We all know the phrase. It isn't easy being green. Kermit was a wise frog. But maybe it's not so hard after all. Don't lose hope, Kermit (and other similarly-woed frogs of the world).
When we talk about the environment, we often create for ourselves a dichotomy between economics and environmental protection. And there is some merit in that. We impose oil taxes to increase the cleanliness (such as it is) and to incentivize reduced consumption. Green alternatives for products can be more expensive. Not everyone can afford a Prius as opposed to an older, less fuel-efficient model.
But there is also so much opportunity for job creation and innovation when we fully commit ourselves to environmental protection in ways that go beyond images of polar bears in melting ice or taking the bus instead of driving (if your city of residence has such infrastructure in place). And even as other nations have outpaced us on health care and education and certain technologies, Americans pride themselves on their innovation, tenacity, finding pathbreaking alternatives to the status quo.
There are few policies as ripe for innovation as environmental policy. From wind and solar technologies to finding new sources of alternative energy that we have not even yet considered, there are innumerable opportunities for those with scientific skills and craftsmanship to think outside the box, or better yet, beyond the box. Finding affordable ways to manufacture products sustainably provides other such opportunities to bring new ideas and visions to the table, some of which may well fail, but some of which may allow us some meaningful breakthroughs so that we can collectively work to leave the planet better than how we found it (or at least not considerably worse).
There inevitably are costs of compliance with environmental regulations, and some small businesses may feel the pinch. But if possible, it would behoove us all, especially amid the policy rhetoric of the coming months of the presidential election to set aside the false dichotomy of economic security versus environmental protection. Without a planet with breathable air and drinkable water, the economic impacts may begin to pale in comparison. With economic investment in hiring smart people to develop ways to limit our environmental impact, we can have both. The ball is in our court.