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Question of the Week: If you could ask the public one question about the environment, what would it be?

2008 November 3

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.

Here on the blog team, we try to come up with Questions Of The Week that are relevant and engage reader interest. But we also want the questions to be balanced and avoid leading the reader to any particular conclusion. What question would you ask?

If you could ask the public one question about the environment, what would it be?


En español: Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Aquí en el equipo del blog, tratamos de elaborar Preguntas de la Semana que sean relevantes y generen el interés del público. Sin embargo, también queremos que las preguntas sean equilibradas y eviten encauzar al lector a una conclusión en particular. ¿Cuál pregunta haría?

¿Si pudiera plantear al público una pregunta sobre el medio ambiente, cuál sería?

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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100 Responses leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Gasoline prices have sharply declined in recent weeks. Have you maintained changes in your driving behavior that you adopted during the summer spike, or have you gone back to your old ways?

  2. Bill S. permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Will you change your way of life by making personal sacrifices in the way you use energy, consume products, dispose of waste, and make use of land and water to help protect and improve the environment?

    That’s really a lot of questions in front of one question mark. But the idea is that the general public needs to look more at itself and less at government to make a difference in environmental protection and sustainability.

  3. Utah Chris permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Are you willing to entirely sacrifice your electric power that you enjoy today and live in a home without electric power to save a family of praire dogs?

  4. Jeff S permalink
    November 3, 2008

    How can we balance our need for safe, clean energy with our ability to compete in a world market that does not always have the same values as the U.S.?

    To only address one side of the scale and ignore the other has not worked in the past. Ignoring the environment resulted in poluted lands, and ignoring the financial forces sent our jobs to China and India.

  5. B. Hadley permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Got any ideas about how to solve global warming? (If we ask this of enough people, we will discover the multi-faceted answers that we need to tackle this problem.)

  6. Dawn M Junkins permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Does anyone have any knowledge about what ripped through the state that created so many fibers, glitter, particulate matter and gaseous chemicals to cross contaminate different properties? It either came from the sky and created a creeping surface energy effect or came up from the ground initially.

  7. Carol permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Why don’t you take recycling more seriously? It is such an easy thing to do.

  8. solarmagneticdynamo permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What one thing can the government (state, local, natl) do to make it easier for you to be more protective of the environment? (Examples: Subsidized hybrid cars, better public transportation, recycling credit, free home solar panels etc.)

  9. Ralph Baker permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Do you know how and where to submit an envronmental complaint? Do you have a list of toll free phone numbers and email to submit the complaint to a EPA Region, and primacy state.

  10. Benita permalink
    November 3, 2008

    If you could ask the public one question about the environment, what would it be?

    “Are you aware how government agencies are wasting your time and theirs with stupid questions instead of spending your taxpayer dollars focusing on the task assigned to them?”

  11. spark permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What would you give up in order to keep a coal-burning power plant from being constructed in your state?

  12. Leonard permalink
    November 3, 2008

    To protect/enhance the quality of air, water, and land that US society can potentially affect, is US society–collectively, the residential, commerical, industrial, nonprofit, and governmental sectors–spending/investing . . .

    (a) woefully too little,
    (b) slightly too little,
    (c) the right amount,
    (d) slightly too much, or
    (e) by far too much?

  13. Karsten Baumann permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What is a healthy environment worth to you?

  14. L. Sue permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Do you REALLY understand what’s happening to our planet?

  15. Gabriela S. permalink
    November 3, 2008

    ¿Cuál crees que es tu mayor contribución personal a los problemas de medioambiente que hoy existen en tu área local y en el mundo en general (ej. capa de ozono, efecto invernadero), considerando transporte, electricidad, desechos biológicos y químicos y desperdicios en general?

    Which do you believe is your greater personal contribution to the problems of environment that today exist in your local area and in the world in general (ej. ozone layer, greenhouse effect), considering transportation, electricity, chemical and biological waste and wastes in general?

  16. Sandra Donnelly permalink
    November 3, 2008

    As resources become scarcer it is inevitable that changes in lifestyle and personal behavior will happen. The recent spike in the price of gasoline caused many to dramatically alter when and where they drive their cars. The crisis response to gasoline prices added to the economic crisis in this country. One example is the effect upon the auto industry. Probably most people thought that “this too will pass”, and that situation may, but other shortages will be long-lived or permanent, such as the devastating drought in the southeast and the perennial water shortages in the desert southwest.

    Is it better to change behavior as needed or should we work to make permanent behavioral and economic changes in advance of a resource crisis? If we choose the latter, how do we determine which resource conservation behavior should be adopted first, second, third…….? What do we do to make the changes stick? Finally, could such actions prevent or soften unintended consequences?

  17. Anonymous permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Will you stop taking on faith what business leaders, and their politicians, tell you is safe about the products they distribute- ie commercials. When will people stop believing the liars? Like a common product label ” Hydrochloric acid free- contains muriatic acid”

  18. Pam LaBine permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Do you know what your carbon footprint is and do you think it’s smaller than your parents or grandparents?

  19. Pam S permalink
    November 3, 2008

    I work in the wastewater field, concerned with meeting the ever decreasing limits (not implying that it is a bad thing). Question to the public: How much money are you willing to payout to meet the ever decreasing limits?

    Funding from government (federal and state) only go so far to keep maintenance on aging infrustructure and upgrading wastewater treatment facilities to meet new regulations.

  20. seabury lyon permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Do you know that you are paying for polluters to “externalize” costs and that in the case of power generators, the costs of installing scrubbers is only 1 to 5% of the cost in human health from non-scrubbed emissions?

  21. Linda permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Can you think of just 5 things you can do to improve the environment in your community; if so, are you willing to do those on a sustained basis? If not, do you know where to look to find some ideas? (hint — check out the EPA’s home page)

  22. Jim W permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Would you be willing to work a longer work day so that you only need to drive to work 4 days a week?

    That would reduce your commuting time and gas related expenses by 20%. In addition, offices/facilities could turn down their thermostats and lighting for three straight days during the week. There would be a great energy savings by adopting such a strategy. In addition, people would have more family time and productive weekends which would likely lead to happier families and less stress.

  23. November 3, 2008

    How will the new President impact EPA?

  24. Marcus permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What did you do to protect human health and the environment today?

  25. November 3, 2008

    What have you done today to show your care for the environment?

  26. Awalker permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Interesting take on a simple request. Did you happen to think this may be the task assigned to them?

    I feel I’m part of a team, this team of environmentally conscious individuals that get to come to one spot and discuss great topics. Have you never been on a team to brainstorm an issue and try include as many ideas to get outside the box? I am tasked to bring awareness to the community I work for, and any ideas or dear god, “stupid questions” that come are all valid in my book.

    Good luck with your methods, and BTW get back to work with the task you’ve been assigned.

  27. Awalker permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Have you ever looked into the true cost of the food you eat? (e.g. How is it created? How much processing is required? Where is it delivered from?) All of these increase your carbon footprint.

  28. Fernando Fernandez permalink
    November 3, 2008

    SImply stated, what are you doing to save water?

  29. W.Robin permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions do you think the US should commit to, over what period – and what % price increase for fossil fuels and petroleum-derived products are you prepared to pay to achieve this?

  30. Eben permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Hello from South Africa. Thank you for this blog! My Question is: Can America please give us some use full tips on what South Africa can do to lead the rest of Africa in becoming more green. We are developing fast but air pollution is a problem in parts of our country. Should we be thinking of fuel alternatives? Yes many of our people are underdeveloped, but we have some of the greatest thinkers here.

  31. josephine M. Rakow permalink
    November 3, 2008

    How prevalent are fishkills? Would appreciate knowing where, what seaon and causes. Thank you!

  32. john permalink
    November 3, 2008

    This one is a two-parter:
    Why are you still driving your Hummer at 90 mph and getting 5 mpg?
    Why are you still driving a Hummer [period]?

  33. john permalink
    November 3, 2008

    If you are thinking alternative fuels, biodeisel is the way to go. Ethanol is worthless: less mpgs, more expensive and more petrol based fuel is used in producing ethanol than a car that runs on petrol fuel. Go figure.
    Biodeisel can also be made from waste like cooking oil from restraunts or even switch grass or other types of weeds that are virtually worthless otherwise. Even garbage from a landfill can become biodeisel.
    Two things there are plenty of: water and wind. Hydrogen fuel cells and wind energy are the future.

  34. Anonymous permalink
    November 3, 2008

    And what will you do when the price inevitabily goes up again?

  35. Utah Chris permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Easy big fella !!

    I believe we are all concerned about the wasteful spending we see in government programs every day. Like Benita, I feel our government is bigger than it needs to be and spends dollars without regard for the taxpayers.

    So… having said that, here is my one question about the environment…:

    When I was my daughter’s age, they told me we were going to experince an ice-age during my lifetime. They also told me we would run out of space for landfills during my lifetime. That we would have overpopulation of the world by 2000.

    In your opinion, do scientists really know anything about the earths environment or are they just guessing and creating doomsday scenarios to continue funding their research and putting a paycheck into their pocket?

  36. Michelle permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Why do we all not demand more of government to step in and help to facilitate environmental changes for the better? For example, why is it status quo to have giant cars still? Why is there not public transport (trains, etc. like in Germany), recycling EVERYWHERE as a way of life, more investment into solar energy so that it would become cheaper for people to install, etc????

    I am personally disgusted at how we all know about global warming, limited resources, etc. but then the government appears to turn a blind eye? I wonder if that is current administration or what? I would LOVE to see it operation by a human being with a conscience and respect for citizenry AND environments for everyone.

  37. Jonathan permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Are the voices touting “virtual water” as the next big area of concern correct that a global water footprint is as perilous as the carbon footprint?

  38. Susan permalink
    November 3, 2008

    If I were going to ask 1 public question about the environment it would be:
    Since we are all in the same boat in the long run, why is it so difficult to see participation from government, industry and the private sector in maintaining the health of our environment?

  39. Rod Escobedo permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Excuse me, but I don´t understand the relationshis in this issue.
    Could you be more especific, please?

  40. Jimad permalink
    November 3, 2008

    What would it actually cost American citizens in order to completely stop America’s contribution to global warming, and what would this entail?

  41. Bonnie Aylor permalink
    November 3, 2008

    My question would actually be tailored around gaining an idea of how the public views the environment. In ethics class you learn many different points of view about environmental ethics. Basically, there are religious views, inner values, and relational views. Soe believe that they are here to care for the animals and wildlife, some see that care for in a dominating type sense where the only way to care for the animals is to dominate them so that they accept the care, some see it in more of a sense of low profile caring, kind of directing with minimal contact and minimal interruption. Others find themselves more at a level of where they have a duty to the environment, some see that duty as a way of keeping the earth in equilibrium some see it as an expression of the fact that humans have evolved far enough that they owe back to the environment some sense of protection or resource, or favor, etc. Some see that they owe a duty to mankind by caring for the environment and making it more sustainable to mankind, or by caring for the environment and making it more peaceful to mankind. Basically, I’d want to know:

    “What motivates one to care for or disregard the environment?”

  42. bill permalink
    November 3, 2008

    If water resources are to be reserved solely for municipal and/or recreational uses, not agricultural production, do you plan on eating trees, flowers and bluegrass?

  43. Dave permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Have you ever whatched someone die from Cancer?

  44. Kenny R permalink
    November 3, 2008

    If Big Oil was setting the price in the market when crude was $145 per barrel, why aren’t they doing it now when the price is less than $65 per barrel?

    Of course the answer is that it’s a global economy and a free market system. The oil companies aren’t the bad guys. They are our friends.

  45. Sandra donnelly permalink
    November 3, 2008

    I was recently part of a county-wide initiative on sustainability. One of the products produced was an initial carbon inventory of county activities. This lead to thinking about my personal footprint. My carbon footprint is much larger than my parents and several time larger than that of their parents. I just an article on BBC Environment entitled “Earth ‘on course for eco-crunch’ – November 3. It says in essence that we need two more planets with the same resources as our present one to continue consuming natural capital at the present rate. Scary thought but it seems the only way for us to pass anything on to future generations is to take stock and probably take enormous steps backward to low tech whenever possible. This was what I was trying to say in my comment to the Nov 3 question and I guess I can pat myself on the back because I wrote the response before reading the article. It is a thorny issue that we can either confront head-on or wait to develp and respond to in crisis mode. I would like to avoid crisis mode since chaos often accompanies such a response.

  46. seagul permalink
    November 3, 2008

    Utah Chris, you hit the nail on the head. The scientists do not know everything about the earths environment. In fact their is a very large number of scientists that believe climate change is not being caused by humans. Much of the global warming therory is based on modeling and assumptions.

  47. Maya permalink
    November 3, 2008

    what drives you (would it take) to change your behavior towards reducing your ecological footprint?

  48. Won Hee Jo permalink
    November 4, 2008

    Would you say that the environment that you live in is a clean and safe environment?

  49. Ahmad Shahidian permalink
    November 4, 2008

    1- Do for the future generation environment we have?
    2- Our task is to preserve the environment?
    3- How to preserve the environment of you?
    4- Do you have an income of the environment for you?
    5- For breaching laws environment fined how much you paid for?

  50. Barbara H permalink
    November 4, 2008

    “What are 10 things that you, personally, can do to reduce or eliminate your use of plastic?”

    Plastic is not bio-degradable; it lasts for thousands of years. Much of it ends up in our oceans and, of course, in the fish we eat.
    Plastic breaks into smaller and smaller pieces until it blends with the food sources of nearly all marine life. Plastic leaches toxic chemicals. If we don’t act soon, we’ll all be eating lots more of those.

    Right now there is a “landfill” much bigger than the state of Texas, floating in the north Pacific (the north Pacific gyre). It is composed mainly of plastics, and it is growing by leaps and bounds.
    The time to act is now.

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