All environmental problems have solutions. Some of them may require a cultural shift while others can be quite costly. But an environmentally concerned individual recognizes that there are solutions, often complex ones that can arrest and reverse environmental degradation. These solutions may be long-term and be related to changes in technology and society.
Because the world has a finite resource base it is important to acknowledge the fact that a growing human population will put a strain on these resources. At the current rate of harvesting and exploitation many species of commercially important fish will be depleted in a few decades. This will have a startling and devastating impact on millions of people who depend on seafood as a source of protein. Experts need to gather specific data on changes in fish populations in order to develop effective management solutions for this vital resource. Maybe expanded technologies using aquaculture can regenerate a depleted fish population. After all it was the development of land agriculture that enabled the human population to grow and thrive throughout the world.
Sometimes the implementation of a new policy can backfire. Single species protection campaigns often fail to look at the whole ecosystem. There are very close interconnections between species and the physical environment. For example introducing a non-native predator into an area to control a pest species could result in the predator becoming a pest.
I’ve explained to my students for years that the best policies rely on the best scientific data and information available. Making thoughtful choices from an extensive selection of solutions is an essential skill for a coastal manager. For a long time the Cape has been struggling with traffic issues, particularly on the Sagamore and Bourne bridges. One solution that keeps coming up is the idea of building a third bridge.
But does that really address the problem or will it make matters worse? Will a third bridge attract more cars to the Cape? Will they cross over the bridge only to find increased congestion on the Cape’s narrow roads? Will the construction of a third bridge prevent the development of alternative transportation solutions such as mass transit? Again solutions to these problems are often complex with unforeseen consequences. Progress must be thoughtful and carefully designed.
Copyright Gil Newton 2009 Thanks to Chris Dumas for logo image.