In the worldwide environmental crisis we are now living it's sometimes much easier to look beyond our local communities to see the error of our human ways: melting icecaps with stranded Polar bears, Texas-sized floating islands of plastic in the Pacific, depletion of unthinkably large underground freshwater aquifers. But every global environmental issue before us has been brought into existence by the cumulative effect of poor decisions made in communities, just like ours, all around the world. We Coloradans are just one tiny fraction of the human race, but our power to make positive change is just as great as our power to contribute to environmental destruction.
Far from the naturalist image often portrayed in tourism advertisements, the state of Colorado is showing no signs of slowing its long-held pro-development attitude at the expense of the current citizens and the natural environment. The predominant water utility in the densely populated urban corridor along the Front Range, Denver Water, seeks to syphon even more water from the already overstressed headwaters of the Colorado River and increase its water storage reservoirs. Meanwhile, new, water-thirsty, sprawl developments are planned which would sacrifice the scenic Foothills. And private developers continue to push for the building of a foreign-funded toll road through the infamous plutonium-polluted Rocky Flats site. All in the name of economic growth and with a blind eye toward the future.
Policies governing developments such as these could curb environmental destruction while promoting smart economic growth simply by creating incentives for sustainable development. The truth is, smart growth isn't a new concept. Colorado is lagging many years behind. With a little knowledge, we can change our local and state-wide policies. And by changing our community, we change the world.