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Question of the Week: What would you like us to ask as question of the week?

2010 June 7

We’ve been running Question of the Week for more than two years now. We’ve asked more than 100 questions and you’ve written thousands of responses on everything from why you bike to work (or don’t) to what environmental protection means to you. And recently, you’ve shared how actions you’ve taken have improved your life.

After this week, we’re going to take a short break to assess where we’ve been and where we want to go with this feature. We’re going to plan out a few months’ worth of questions and look for ways to report back to you the collective responses. We’re also going to sort through the questions that generated the most response to see what patterns emerge.

We’ll be back in a month or two. Meanwhile, help us plan by suggesting questions.  The goal is to start conversations, not solicit specific facts.

What would you like us to ask as question of the week?

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.

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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58 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Developimg capacity of mankind or minimalize the readers, about environmentalism ideology. BP (capitalism), Mine landslide (socialism), terorism (Islam), … have been destructing our planet.
    Environmentalism is the future of way of life !!!!

  2. Nicholas Allen Swiney permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Exactly how many millions of marine animals have been, currently are, and will be affected due to the “oil spill”?

  3. Maynard S. Clark permalink
    June 7, 2010

    How much (and what percentage/proportion) of US petroleum use is consumed in:
    (a) production of fertilizers for (i) feed crops for food animals’ and (ii) plant crops for human consumption?
    (a) agriculture, broken out into (i) animal products (fertilizer, feed crops, indoor electrification for factory-farmed animals, transportation, refrigeration) and (ii) non-animal derived food(s)?

    How factual or true is the claim that, if all Americans immediately abandoned all meat and animal products, the demand for animal agriculture would cease (be eliminated, or at least dramatically reduced) and the reduction in the demand for petroleum would be a greater reduction than all current imports from outside the USA?

  4. Heidi Maschmann permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Do you really think about the items you purchase while grocery shopping? How far did it have to be transported? What methods are used in its creation / growing / manufacturing processes? How is it packaged? What are the effects of it being used or consumed?

  5. JACK FERRY permalink
    June 7, 2010

    High-Speed Rail is the transportation wave of the future as demonstrated in China, Europe, South Korea, Taiwan and even Viet Nam. However here in the US and Canada, we are a third – world country when it comes to passenger train travel. Rail travel has proven to be a tremendous benefit to the world environment.

    Do you support high-speed rail here in the US as an alternative to air travel and the automobile?

    As concerned citizens, shouldn’t we press out local, state and government leaders that the United States needs to hop on board and not be left at the station when out next oil crisis raises its’ ugly head?

  6. Kim Balassiano permalink
    June 7, 2010

    I am curious to hear about people’s work with green infrastructure projects – what have people done to protect greenspace and conserve the ecosystem values in their neighborhoods?

  7. beachgirl permalink
    June 7, 2010

    What are individuals/teams doing to make their workplace more environmentally friendly? How are they getting the word out about reduce, reuse, recycle?

  8. Jackenson Durand permalink
    June 7, 2010

    How do you think that a Global Green Program Education base on nature conservancy, green energy, and forestation would be able to unify the world by stopping famine, crimes socio-politic and cultural around the world?

  9. Mike permalink
    June 7, 2010

    What environmentally related community learning or volunteer programs have been meaningful to you?

  10. eva hagmajer permalink
    June 7, 2010

    I would like that in all cities in the world ( where there is subway, street cars and buses communication) in down town area

    will be no cars at all – polcy.

    It will reduce greenhouse gases levels, will reduce therefore smog etc.

    Let me know what has been decided.


  11. Joan permalink
    June 7, 2010

    I’d like to see Questions of the Week that encourage people to think about how meaningful small changes really can be.
    The problems we face may seem overwhelming, and we may think “oh, just my little contribution won’t make any difference”, so sometimes we don’t bother.
    But, real change can start small. So let’s keep encouraging each other!

  12. Gersl N. Kay, IESNA permalink
    June 7, 2010

    How can we encourage manufacturers to use truth in advertising, so that they tell ALL the properties of their publicized energy-efficient product, both good and bad. Otherwise, purchasers are used as guinea pigs to test the technology for free, saving the makers money and effort in that task.

  13. Stephanie permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Personally, I would like to know the answer to that question as well. I do believe that they (EPA/Coast Guard) are doing what they can to control the oil spill, but I have to admit to being very disappointed in the outcome so far…and the options that help with the spill are very damaging to marine life.

  14. chaz clark permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Whatever happened to the idea that algae could be used to make bio-fuel. (Diesel)

    I understand there are several successful producers in S Cal.

  15. Don Carli permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Can consumers afford to ignore the carbon footprint of their media choices… even if their individual impacts may appear to be small?

  16. John Robinrobineagle permalink
    June 7, 2010

    Why were the ROUV nuclear sub and weapons deep sea retreval
    teams asked to stay away , but stand by if neede , first week of
    gulf oil disater , and unit personelle now report they practice at
    3000 to 3500 meters all procedures and would have , and still could , pressure pump into casing pipe of well polymere concrete
    exspandable 8o ft. below earth grade easily at 5000 feet.

  17. David Stupka permalink
    June 7, 2010

    There is a need for a site that allows for communities to share information on, how they have saved money in operations of their community. Therefore my question is, as a community leader, would you access a site that provides information on what other communities have done successful in saving money relating to energy consumption?

  18. C.V.Antony permalink
    June 8, 2010

    How can we teach children in our home environment friendly issues.? Let that be question always.

  19. donaldolson permalink
    June 8, 2010

    Is it possible to reduce world carbon emissions to 350 ppm or do we start planning to live in a totally new environment?

  20. CLT permalink
    June 8, 2010

    What types of steps are you taking to reduce your carbon footprint? E.g. buying locally grown products, such as foods and plants.

  21. Anonymous permalink
    June 8, 2010

    I agree Joan. Even within this forum many times I see comments indicating that little contributions are not going to make a difference. I may be a dreamer but I believe that every little “drop in the bucket” can eventually make a huge difference! We need to direct more attention to getting our children involved – if you’ve ever witnessed a group of youngsters involved in a single project, their enthusiasm is awesome! Real change does start small and I will continue to encourage everyone I can.

  22. William Callahan permalink
    June 8, 2010

    Why do we continue to waste so much? If we just stopped wasting so much, we would have less need for landfills, we would reduce our energy needs, we would have less unemployment, and we would all live healthier lives by not poisoning our land, water and air. Some believe it’s more economical to produce new products from virgin materials to protect jobs and industries than to spend good money on recycling waste. To me I believe this is foolish thinking. With population continuing to expand and resources on decline we can no longer afford to bury or burn our waste. I don’t believe we are working hard enough to reduce our production of waste: in manufacturing, in construction, where we work, in our communities and in our homes. Waste going to a landfill or incinerator is counter productive and unhealthy. We need to make the elimination of waste a top priority everywhere.

  23. sharon permalink
    June 8, 2010

    Should Corporations be allowed to operate freely without regulations, oversight, of impact reports when their actions could affect our environment?

  24. Prachiti permalink
    June 9, 2010

    How mine distances sun to earth?

  25. Jon permalink
    June 9, 2010

    I agree Heidi. I think many people think that if it’s in the grocery store than it’s good for you and/or since it’s available we should buy it. I think there should be more focus on where our food comes from and what’s it’s derived from…lots of our fruit/veggies are GMOs and aren’t natural. Much of our meat is ‘grown’ in ways that are not healthy or environmentally sound ways. Watch King Corn or Food Inc. documentaries or read an ‘omnivore’s dilemma’ to learn where our food comes from and how what they eat affects you! More questions on what do you really think we’re eating?

  26. jon permalink
    June 9, 2010

    What’s the deal with bottled water? Is it healthier for you? Is it less expensive than tap water? Is it better than tap water? Is it more regulated then tap water? Why is there such a focus on bottled water? Do you think that all those bottles are actually recycled?

  27. Anonymous permalink
    June 9, 2010

    none Carbon footprint is a joke its the catch phase of the day.

  28. Colleen Mueller permalink
    June 13, 2010

    Minnesota has exempted large wind farms from doing a complete environmental assessment worksheet. This is not “green energy” it is “greed energy” prompted by incentives fed with taxpayers money-it’s a big one too-$60 million to get 1 project going-that’s our money being used against us-wind will never stand alone!! What my question is, as farmers we are required to comply with laws and regulations to protect the environment, if big wind is such a great farm why are they exempt from the very tests many others are required to do? Looks like we’re destined to repeat overlooking policies, only to invite catastrophe’s like the gulf.

  29. David Lynch permalink
    June 13, 2010

    Do you feel the government is on the right track? or do you see other areas they can implement issues that will dramatically make a difference?

  30. Steve Arey permalink
    June 13, 2010

    What should the U.S. goverment initiate as policy to break our country’s dependence on oil?

    I look forward to giving my exclusive answer.

  31. kchick permalink
    June 14, 2010

    Good question, Jon. We did ask about this subject in a Question of the Week on July 7, 2008. We received over 600 comments to that post, and later posted a follow-up presenting a overview of the comments we received on August 26, 2008. Maybe we should pose this question again to see if things have changed any. Thanks for the suggestion.

  32. Chris S permalink
    June 15, 2010

    the assumption that vegetarianism is a viable solution to environmental degradation should take a long hard look at the largest vegetarian society on the planet. Can anyone seriously consider India to be a major per capita consumer of petrochemical products? Yet they have a larger population of cows and other domesticated livestock than North America.

    Americans are wasteful in every facet of our current culture… and this seems to tie in closely with the notion that expanding markets is a “good thing” and being able to postphone “paying the piper” for several generations. It is how we raise our livestock and get them to market that is the problem, and volumes can be written explaining how this came to be and how to try and return to environmental sanity.

    Unfortunately, there are those who have replaced rational science with emotional rhetoric, making it that much harder to arrive at workable strategies to protect ecosystems from the real problem…. way too many human beings who want to live and have comfortable lives. That includes everyone reading this.

  33. David Lynch permalink
    July 4, 2010

    What can we put in place so there will not be another oil spill.
    Is there are way to have the risk factor of zero for this.

  34. maria green permalink
    July 9, 2010

    que tal si por una semana las tiendas comerciales dejaran de usar bolsas de plastico, que tal si por una semana fueramos concientes de que no necesitamos tanto plastico alrededor de nuestro medio ambiente.
    cada familia podemos cargar nuestra bolsas reusables y asi no tener que usar plastico , plastico ,plastico , abramos nuestros ojos por favor nos estamos autodestruyendo.

  35. Chris S permalink
    July 12, 2010

    how about asking us about our ideas for reducing the nations reliance on “big energy” …. and how we think that government can be most helpful.

    I want to know why a person in Australia or the Pacific Rim can easily obtain 12 volt appliances ( which can run on small wind or solar generators), while here in the US our choices ar restricted to 120 volt ones that require hookup to the grid. Yes, a smart grid is a good idea… but so is less reliance on the darn thing.

    What good are tax breaks for a low or middle income family that can’t afford to take out a 20 or 50 thousand dollar loan to upgrade their dwelling to more green features? If more folks could get started with small investments, the money they save is then available to upgrade later to larger and more efficient systems.

    How about solar powered air conditioners or fans or small refrigeration units? They’d work just fine off solar charged 12 volt batteries when the grid is being taxed to its limits.

    There was more cheap tech available in the 1970’s than there seems to be now. Once again we seem to be vested in the notion that bigger is better… but what we really need is more investment in the little guys.

  36. Chris S permalink
    July 15, 2010

    Sorry if I’m on a roll, but we can’t edit a previous post.

    The federal government spends big bucks ( out of taxpayer money) to aid the less fortunate in our society. Can we spend our money a bit more wisely by requiring all low income housing be greener… either during construction approval or by retrofitting.

    Environmental justice needs to be more than just worrying about external forces acting upon a community… we need to free up their financial resources. Why spend money that ultimately goes to big business ( the energy industry) for heating & power?

    If we lack the ability to curb our population, then we need to ensure that every aspect of our infrastructure is more than just energy efficient, it needs to support as much of its own energy needs as possible.

    The best thing the federal government can do is to leverage their money and influence throughout the various agencies. Something as simple as requiring federal purchasing to give preference to green products, ans only resort to less green products by a jsutification process. Only buy rechargeble batteries, with specific exceptions only for compeling need, as one example.

    Ask us for more ideas on what else can be done on a scale that will actually matter.

  37. Dave permalink
    August 20, 2010

    North Americans are, I believe, too “impatient” to make high-speed rail a viable alternative to air travel. We want everything NOW, without considering the consequences. It makes perfect sense to create the infrastructure for high-speed rail, but the existing rail systems commpete with the trucking industry for the most part; there’s hardly ANY passenger rail traffic left!

  38. Dave permalink
    August 20, 2010

    The private taxi industry may provide significant resistance to that idea…

  39. Dave permalink
    August 20, 2010

    Poor people do not waste; they find ways to use and reuse at every opportunity. Thoughtful people do not waste, but choose to consume only what they need, only when they need it.
    Lazy people waste; rich people that care only about the newest / finest / best of things waste; thoughtless, selfish people that care only for themsleves waste.

  40. Dave permalink
    August 20, 2010

    You cannot legislate ethics any more than you can morals; we can only define the consequences of poor ethics / morals, and fund the enforcement of those consequences.
    Corporate “citizens” must be in tune with the “heart” of the planet and the people that occupy it, or the result is “Soylent Green”…

  41. Dave permalink
    August 20, 2010

    1 – viable, reliable mass transit within and between major population centers
    2 – improved rail systems for goods’ traffic of the same fashion
    3 – (probably the most difficult) ignore the Big Oil lobbyists and “political contributors” that prefer short-term profit to long-term environmental responsibility.

  42. jessica england permalink
    August 28, 2010

    as far as consumers are concerned, we pretty much know where we stand when it comes to the environment. Heck, we want to save it but sometimes it is hard enough just putting a roof over our heads and food in our bellies.

    it would be intriguing if the EPA were to ask lawmakers and the owners of large-scale corporations some of the same questions that were posited to us consumers. And then report their answers back to us, the consumers.

    After all, consumer influence on a wide scale does not truly begin at the consumer level at all. So why would you want to be asking us questions?

  43. bagha permalink
    October 2, 2010

    Most people do think of the environment but one of comments are so true. I IS HARD ENOUGH FOR SOME TO PUT A ROOF OVER OUIR HEADS AND FOOD ON THE TABLE.

  44. hgjim permalink
    October 20, 2010

    Why aren’t the workplans for RCRA Corrective Actions and CERCLA cleanups posted on the website prior to the work being done so that people can know what is going to be done to correct environmental problems?

  45. Denise permalink
    November 20, 2010

    Do you think a Symbol such as a cute Polar Bear, would be a great way to bring Environmental Awareness Education to children… much the same as Smokey the bear brought fire prevention awareness?

  46. Torwon D. Krua permalink
    December 16, 2010

    I have been using your site ever since I got interested in tobacco free movement. You are doing a great job and thanks.
    My question is why is the US disallowed some chemicals from being used locally but is not interested in making a global ban of such chemicals?
    Was it DDT that was ban after WW-2? am I right or confused here?

  47. debra permalink
    January 11, 2011

    Hello.I saw a program on the documentary channel.It explained that 1 of the biggest problems with clean water and new well providing programs is that a group of people(with good intent) go into a needy area & build them a well.Everyone is happy!The drillers leave.2 days later #1 the well drys up #2 the machines that pump up water & make well work break down.There are many, many wells in africa & elsewhere and no one maintains them so they are useless. my Question is; How can I help these broken wells be repaired and maintanence kept up(so they benefit long term)?

  48. Phoebe permalink
    January 12, 2011

    what could you do to make your family more enviromently friendly?

  49. Cathy permalink
    March 17, 2011

    How are we prepared for possible nuclear fallout? (From any source)

  50. Sumer permalink
    March 22, 2011

    Why have regulations been put into place that prohibit American based oil companies from drilling, but Brazil has been given permission to drill in the Gulf of Mexico?

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