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Environmental Agencies & Organizations

While we, homo sapiens, are the only species ever to have gained appreciable control over Earth’s environment, we are far from being its masters. Quite to the contrary, recent natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina remind us that, when confronted with such cataclysms, we become unable to adequately influence the artificial environments we have created for ourselves, let alone the forces of Nature. We prefer to think of ourselves as being able to bend the environment to our will, but in reality humanity acts as a destabilizing agent within the environment and a disruptor of ecosystems.

As recognition has grown that steps must be taken to control and monitor our modification of the environment and ecosystems, environmental agencies and organizations have been created by governments, business and industry, educational institutions, consumer groups, concerned citizens and combinations thereof to promote, coordinate and oversee safe environmental practices and preservation of ecosystems and to educate the public, governing bodies and corporate entities regarding the benefits, drawbacks and proper use of and care for the environment in which we all must live. (Numerous organizations such as natural history museums and research institutions, while not principally engaged in environmental activities, sponsor programs designed to heighten environmental consciousness and aid in ecosystem preservation.) Some environmental agencies and organizations are tied directly to the founding bodies, some are adjuncts, and others are entirely autonomous. Environmental agencies and organizations have a variety of mandates, usually defined in a mission statement and often further expanded upon in a goals or vision statement. Specific mandates and objectives may include:
  • Promotion of education, research, development and commerce in environmentally-friendly technologies and in new technologies for environmental rehabilitation and pollution control;
  • Encouraging conservation of natural resources, programs such as recycling, and use of alternate fuels and discouraging practices such as hunting and collecting of endangered species or exploitation of of fragile ecosystems;
  • Funding of environmental science research and development efforts;
  • Encouraging development of career opportunities in environmental engineering, environmental science and ecosystem preservation and facilitation of job placement within these and related disciplines;
  • Raising public awareness of environmental issues and challenges and environment and ecosystem hazards or bringing a particular aspect of environmental change, threat to ecosystems, or environmental science or technology to the forefront of the public consciousness;
  • Serving as a watchdog or monitor for the environment and for those industries and practices that cause harm or destruction to the environment and to ecosystems to insure compliance with existing environmental regulations and to encourage better methods of resource utilization;
  • Lobbying lawmaking bodies for enactment of laws favorable to the environment and environmentally-friendly industries and technologies and restrictive to uncontrolled environmental exploitation.

Environmental agencies and organizations in the private sector are most often non-profit entities, but may also be for-profit companies such as think tanks engaged in furthering specific environmental industries and research segments or in tackling environmental and ecosystem challenges and issues in general. Environmental agencies and organizations may be local, regional, national or international in scope and influence.

It must be noted that some environmental groups and organizations take upon themselves the goal of protecting the environment without regard to the impact their efforts may have upon the lives and livelihoods of those people who, either directly or incidentally, come into conflict with their philosophies or their actions. I propose to you that these environmental groups are little different than the government or corporate entities that they despise who may act or claim to act “for the good of the nation and its people” or ”for the good of the company and its employees” without regard for environmental and ecosystem consequences; while they differ diametrically in philosophy, they employ the same brute force strategy to accomplish their goals.

Environmental groups that act without regard for the public interest serve to alienate the very populace they require to properly secure the environmental and ecosystem protection they seek. It is a hard, cold fact that, barring a global extinction event, humankind is here to stay. We will of necessity continue to interact with our environment; the nature of that interaction is reshaped beneficially only through public education, a philosophy that espouses a balance between the needs of Man and Nature, and recognition that we must preserve rather than remake our environment to continue our existence as a species.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 6 September 2005.

Follow links to the right to learn more about environmental agencies and organizations, the functions each performs and the benefits that derive from their existence. At the left margin, Related Links address topics of interest pertaining to environmental issues and earth changes. View the Technology & Science SiteMap for a complete list of technology and science-related topics.

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