperone. If you are unable to invest time, offer to provide
something for the classroom, such as a natural history book or subscription
to a nature magazine.
to take a long walk through natural habitat--a local wooded area, around
a lake, or alongside a stream. Most state and some city parks are excellent
places to find wildlife, especially in spring. Look carefully at the diversity
of plants, including small flowers and mushrooms, and at animals, especially
insects. Look under rocks and logs. You will become more appreciative
of the exciting life all around you.
to watch an animal in your yard to observe its behavior for at least 10
minutes. Squirrels are fun to watch, but many insects and spiders have
interesting behaviors, too. Just watch it to see what it does. You may
have to wait for warm weather to find a good target species.
a tree, shrub, or other plant in your yard or neighborhood and read about
it on a reputable Web site sponsored by a university, museum, or government
agency, or in an encyclopedia, nature magazine, or book. Learning about
the ecology and geographic distribution of a species will make you appreciate
it for the rest of your life.
5. And now
the hard one. Resolve to have an open mind about the issue of overpopulation.
This last resolution will seem like a no-brainer for some people but almost
impossible to do for others. Yet, this is the most important resolution
of all, because it relates to the single-most pervasive cause of environmental
problems--we have too many people in our country and the world. Think
of an environmental problem, and you can see that it would be lessened
if we had a smaller population. The destruction of tropical rainforest
and old-growth forests? We could have sustainable forest programs to produce
wood products if we did not keep having more and more people demanding
them. Air and water pollution? People are the root cause of both, and
the more people we have the more pollution will follow. Environmental
destruction that would result from Arctic oil fields and off-shore drilling?
The dwindling energy sources that lead to such recommendations are directly
correlated with an expanding population that requires more energy at an
anyone not want to consider overpopulation with an open mind? This has
never been clear to me, for we all know the alternative of not addressing
a problem with an open mind. All that is being asked with this resolution
is that each person take the first step of understanding that overpopulation
is a problem, but one with solutions. If after reviewing the facts you
cannot accept by the end of the year that overpopulation is bad for the
environment and for the humans living on earth, then at least you fulfilled
your resolution to have an open mind. If you end up the year accepting
overpopulation as a problem, then next year we can begin to talk about
some extremely important resolutions that are the next steps for solving
you have an environmental question or comment, email