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The Backdrop of the Future
One steps outside early Monday morning into a bright, clear, cloudless, sunny summer day. Vivid colors catch the eye along with the bright green of the grass, the soft blue of the sky and only a few wispy, horsetail clouds scattered at interval to break the sameness. Purple and orange wildflowers pop out at the edge of the forest. Deer can be seen playfully chasing each other in the forest and, at this point, after seeing them every morning, they seem so much like friends that one almost feels like waving. They head inside, finish their coffee, and get into their car to head to work in the city. The closer the city gets, they notices it getting cloudier and darker. Smoke comes out of the car factory to the right. The radio is tuned to the news. The anchorman is talking to a scientist about climate change. It is a typical topic but it hits hard because of the beautiful day. Walking into the office they are deep in thought and sit down at their desk, slightly distracted. Will the next generation be able to enjoy every morning as one now does? Or will they miss out on it because of the extravagance of this generation? Will it affect their health? Will they make their advances with a backdrop of smoke-producing factories or verdant forests?
This is exactly what GreenCityBlueLake was founded to ensure, preserve the earth for the next generation 15 years ago. It is the sustainability center of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and is Northeast Ohio’s leading environmental organization. It was created to promote the idea of Cleveland as a “green city on a blue lake” and has won awards such as the “Best of the Alternative Press Awards” (“About Green”). Even so, no foundation can carry out its projects and intentions without funds. This is why it is necessary to donate funds to the GreenCityBlueLake foundation in order to protect the wildlife, soil, water, and air quality in Northeast Ohio.
First, a little about the missions, goals, principles of GreenCityBlueLake. The mission of GreenCityBlueLake is sustainability. Sustainability is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” as defined by the United Nations (“About Green”). GreenCityBlueLake does their best to live up to this message and spread it so others can too. Everybody doing their bit will make a bigger impact than one organization as the only participants doing a larger part. Paul Hawken, an expert in ecology, states as his opionion on the definition of sustainability, “Leave the world better than you found it, take no more than you need, try not to harm life or the environment, make amends it you do” (“About Green”). GreenCityBlueLake incorporates this statement into their goals and principles. Sustinability is a huge commitment and has many attributes including:
Long time horizon – Focus on permanence, quality, durability, stewardship for future generations.
Multiple benefits – Integrate considerations of environment (natural capital), equity (social capital), and economy (financial capital) and pay attention to the triple bottom line (people, profits, and planet).
Multiply scales – Understand how the individual, neighborhood, city, region, or planet are all interconnected.
Openness – Innovation is needed, so experiment and take risks.
Attitudes – Be humble, hopeful, joyful in the pursuit of a better world. (“About Green”)
If funds are donated to GreenCityBlueLake they can use them to spread this message and carry out and create projects in various areas. People adopting these attributes could help GreenCityBlueLake realize their goal and sustain the earth longer.
The wildlife in Northeast Ohio is threatened by overpopulation, throwing off the delicate balance of the ecosystem. People affected by this overpopulation are reverting to getting rid of these animals in unethical and inhumane ways. In Veteran Park, in Mentor, the amount of deer recorded is about 120 deer per square mile. The recommended amount of deer is 15 per square mile in urban areas and if this is not taken care of, it could be unhealthy for the deer (Scott).
The effect of this overpopulation is not just felt by the deer, but by people as well. It’s a risk for safety and personal property if the deer situation is not confronted. This is because, as Betsy Scott comments, “The city had the highest number of vehicle-animal collisions between 2007 and 2009 among communities in the region, according to the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency” (Scott). GreenCityBlueLake could use funds to relocate these animals to stop the overpopulation and insure public safety.
The safety risks result in people using inhumane ways of getting rid of the deer. Jason Keller, the wildlife officer of Lake County, also states that he receives numerous calls from Mentor residents about deer and advises constant harassment to discourage them from taking up residence on a property. This is horrible treatment of animals, and people should not have to resort to practices like this. People have to spend much money on deer repellent and they are reducing the value of the property (Scott).
It is necessary to find a place to keep these animals and to catch and move the deer safely, without harming them. This costs money. Therefore, it is important to get the message out to the community and get them to support the legislation to manage the herd.
The quality of the soil and the minerals in it as well as the erosion of it are also causing environmental issues for Northeast Ohio. The erosion of soil is causing flooding which is damaging property and action needs to be taken quickly to stop it. Some lower areas are prone to flooding and steps must be taken to halt this flooding. David W. Jones informs, “A major cause of such damages is development, which changes vegetation and covers land with roof, sidewalks, streets and parking lots. Rainwater, unable to soak into soil, rushes with flash-flood-like intensity to streams” (Jones). Steps need to be taken to restore and reverse this erosion of soil and the city is commencing research. GreenCityBlueLakes could be a part of that group as the environmental expert. Once a plausible plan is developed, they could use that research to implement such plans elsewhere in Northeast Ohio where deemed necessary. Success rates are better when working as a group with the community and therefore is how the drainage issue would best be solved.
Hopefully the findings should become common knowledge in the community once the plan is released (Jones). This could help many other communities around Ohio and the country with drainage issues. Flooding can also cause mold in homes which can lead to respiratory and other health issues. The prevention of flooding because of soil erosion could reduce breathing problems such as asthma which provides even more cause to donate to GreenCityBlueLake because sustaining the environment would benefit the community by reducing the probability of disease before it infects.
The overall quality of water in Northeast Ohio is poor and polluted as well, and therefore could lead to many health issues for resident of this area as well as the water life and wildlife in the area. The Ohio EPA has expressed concerns and outlined improvements to the Grand River watershed’s health. Some measures to be taken are fixing failing home sewage systems (Fiskerhorn). This has a huge effect on people because the water is polluted with E.coli bacteria and storm water runoff and can cause health problems for any wild animals that may drink the water. The pollution in the water ruins the habitats of the fish and other inhabitants of the water, as well. Jeffery Fischkorn points out, “An abundance of fish and insects that tolerate pollution is an indicator of an unhealthy stream” (Fiskerhorn). This cannot be allowed to continue and needs to be reversed as soon as possible. If GreenCityBlueLake is given funds, they can begin projects designed to lower the pollution level of the Grand River watershed. This will in turn benefit the health of the ecosystem as well as the people and prevent the spread of disease, infection, and contamination of drinking water.
Air quality is becoming a significant problem, not just in Northeast Ohio, but in the world, because of auto emissions and the use of fossil fuels in many daily procedures. The EPA first adopted soot limits in 1977 and soot problems in Northeast Ohio led to auto emissions testing, but of Ohio’s 88 counties 27 have failed to meet soot limits set by the federal government (Downing). Carbon dioxide in the number one cause of global warming and ozone can cause breathing problems for many, so the Cleveland planning agency worked in 2005-2006 to make recommendations on limits to the EPA in Ohio (Downing).
If given the funds, GreenCityBlueLake could use them to research fuel efficient
cars, solar panels, and harness natural energies such as: wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric energies to make improvements to the air condition. At the moment, trying to be fuel efficient could be very costly, but with enough research GreenCityBlueLake could find ways to make it less costly and more accessible. This will have many long term benefits, benefit our future in a necessary way, and work towards GreenCityblueLake’s mission of sustainability. Breathing polluted air can also have long term effects on human health. If air pollutants are reduced, it could also reduce the number of chronic breathing/lung disorders diagnosed every year, such as lung cancer or asthma.
Money would be well spent donating funds to GreenCityBlueLake. Wildlife, soil, water, and air quality are aspects of Northeast Ohio that are in much danger of destruction, and this needs to be prevented for the future generations to whom we are leaving this earth. Meanwhile, other causes could also benefit from the sustaining of the environment by preventing heath issues caused by the breathing of polluted air and contaminated water. One is aroused from their reverie and left with one question: Air polluting factories or green cities on blue lakes, which is the better backdrop?