The environment will be the biggest issue of the 21st century. We have finally pushed the limits of nature to the point where entire ecosystems are breaking down. As much as we may want to deny it; our existence is ultimately tied to those ecosystems. Clean air and water are already in short supply over much of the world. We are seeing the shifting of weather patterns due to climate change that threaten the stability of our food supply. The great food producing regions of the world are seeing increasingly violent storms, persistent droughts and flash flooding of unprecedented severity and frequency. Regions are continuing to see the encroachment of deserts and oceans into previously habitable areas. Pollution of the oceans has created vast areas of dead zones where there is more plastic than life. Species extinction around the world is occurring at a rate at least 1000 times greater than the natural rate due to the activities of the human species.
Locally, runoff from farms, industrial and urban areas has altered the ecosystems of our rivers and lakes to the point where they are not safe for recreation and the fish are too toxic to eat. The problems of Flint Michigan and other cities’ water supplies has brought the issue of water quality to the public’s awareness but there are many pollutants found in the water that are not being talked about. Pharmaceuticals and estrogen mimicking chemicals are found in the water supply of every major city that has been tested. These chemicals have unknown effect on our health, on our children and on developing fetuses. Industrial spills into waterways have poisoned the water supplies of cities in Ohio on several occasions. Fracking chemicals are a concern, including methane production at the wells and the transportation of chemicals to injection wells, which has led to several known spills that affected local streams.
The EPA and other agencies responsible for monitoring pollution sources and non-point source pollution have been gutted and politicized to the detriment of public safety. These safeguards need to be restored to functional levels. We need to recognize this is not a partisan issue. This is not about punishing farmers or industrial entities. This is about finding solutions for the future of our state and the health of our children. We need to develop a common vision that sees everyone as part of the solution and creates policies that support efforts toward transparency, responsibility and awareness of the consequences for all of us if we fail to act.
The environment we create today is the future our children and grandchildren will have to live in.