The global environmental movement has by now interested just about anyone with access to news.  From the pages of the UK's Guardian, where calls to "save the planet" are printed virtually daily, to former US Vice President Al Gore's nonstop global warming showmanship, to televised late night entertainment comes the message that life in earth is in danger due to manmade global warming.

The global warming alarm may contain as much hyperbole as it does science.  New evidence shows that for whatever unknown effect increased carbon dioxide emissions may prove to play in climate change, due to a lasting solar minimum the past two years have produced some of the coldest weather in decades.  This Summer the upper United States are experiencing record cool temperatures, with daytime highs in only the mid seventies Farenheit.  Antartic ice is not receding, as is commonly thought, and is actually predictably thickening according to these solar cycles.  Even carbon dioxide emissions, once thought to be substantially varied by man, now appear to be the byproduct of ocean temperature variations brought about by solar fluctuations.

Within this debate the US voter wrestles with a bill just approved by the House of Representatives called "Cap & Trade", which should it pass the Senate and be signed by the President, which is unlikely, would create a vast infrastructure of regulations, costs, and controls on nearly every aspect of civilian life in the United States.  Such sweeping proposed legislation has reinvigorated the grass root activist and throughout the US voters are joining one of the most vocal political debates in memory. 

While the global warming debate will linger, local efforts may be the most effective means to effect lasting environmental restoration.  An enheartening story comes from Seoul South Korea this week about a tiny stream, once paved over and forgotten, but that has been unearthed and released to delight Koreans across the city.  

For half a century, a dark tunnel of crumbling concrete encased more than three miles of a placid stream bisecting this bustling city.

in the industrial era after the Korean War, the stream, by then a rank open sewer, was entombed by pavement and forgotten beneath a lacework of elevated expressways as the city’s population swelled toward 10 million.

Today, after a $384 million recovery project, the stream, called Cheonggyecheon, is liberated from its dank sheath and burbles between reedy banks. Picnickers cool their bare feet in its filtered water, and carp swim in its tranquil pools.

The restoration of the Cheonggyecheon is part of an expanding environmental effort in cities around the world to “daylight” rivers and streams by peeling back pavement that was built to bolster commerce and serve automobile traffic decades ago.

The New York Times goes on to explain how this trend is being repeated elsewhere, including widely in the US:

Cities from Singapore to San Antonio have been resuscitating rivers and turning storm drains into streams. In Los Angeles, residents’ groups and some elected officials are looking anew at buried or concrete-lined creeks as assets instead of inconveniences, inspired partly by Seoul’s example.

Efforts in Seoul and elsewhere aren't strictly environmental in the sense that they deal with what are commonly thought of as environmental issues.
Local conservation like this provides for a return to nature without the politics and controversy surrounding plans to politicize global warming.