I would like to begin this blog by with a disclaimer of sorts, emphasizing that the following consists of a majority of my own observations, and not necessarily fact.
Upon logging onto the City of Irvine's website to research my local government, I was bombarded by claims of Irvine being "ranked as one of the country's 'smarter cities' by the Natural Resources Defense Council for its strides in environmental stewardship, sustainable growth, and livability." Now, maybe I am just spoiled to currently reside in a college town full of student activism, but I do not see what the Natural Resources Defense Council is talking about. Sure, the website boasts of offering incentives for those who properly dispose of compact fluorescent light bulbs, and tips on green building guidelines, but are these tips and videos what really make up the environmental movement? The reason I see such environmental consciousness at my college campus is because students have demanded change. I realize that comparing a fairly large city like Irvine to a college town like Davis may be unfair. But, if the residents of an area, whether they are students or families, do not take an active role in being environmental, then Irvine's efforts are wasted. No matter how many free light bulbs you give away, or energy saving tips (that would save people money as well), it comes down to a simple lack of initiative.
People in cities like Irvine are concerned with safety, and families, and while they may recycle their plastic water bottles, they are still buying disposable bottles instead of one reusable one. They may buy a hybrid car and feel proud, but then buy their son a Hummer. This sort of environmental thought stinks of hypocrisy, and these people don't even know they are doing anything wrong. The people of Irvine often mean well, they are just not necessarily doing well. They see the environmental movement as a faraway fight and often think in a small term sense, believing for example that offshore drilling would be a good thing because it would help their family, and not realizing the damage caused by such acts. People here will turn on their sprinklers, wide eyed and amazed at how beautiful their lawns are, all the while not knowing that the excess water from those sprinklers runs through the drains to the ocean and pollutes. They ride by shopping centers and city parks and are proud of how well landscaped their city is, not even knowing the effort put forth to get places to look aesthetically pleasing. And even if the government does use recycled water (which I believe they do in Irvine), the citizens are unaware and without a care. They are the kind of people that skim news articles and believe they understand them.
Now, I know that this reeks of idealism. After all, the government can really only do so much and I applaud the City of Irvine's efforts and realize that they are doing much more than most other cities in the U.S. And maybe I am spoiled to live in a town full of students who demand that buses use clean natural gas, or hydrogen natural gas, and insist that recycling bins be present next to every trash can. But, I cannot help but insist that this is what every town should have: people that demand change and a government that meets the demands of its citizens. In the case of Irvine, it seems that the government has a lot to offer, but it is the people that have some catching up to do.