“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” Edward Abbey
While the earth is very durable, man's ability to live on it and sustain a good life is more limited. Those who live in cities often forget that their life there is not self-sustaining. In countries like the United States, many things impact our ability to live with a life similar to what we have known-- ability to produce food is only one-- transporting it to the consumer is another. They all involve environment.
Not to make any one key issue more important, I'll start with water because it's so often under assault both for pollution but also how some want to own it. Recently in the Columbia River Gorge, a small town voted to not allow a big corporation to own a spring. Jobs that it would have brought were outweighed by concern to protect the water. Is the question decided? Those things rarely are.
"Water is blue gold; it's terribly precious," Maude Barlow, chair of the Council of Canadians, told the Monitor. “Not too far in the future, we're going to see a move to surround and commodify the world's fresh water. Just as they've divvied up the world's oil, in the coming century, there's going to be a grab."
Years ago California looked toward Oregon's rivers to solve a potential shortage looming for their lawns, agriculture, golf courses, and even drinking. It was put down by Oregon, but California's thirst for water has dried up some of its own agricultural areas-- while other such regions consider water cheap compared to improving their usage of it. Canals stretch down the state to bring water to more populated areas as well as agriculture-- but those canals are dependent on rain or snowfall enough to fill the reservoirs from where they flow.
Nebraska's legislature had to make a law not allowing any water to be taken out of its state, including by truck, to protect the Ogallala Aquifer because they feared Denver would take so much that it would drain the aquifer. Relatively arid states like Colorado are always looking for more sources of water, and it often comes at the expense of agriculture. How people plan to eat in the future is of little concern for those who think their food comes from a grocery store.
Because it's mostly in the states and counties where these issues are settled, this is where voters need to pay attention and vote their interests-- whatever those might be.
The federal government is theoretically more invested in air and water quality for safety, and yet as Flint, Michigan found out the hard way, you can't count on them for checking what the states are doing. They should be able to but too often have not.
Another big (potentially the biggest) environmental issue is, of course, climate change, which some deny is happening while others think the sky is going to fall tomorrow. The statistics are hard to come by because some are projections. Mankind has a pretty short recorded history; so scientist rely on geologic and biologic evidence of the past, which they must interpret.
To me, if the federal government has any responsibility to its citizens, it ought to be their safety. If the seas rise, if storms increase in ferocity, if droughts become more widespread, if migration of peoples becomes a reality in more than a few places, if cities are destroyed because of their proximity to the seas, you'd think there'd be plans in place or even steps being taken to deal with what could become a huge humanitarian crisis and not just in places like Bangladesh.
Climate change and actually the whole issue of the environment shows up in Presidential platforms but hasn't been in the debates, which is too bad. While one candidate, the Democrat, does believe in climate change, would be putting measures in place regarding cleaner forms of energy. The other candidate wants more coal production and would back the XL Pipeline because he doesn't worry about oil spills into our rivers and lakes. He should. The federal government has done nothing to deal with the concerns of Native American neighbors of a pipeline that they fear will damage their water source not only in the construction but the leaks later.
Is it possible to vote for someone who will care, or in the end, are our current leaders not that much different in what they do regarding the environment?
The earth impacts every part of human society, and of course, some of that is out of our control. For me, environment is a big issue in terms of for whom I vote-- state and federal. Loving wilderness, open spaces, wildlife, and personally living an agricultural lifestyle, I am very invested in Gaia.
Gaia involves a concept that says organisms interact with their surroundings, including inorganic and in a sort of a synergistic complex system that helps perpetuate conditions for life on this planet. When the earth gets out of balance, it will work to correct that-- often not in ways humans will like. We should be helping it stay in balance just out of self-interest.
"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached
to the rest of the world." John Muir