I think we should start by giving people some hope.
Start by being honest about some things so that we can filter out the non-sense. Honestly says that curb side recycling doesn't work for anything except aluminum cans, simple as that. The energy used by curb side recycling does not justify its cost, especially for plastics, and that's even after you take human labor costs out of the equation, which environmentalists of course already do (they think our time has no value, that we should all pitch in for the environment no matter what the cost in time and energy).
Then let's move on to getting rid of the boogey men like boaters who are blamed for all kinds of problems when the real problems are things like runoff from streets, fields, etc, into the water system.
Then let's realize somewhere along the way that human beings are the reason we care about having a clean environment, not the environment for its own sake, and stop this culture of talking about human beings like we are only a problem. People just don't like it, they don't respond well to it, and if you buy into the argument completely the only reasonable path is to toss everybody you know off a high cliff to cut down on the "problem". Being a human being on this planet means that we generate a certain amount of waste, there will never be a way to avoid that, all organisms on this planet create waste that is toxic to themselves and usually others (though not always, oxygen is a plant waste product, for example). Human beings are no different, we will always create waste.
Then after we fix people's brains so that they are thinking like human beings again then they might be able to filter out a lot of the environmental non-sense they hear and think about things in a reasonable perspective. Once we get there and undo the damage that has been done then we can focus on actual solutions to real problems - problems like mercury in the water, problems like figuring out how to clean up the superfund sites, problems like runoff from the water sheds. We can focus on finding real solutions to real problems that will yield real results.
I've said before in similar threads that you have to include the human being in all of this, solutions that disregard humans won't work. What does that mean ? It means, for example, that human beings like to have fun, so stop thinking you're going to be able to get rid of all of the personal watercraft because it hurts the environment, because that simply isn't going to happen. Focus instead of making the vehicles in a way that won't harm the environment as much. Stop trying to make it so people can't drive on the beaches in North Carolina and start realizing that it actually causes very little in the way of damage, just because it seems like it does doesn't mean that it actually does. Allow for the fact that people are going to want to race cars on the Salt Flats, yeah, maybe it leaves some tracks, but are tracks in the Salt Flats responsible for many deaths in L.A. or N.Y. from toxins ? Not really.
Stop worrying about who is throwing glass in the ocean, start actually trying to actually find a place to store nuclear waste, etc. It has taken the environmental movement more than 50 years to screw people's heads up to the point that they can't even think rationally about things anymore, it is time to fix the damage. It is time for people to realize that they aren't helping the environment by going to the outdoor store (church) to buy a tent and some new boots, and that they are helping the environment when they pass legislation opening a nuclear waste dumping site. It is time for people to understand what they don't know so that they can understand more that they should know. Hint: If you actually believe what you learned from urban textbooks that the poor pitiful farmers were destroying the countryside until the smart urban folks came out and showed them all how to plow around the hills instead of up and down, then you've got a long ways to go. If you want to know about the environment and how to save it, get out of the city and go out to the country and learn something from the farmers you look down on, hang around with people who are in the environment and who really are concerned with things like fertilizer runoff.
At some point, once trust is restored, people might actually start believing they can make a difference and stop believing that no matter what they do it won't matter. At some point they might watch a movie about the next thing that is going to destroy us all and stop believing it, maybe keep their eye on the ball and fix real problems.
What are you pretending not to know ?
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