Why Is It Important to Care About the Environment?
The ecosystem (all the communities of living organisms found in a specific place, their habitats and their interactions) in which we live provides natural services for humans and all other species that are essential to our health, quality of life and survival. For example, our forests remove carbon dioxide and other pollutants from the air we breathe and also cool our air temperatures, reducing the formation of ground-level ozone, a pollutant that can cause heart and lung problems to worsen; our wetlands store storm water, filter and make harmless storm water pollutants, and recharge our aquifers (where most of us get our drinking water) with these filtered waters; and the dune systems on our beaches form natural barriers to storm waves and provide important habitat and travel ways for wildlife.
Below are three environmental goals that are critical to achieving sustainable societies and being good environmental stewards, some of their economic, social and environmental benefits, and some of the actions we can take to achieve these goals.
||Action to Achieve Goals
|Excellent Water Quality
- Economic - boost tourism, provide catch for fishing, shrimping, oystering industries, decrease health care costs, provide environment for ecotourism industry
- Social - use of surface waters for recreation, decrease prevalence of water-borne diseases, increase quality of life, increase quality of water entering aquifers
- Environmental - preserve diversity of water dependent animals and plants, preserve various natural services of aquatic ecosystems (flood control, aquifer recharge, etc.)
- Use more pervious surfaces on all built sites to decrease storm water volume and increase infiltration
- Prohibit direct discharge of storm water to water bodies
- Increase storm water retention time in treatment ponds
- Use upland buffers around all surface water bodies to treat runoff
- Use series of treatment ponds before storm water enters water body
- Use native plants in all buffers and treatment ponds to provide pollutant breakdown and nutrient uptake
|Healthy Air Quality
- Economic - boost tourism, decrease health care costs, decrease erosion of buildings and pavement
- Social - decrease prevalence of circulatory and lung-related disease, increase quality of life for residents
- Environmental - preserves water quality by reducing acid precipitation/deposition, preserves aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity
- Develop efficient, low/no emission public transport system
- Use more pervious surfaces on built sites
- Use efficient, coordinated traffic control systems to reduce idling time
- Continue to develop efficient pathways and encourage residents and tourists to use them
- Maintain and augment the urban forest to uptake and store carbon, filter pollutants, produce oxygen and prevent ground-level ozone formation
|Preservation of Biodiversity
- Economic - boost nature-based tourism, preserve food webs that support our economy via fishing industries
- Social - provides for natural services, increase quality of life
- Environmental - preserve water and land-based ecosystems that provide natural resources and natural services, preserve energy flow throughout the biosphere
- Preserve natural habitats
- Provide safe travel ways for wildlife between habitats
- Encourage builders and residents to preserve and /or augment habitat during site development
- Discourage use of non-native, invasive plants in the landscape
- Design roadways to calm traffic and provide wildlife refuges in medians
- Use wildlife-friendly curbing or no curbing along roadways
- Encourage residents and businesses to use integrated pest management
How Can I Live a More Sustainable Life?
There are so many easy ways to become more sustainable. We are all creatures of habit, and changing our behavior takes some time. Small steps are key, and once you find how easy each is, you will be surprised how quickly you can make a positive difference in protecting our environment for your family and your planet. Please explore our webiste for tips and information on sustainability.