A great number of today’s citizens are aware of ecological and environmental problems caused by pollution, such as smog and global warming. However, though we know about the effects of pollution and have taken steps to minimize this hazard, there is one important area often overlooked when trying to find cheap, simple pollution solutions. This area is the American home. While what we put into our homes and what we do in them contribute greatly to the annual U.S. household energy usage, the design of our homes plays a very important factor, since a poorly-constructed home will use more energy for maintenance, heating, and cooling than a home with an energy-efficient design. If we could reduce the amount of energy used by our homes, we can make a significant contribution to reducing pollution generated from excess energy use. This, as will be shown later, is not a difficult thing to do; there are many ways that we can make our homes more energy-efficient, and most of us naturally like to make improvements to our homes. One of these improvements could be on the design of our homes, since much of our country's energy and funds go toward supplying heat and electricity to homes that could be made more energy-efficient. From this, we see that the design and energy-efficiency of a home are two things that need a second look if we wish to improve environmental health and lead more comfortable, happier lives.
To get a better sense of how we should begin solving our pollution problems, we must first understand the reasons why we tend to produce them in the first place. There appears to be an underlying reason for why humans are naturally energy-inefficient, according to Allaby and Bunyard--perhaps we just happened to evolve that way. The two both claim that we have an innate sense to exploit and consume environmental resources. In prehistoric times, early humans abandoned tree life in search of less competition and more resources on the ground, and we have been doing the same thing ever since, moving into ecosystems and “making the best of whatever [we] found in them” (11). Allaby and Bunyard define this action as opportunism. There is nothing wrong with being opportunistic, as long as this behavior does not harm our well-being. Opportunism has proven to be beneficial to survival; organisms with the most successful adaptations and population numbers such as weeds, bacteria, insects, and many small mammals are opportunistic. As opportunists, humans have been successful in conquering every landmass on earth except for Antarctica, have been able to survive in inhospitable frigid and arid regions, and have even spent months in the lethal conditions of space. However, this same kind of behavior, when unchecked, can prove detrimental to both the social/economic and physical/environmental elements of human well-being (Cloke and Park 35).
For the purpose of improving the quality of our lives, we have relied on using increasingly...