To make matters even worse, multinational corporations that have a vested interest in preserving the status quo--for example, those associated with the fossil fuel industry--have been spending millions of dollars to influence environmental legislation and to spread misinformation about issues like climate change. And there's some evidence that this campaign is working: serious environmental legislation hasn't been passed in years and the public is less concerned than ever about environmental issues.
At times it might seem that there is no hope for future generations....But that's not really true.
All around the world, there are committed men and women who have decided to fight for the well-being of the planet and work in the interests of future generations. The rise of the Internet and the advent of social media is also making it easier for these passionate individuals to raise public attention about ecological problems.
But there is a limit to what the individual can do alone.
That's why it's extremely important to join forces and to work in solidarity with others who are committed to solving our environmental problems. Here's just a few concrete ways that you can help:
- Get informed about environmental issues. Getting informed is always the best first step in working to solve any problem. The Internet has tons of extremely helpful sites that you can use to inform yourself about the issues affecting the environment. Yale University's Environment 360 site, for example, has articles written by top scholars in the field of Environmental Studies. Other useful on-line resources include OnEarth Magazine, Environmental Protection, Audubon Magazine, EMagazine, and Grist, to name but a few.
- Find a cause that energizes you. There are so many environmental issues that are vitally important that one can spread oneself too thin trying to work on all of them. Our recommendation: pick one issue that you really feel passionate about and focus on that. You'll be more effective if you have a focus and will be less likely to become an eco-dabbler.
- Join a respectable environmental organization. If all you do is pay annual dues, you will still be helping to financially support this organization and the work that it does. Best of all your annual dues will probably be tax-deductible! A list of reputable environmental organizations has been included below for your reference.
- Get involved (just a bit). Of course, it's not just enough for people to join organizations and pay dues. You actually have to commit yourself to the work that these organizations do. Sometimes this might involve a petition campaign; other times it might mean turning out for some mass rally. Once again, however, we'd advise you to be selective in how much you decide to take on. If everyone does their small bit, everyone--and the planet itself--benefits tremendously. The key, however, is to commit yourself to contributing consistently over a long period of time.
This list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive. These are just a few of the organizations that we think are worth supporting, because of the amazing work that they do:
- NRDC - one of the largest and most powerful environmental advocacy organizations in the country.
- PETA - the mother of all animal rights organizations.
- Greenpeace - founded in 1971, Greenpeace is one of the world's most prominent organizations for environmental activism.
- Sierra Club - organization dedicated to the protection of wilderness.
- World Wildlife Fund - the world's leading conservation society, WWF operates in over 100 countries to protect wildlife and the environment.
- Occupy Wall Street - not necessarily an environmental organization, but OWS takes on the corporate interests that are responsible for many of our ecological problems today and, for that reason alone, is worth supporting.