Many of us are environmentally conscientious, and we can easily be overwhelmed by all the potential threats to our environment. We would like to get involved but often are not sure where to begin to make an impact.
We can't take up every environmental cause we care about. How do we choose?
For global causes, most of us donate to those causes that captivate our interest. There are many worthwhile organizations that can use our help, and they do make a difference. World Wildlife Fund and Nature Conservancy are just two examples of such organizations.
Many people make financial contributions to support causes that they care about. Others, however, feel a need to become more directly involved.
What can one do? A lot depends on the issue that stirs your passion. Few of us are willing to become an activist for "Save the Whales" and risk our lives by putting ourselves between a whale and a whaling ship; we might not consider chaining ourselves to trees in order to protest deforestation.
Short of that, however, there is much we can do.
For example, many of us living along the coast are concerned about seismic testing and offshore drilling. We have seen what has happened along the Gulf Coast and would not want anything like that to affect our own shore.
Maybe is it not seen as an immediate problem, because we do not currently see any oil rigs off our coast. But permits are given to companies to explore drilling off the East Coast.
We know from data that seismic testing will devastate our whales, dolphins, and other marine life once the testing begins.
In the Lowcountry, at least we can support our local elected representatives. No matter the political affiliation, on this issue, they are in agreement and opposed to seismic testing and offshore drilling. We can show them support for their bipartisanship, which is rare these days.
We can subscribe to environmental newsletters and action alerts from such organizations as the Coastal Conservation League to keep abreast of issues in our area.
Sometimes we have to accept small partial and incremental victories. The originally proposed over-development of Hilton Head National Golf Course could have had a devastating impact on our local environment. It took strong community activism to get concessions.
We did not stop development altogether, nor was that our goal. We accepted the compromises that were made and thanked our County Council for their willingness to listen and act accordingly.
In sum, we can donate to environmental causes. Volunteer where and when we can. Join informal groups around specific issues. Work with and encourage local nature groups to look beyond their local neighborhoods.
We can also write to our elected officials at all levels. Thank them and give them credit if they took environmentally sound positions, particularly if it might have been a difficult vote for them to make.
Avoid partisanship and blame, and don't underestimate the power of an email, phone call or even an old-fashioned paper letter.
There is much to be done, so let's all strive to do what we can.
John Riolo lives in Moss Creek and is past president of the Nature Club of Moss Creek. firstname.lastname@example.org