Environmental “Misunderestimation”

Though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of George W. Bush, I have to admit that one of his infamous coined words seems to be appropriate for my topic for today: misunderestimate.

One trend that seems to be applied to more and more problems today is underestimation. We as Americans seem to want to deny most of our large issues. Climate change, oil spills, deforestation of rain forests, many environmental conflicts and issues fall into this category, along with the most recent British Petroleum oil leak in the Gulf.  

When the initial explosion occurred off the coast of Louisiana, rough estimates and conjectures determined that the leaks weren’t concerning and it would be fixed promptly. More than a month later, we’re seeing the serious environmental impacts of the oil as well as the efforts used to stem its spread. From 5,000 barrels a day to more than 25,000, the course of time has only underscored the fact that people are willing to overlook serious factors in order to maintain a more optimistic outlook for a very serious problem.

While the timeline is much different, similar problems have plagued the movement against climate change. Though the issue is much more complex, the dilemma has only been hindered by controversial science, calculations, and estimates. The real problem is our own inability as a society to take responsibility for the full brunt of any given complication.

As I’ve stated in the past, to get American citizens to take charge of their own impact on our environment is hard enough, but to take responsibility and be honest about an issue that could potentially change a small economy, entire industries, the survival of dozens of species and ecosystems is hard to imagine — let alone our entire planet and global society.

While animals and plants are dying, people losing their jobs and entire regions being impacted in the Gulf, I think each and every one of us needs to consider what a difference each one of us can make. By simply taking responsibility for our own choices and actions, we can all determine our own futures, including that of our planet.