What environmental responsibilities do we have to the rest of the world? What obligations do we have to future generations?
As the world’s sole superpower, I feel we bear the responsibility of leading the charge to combat, prevent and reverse the effects of global warming. We should invest in and improve technologies and processes of producing green, renewable energy in order to show the rest of the world that it can be done and how to do it. Now, thinking back to our previous discussion about dumping waste materials in developing countries, I firmly believe that we as a nation should also find ways to recycle our own materials rather than pawn them off on others who don’t have the ability to resist. Learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle efficiently can have a major impact on the environment in a positive way all by itself.
Now, in regards to what obligations we have to future generations, I think it goes without saying that we owe them the world…literally. We may not have caused all the problems we face today, but we are definitely contributing to them and it is entirely possible for us to find the solutions to them. We shouldn’t simply say oh well and pass these issues on as they will only get more complicated and difficult to solve or prevent. If you have kids of your own, I’m sure you don’t want them to grow up in an environment that can harm or kill them by entirely preventable issues such as contaminated water, air, food or what they are exposed to simply by stepping outside.
Who should pay the cost for protecting the environment — those responsible for causing the pollution or those who stand to benefit from protection and restoration?
In regards to this question, I say that both must pay. Perhaps not equally in a 50/50 split, but I’d say in a 70/30 split with those responsible for pollution paying a larger chunk. This would serve to punish those who commit environmental wrongs and may persuade them to seek routes that are cleaner and avoid financial punishment. Those who stand to gain should also have “skin in the game” and pay a portion of the cost as this is not a solution that can be achieved by any one group alone. We must all be vested in the success and implementation of greener policies that will benefit everyone on Earth.