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Go Green or Black OUT!

A note for our readers: the views reflected by the authors do not reflect the views of ASPA.

By Tosha Wilson-Davis

From the cleanup of the BP oil spill, to the Go Green campaigns and the invention of electrical cars, to even the LED phenomenon of our electronics, effective natural resources management has become more and more necessary to save our environment and humankind. This may sound like a bit of a stretch, but it is important to note that the events above are in place to help decrease future earthly deterioration.

Environmental degradation is on the rise. Many meteorologists have hinted to the increase in global warming and climate change in recent years and its effect on our environment and quality of life. This is why it is important to have major agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) working to “clear” the air so that we can save not only the environment but also humankind. In an EPA report on climate change and global warming, it was noted:

“Greenhouse gas emissions could cause a 1.8° to 6.3° Fahrenheit rise in temperature during the next century, if atmospheric levels are not reduced. Although this change may appear small, it could produce extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods; threaten coastal resources and wetlands by raising sea level; and increase the risk of certain diseases by producing new breeding sites for pests and pathogens. Agricultural regions and woodlands are also susceptible to changes in climate that could result in increased insect populations and plant disease. This degradation of natural ecosystems could lead to reduced biological diversity.”

As such, we must all take a proactive approach to curb the effects of global warming and climate changes so that there are less negative effects on our environment and less harm to all earthly creatures.

There have been several initiatives implemented to help curtail future issues of environmental degradation and to help preserve the Earth. Two main initiatives are worth mentioning in terms of preservation and conservation of our environment. The first is the famous Go Green campaigns across the globe and the second is President Obama’s action plan on climate change.

Wilson Davis juneGo Green campaigns have increased over the last decade. Many companies, including those in the Fortune 500, have embraced this concept and are making efforts to run smoother and “cleaner” operations. Some of these green giants, as I like to refer to them, include Kohl’s Department stores, North Face, Dell, Inc., Apple, Inc., and even the learning giant, Pearson. The EPA Green Power 2013 Leadership award winners list, which included Pearson, noted that it is a “leader in green power purchasing and as of April 2013, ranked No. 37 on EPA’s National Top 50 list. Pearson was the first global media company to commit to becoming climate neutral, achieving this goal every year since 2009, and has since continued to reduce its environmental impacts including through green power purchases.

Furthermore, climate change initiatives have taken a front seat in recent years and President Obama has become a major driver of policy implementations for this issue. President Obama has taken a firm stance in citizens’ role in getting involved in the fight against climate change and this includes taking action. A famous phrase by our commander in chief stands out, “We can choose to believe that the Superstorm Sandy and the most severe drought in decades and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science—and act before it is too late.”

This is where effective natural resources management comes into play. From an organization’s CEO, to government officials, to the citizens across the world—we all have a role in managing natural resources. Think about your energy and electricity consumption each month. By reminding your children and yourself to cut off the light when you exit the bathroom or bedroom can have a huge impact on reducing your electric bill. The chief of a branch government office may consider holding a contest between different units to see who will remember to power down their computers at the end of each workday. The winning unit may be offered a free lunch (paid for by the chief) or a paid time-off award. This will not only help in the fight against high energy costs, but it will also help boost employee morale and encourage them to save the organization some money! Some military bases hold mandatory energy days (which usually precedes or follows a major holiday) to help conserve energy and reduce costs. All of these events support the national Go Green campaign.

In terms of the fight against climate change, controlling pollution and contributing to healthier air quality, federal agencies have implemented telecommute/telework initiatives that allows employees to fully or partially work from home. According to the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM), the impact of telecommuting has positive environmental effect. “Perhaps the largest impact that can be derived from a business strategy that uses telecommuting is the environmental benefits. When employees work from home, they use less gas for transportation, which reduces commuter congestion and carbon emissions and lessens the U.S.’s reliance on foreign oil. In addition, keeping employees working from home reduces the impact on land, water and air quality by decreasing the amount of building development.”

Finally, citizens across the world can join in supporting effective natural resources management by being mindful of their actions. Making small changes to our daily routines can make a huge difference in helping improve our environment. This can include powering down your computer each day before leaving work or retiring to bed, participating in telecommute and telework positions and/or buying more fuel efficient vehicles.

Whatever the case may be, effective natural resources management is a group effort that involves the work of top management personnel, employees and everyday citizens. Being aware of the actions that cause environmental deterioration, such as global warming and pollution, will help natural resource managers, climatologists and policymakers find meaningful solutions to help save our world. However, this will not be any easy task, as it will require continuous creativity and innovation to ensure that our climate, air quality and health remain intact for years to come. Consider making greener and cleaner decisions like buying that LED 50-inch television, telecommuting to work, or just volunteering to clean the litter from the city streets. Doing so will keep us all out of the dark and help us breathe a little easier.

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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