Working with nature: Implementing a New Environmental Master Plan

A series of natural disasters all over the world illustrates the need for mankind to better co-exist with nature. The worldwide onslaught of powerful hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, and floods has shaken our existing beliefs in man’s current environmental policies. These events and disasters have reminded us that we need to plan our world, keeping the environment in mind. Mother Nature cannot and will not be ignored any longer.

“The growth of large population centers, the industrialization of much of our agriculture, and our fascination with short-term economic return have left any long-term interest in the environment on the back burner,” says John M. Tettemer, civil engineer, environmentalist, and author of Creating the National Environmental Master Plan—2006 (Juniper Springs Press, 2005). “The result is that we have no clear vision and no real plan.”

To address this lack of focus, Tettemer advocates the implementation of a common-sense comprehensive master plan, one that respects man’s desires and nature’s requirements. “It is time to replace regulation with cooperation by implementing a clear vision of how man and nature will co-exist,” Tettemer says. “We need to bring together those currently involved in all levels of environmental regulation and use their expertise to develop the National Environmental Master Plan. It’s time to centralize the currently scattered responsibility for environmental management into the hands of secretaries of the environment at the local, state, and federal levels.”

Tettemer cites examples of successful regional environmental planning at the local level that can be used as guides for assembling the National Environmental Master Plan. He advocates a return to the development of locally prepared regional environmental plans. “We need to centralize authority over the problem and reassign environmental protection to local government under state and federal supervision,” Tettemer says.

Our current environmental protection strategy is out of date since it is based on the regulation of possible near-future impacts without a comprehensive view of what a sustainable long-term relationship between man and nature looks like. Tettemer implores us think of the environment in a different manner than we are normally accustomed to. “It is time to honor the environment we rely on by planning our relationship with it the same way we do roads, sewers, rivers, the Internet, and social programs,” he says. “We should acknowledge that our long-term relationship with Nature has not been given a place in our urban planning, and get to work on rectifying this oversight.”

If we want to make the sweeping changes necessary, we have to start with our politicians. “The first step is to encourage one or many elected public officials across the country to step forward and declare themselves in favor of a locally developed, nationally administered Environmental Master Plan,” says Tettemer. “We must remember that few will welcome the change, but that change must come. We will upset the delicate status quo, but only for a short while, then re-establish balance as the regional objectives for the environment are adopted into the plan.”

A new National Environmental Master Plan can serve as a shining example and an enduring legacy for generations to come. “By comprehensively planning our interrelationship with nature, we can set an example to the whole world,” Tettemer says. “We need to keep in mind that we will be leaving to our children what we create. That must include attention to nature, as she will demand it in one way or another.”

From the March 15-21, 2006, issue

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