Established April 22nd in the U.S. in 1970 through the activism of a few congressmen and naturalists, Earth Day would be an annual day to remember man’s moral obligation to protect and conserve the earth’s bounty and beauty of natural resources – thus was born the cause of environmentalism. What started as a virtuous cause promoting individual awareness and conservation, environmentalism has become for most of us a responsible civic lifestyle accommodation, for others a personal identity, cult or religion, still others a convenient sales credential.
But sadly, as typical for all aging progressive movements, environmentalism lost its virtue and scientific footing when insurgent and partisan political forces corrupted the movement at the end of the 20th century. This corruption is the thesis of my two published books and speaking programs on ecopolitics, and my motivation to be the Los Angeles Ecopolitics Examiner columnist for over five years.
Progressive “green” environmentalism has perversely passed from green awareness to the green hysteria of climate change and a politically-corrupt “war on carbon”; from prudent regulatory controls on air, water, toxics and land use to global energy and food austerity; from peaceful protests to radical eco-terrorism and endless lawsuits by partisan nonprofit eco-groups subsidized by taxpayers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants. Today’s gratuitous and politically-partisan green-government regulations inflate the costs of all goods, services, activities and energies, and kill jobs and prosperity. The “war on carbon” is a “war on prosperity.”
The good done by environmentalism and the science-based government regulations it supported are remarkable:
• Pollution levels in the U.S. have been falling for decades as the nation's population and economy have grown. Overall air pollution levels dropped 62% from 1990 to 2012, while GDP grew 69% and population climbed 26%. Also, air pollution emissions have declined -- carbon monoxide, soot, sulfur dioxide, ozone, lead and others are generally within EPA's regulatory safety thresholds. The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide levels have also been dropping;
• Natural water quality and drinking water have improved over the past several decades. And U.S. per-capita water use has declined 30% since 1975;
• There are about 20 million more acres of forest land now than there were 20 years ago, according to the U.S. Forest Service;
• Levels of toxic and hazardous air pollutants have dropped 88% since 1970. Nitrogen oxides, a smog forming agent, are also down. Levels of toxic benzene air pollution have dropped 66% over the past two decades. In once smog-bound Los Angeles, air quality gains have been even more impressive. Since 1980, L.A. has cut in half the number of times it exceeded the EPA's current smog standard.
So, after over 40 years of aggressive and costly local, state and federal government environmental controls, and public accommodations that now have solved most environmental problems, or securely placed them under active management, let’s just say “Mission Accomplished” on Earth Day.
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