The Nature Writers of Texas

The best nature writing from the newspaper, magazine, blog and book authors of the Lone Star State . . .

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Protect Our Environment in 2005
by Ro Wauer

By now, almost everyone who makes New Year's resolutions has already done so. But I suspect that many of you have already lost your resolve. It happens every year. I suppose that is part of our culture. On the other hand, a few folks, for whatever reason, may not have decided on a really good resolution yet. Or, because they already have given up on the first one, they may need to start over again.

So, I have a suggestion: Why not make a resolution to do something positive for the environment? Something that would truly be worthwhile, and in a large sense, affect our outdoor environment. In the long term, such a resolution can lead to our own greater health and happiness.

How about starting with a resolution to keep our roadsides and fields cleaner? Not dumping garbage and unwanted things along the roads, in our streams, and under bridges and such, not only will save our tax dollars but also help control pests. I realize that only a few readers are such slobs who actually go so far as to dump garbage and larger unwanted stuff, but even smaller things like gum wrappers and empty cans and cups accumulate. And those small things attract pests such as cockroaches and mosquitoes that may be hazardous to our health.

For cat and dog lovers, how about a resolution to keep your pet indoors or controlled so that it does not run wild? Not only do dogs annoy your neighbors by barking and leaving scat on their lawns and gardens, but many dogs, especially those that roam in packs (even within neighborhoods), catch and kill native birds and small mammals, such as cottontails, that many of us enjoy. Cats are especially aggressive, and even a "house cat" that is let outdoors for brief periods during the daytime will undoubtedly revert back to its natural behavior and kill songbirds. No matter how "domesticated" your loving cat may be, your tabby is a marvelous creature that has evolved into a killing machine. Anyone who lets his or her house cat run free has little respect for the natural environment.

Another possible New Year's resolution, especially for retires, might be to give some of your time to a good cause. There are lots of those around. For those readers with special interests in nature and/or history, how about volunteering at an area park, refuge, or museum. It doesn't take an academic degree to help on maintenance or clerical projects. Most of our local organizations, including our own Texas Zoo, can use assistance. Call and ask: it's that simple.

You don't want to leave home, but you would like to help protect the environment? Than how about writing a letter each week or sending an email? It would take only a little of your time. Select an issue you care about, and let the president and congressional representatives know how you feel on national issues, and let your governor and state representatives know how you feel about state issues. If you think that your letters won't count, you are wrong. Contacts from the average citizen do make a difference. And you will learn in a hurry about which of your elected representative respond or not; those that ignore your position should not be supported in the future.

And finally, how about a resolution to do at least one simple, money-saving thing at home? Turn off your lights when they are not is use. It's such a simple idea but many folks just don't get to it. Turning off the lights that are not needed will not only save your own dollars but also lessen the demand for the energy production that requires coal-burning, water, or nuclear power.

See how easy it is to help protect the environment?

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