Being Mindful of the Good News on the Environment

Faren Dancer - AgeNation's Expert on Environmental SustaiabilityBy Faren Dancer

There seems to be a lot of discussion lately about how things are speeding up on Planet Earth, energies are intensifying with shorter intervals between memorable events, both personally and collectively. It’s becoming more apparent that thought and action creates corresponding outcomes, and because the boomerang affect appears to be coming back around more quickly, there’s a flicker of hope that an expanded awareness of how energy works may, in time, move into the mass consciousness. In the meanwhile, it pays to remain optimistic even in the face of environmental catastrophe, personal hardship or a lessened sense of security. Despite all the reasons to feel reluctant, nervous, stressed or discouraged, (one could reduce the impact by turning off Fox News) it’s important to keep one’s focus on things that are uplifting. Remembering to count blessings, being mindful of avoiding negative thought forms, taking time to focus on others or worthy causes, or merely marveling in a New Mexico sunset, are proven ways to stem the rising tide of uncertainty. An inner knowing of our eternal relationship to the Universe allows for a more pleasant, less compressed experience. We can relax a little bit and marvel in the wonders of life’s journey.

After this year long onslaught of depressing environmental news, (do you believe it’s already been one year since the BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico?) there’s certainly a bit more attention being placed on humankind’s capacity to run the show or ruin the party. The essential lack of perception regarding the Unity principal (oneness) is compounded by a constant bombardment of propaganda, nationalism and exploitation, both of the Earth and its varied inhabitants. But despite the wave of uneasiness caused by wars, financial chaos or natural catastrophes, there’s a wealth of positives to be seen, if we take the time to look. Despite the rumor that it doesn’t sell newspapers or arouse those negative emotions that are easily stimulated and mostly addictive (which does sell newspapers)… sit back, relax and enjoy an uplifting ride into the, somewhat forgotten, realm of… Good News!

Starting with the air we breathe, here are some noteworthy events of the past year as reported by the American Lung Association. December 31, 2010 marked the 40th anniversary of the Clean Air Act. America has much cleaner air than it did in 1970 thanks to this landmark public health protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s capacity over the years to enforce it. We’ve also seen the first new limits in 39 years on two dangerous pollutants: sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. Cleanup is now being proposed by the EPA for numerous power plants across the country spewing massive amounts of toxins into the air, this includes the coal burning power plants in Navajo country. I recently had the privilege of hosting on GREEN TALK RADIO representatives of Navajo Nation, the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association to discuss the coal plants in and around the Navajo reservation, (five total), its health implications and the current EPA hearings looking to address the concerns. Other recent advancements include cleanup of dirty diesel engines, stronger limits on toxics from cement kilns, cleanup of ocean-going ships steering for U.S. ports, new limits on tailpipe exhaust and 160,000 lives saved this past year due to the Clean Air Act.

Despite the discussion of animal extinctions, on a much happier note, there were also a large number of wildlife discoveries, including a new monkey in Brazil, a new species of lemur in Madagascar, and a new ape in Southeast Asia.

Here’s some of the top good environmental news stories as reported by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

Legislators in the U.S. House and Senate introduced long-awaited bills to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act, there may possibly be enough consensus on the law’s deficiencies to make action possible in 2011, despite a more conservative Congress.

How about safer and healthier food for everyone – the Food and Drug Administration gained important new powers to monitor and inspect food producers and to order recalls of tainted food. President Obama signed a bill that renewed and greatly expanded the Child Nutrition Act.

We’re beginning to take a hard look at fracking. In New York, outgoing Governor David Paterson extended the state’s moratorium on gas drilling through 2011.

Californians stand up for their climate change law-Californians voted overwhelmingly to reject climate change denial.

San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to inquire that cell phone retailers provide point-of-sale information on how much radiation each model releases.

Ditching plastic bags, coast to coast- laws that ban or charge for the use of plastic grocery bags are gaining popularity.

Some brands take the lid off cleaning ingredients – In 2010, the cleaning products industry launched a voluntary initiative to begin disclosing more of what’s in their products.

The Nature Conservancy and the Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the State of Montana and the Federal government, completed the final phase of the Montana Legacy Project. With a price tag close to $500 million, a critical 310,000 acres of forest, rivers and lakes of the Crown of the Continent will be conserved forever. The project not only benefits wildlife like grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine and trout, but also people whose livelihoods depend on this spectacular place. On the other side of the planet, the Conservancy teamed up with China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection to create an expansive conservation blueprint that will help conservation practitioners develop large-scale plans and priorities for protecting the country’s land and water resources.

Fuel-Efficient Cars and SUVs – This year, 21 cars, SUVs, station wagons, and hatchbacks got better than 30 mpg. This includes models by Ford, Honda, Lexus, Volvo and Jaguar to name few. Hybrid and electric cars got a lot cooler—and more accessible. Chevy’s Volt even the title of “Car of the Year” from both Motor Trend and Automobile magazines; Green Car Journal dubbed it the “Green Car of the Year” as well. The cost of batteries for hybrid cars has fallen sharply in the past year, while reliability, as well as recyclability, have made tremendous improvement. This is quite a leap from where we were at just a few short years ago.

There is a great tendency to emphasize what’s wrong with the world, an endless list of paradoxical and cold-hearted occurrences that generate great cause for concern, but it is our choice as to where we place our attention. Is the glass half full or half empty? How long is it appropriate to look toward the problem, before we shift that time spent to being engaged in solutions? Again, no easy answer, but staying in a place of gratitude helps generate the future we choose to experience.

So, in the meanwhile, let’s pause for a moment and acknowledge the progress we’ve made, the entrepreneurial spirit that drives innovation, and all the countless people, organizations, agencies and businesses that are creating much of the good news we desire. While we’re at it, let’s go out there and create some good news of our own!

Please tune into GREEN TALK RADIO each week an AgeNation Radio, and you can also contact Faren at

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