Earth Day doomsayers need to get their facts right

Earth Day doomsayers need to get their facts right

Kansas City Hispanic News (Kansas City, MO), April 30, 2008*
Holmen Courier (West Salem, WI), April 24, 2008
Mundo L.A. (Van Nuys, CA), April 24, 2008

With all the reminders to recycle, shrink our carbon footprint, and reduce our consumption of goods, just about everyone feels guilty on Earth Day.

Indeed, if you listen to the three presidential candidates, you couldn’t be faulted for thinking that a cabal of greedy oil executives was bent on putting the future of our planet at risk.

But planet Earth is doing just fine. And it’s the world’s richest countries — led by the United States — that are doing the most to preserve and protect the environment.

Take this: Over the last 30 years, air pollution emissions from American manufacturers have fallen by about 60 percent, even as real manufacturing output has increased by 70 percent, according to a recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that there’s been a 60-percent reduction in levels of sulfur dioxide, the chemical that causes acid rain, in the eastern United States since 2000. And there’s been a 50-percent drop in emissions of nitrogen oxide, a prime contributor to respiratory illness.

In Los Angeles, air-quality regulators have noted a significant decline in health risk from air pollution. In the 1970s, Los Angeles residents went through nearly 200 high-risk pollution days each year. These days, the city has fewer than 25 annually.

There’s good news on the ground, too. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reported that the United States has been gaining wetlands at a rate of about 32,000 acres per year over the last decade.

American water resources have enjoyed a resurgence as well. Rare fish species have returned to the Detroit River for the first time in nearly a century.

But what about global warming? Isn’t the United States single-handedly turning Greenland into a tropical paradise?

Not really. Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” looks to have been little more than “convenient fiction.” U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions actually fell by 1.5 percent in 2006 — a first for a non-recessionary year.

Meanwhile, Europe’s finger-wagging on climate change hasn’t matched its actions. Between 1997 and 2004, the last year for which relevant data are available, GHG emissions from Kyoto Protocol signatories increased 21.1 percent. Emissions from non-Kyoto nations, by contrast, increased only 10 percent.

And from the United States? Just a 6.6-percent increase.

Unfortunately, the public dialogue on this issue is dominated by environmental doomsayers who ignore these facts. And they’re spearheading all sorts of dangerous regulatory efforts. All three presidential candidates have promised to push for restrictive anti-global-warming measures if elected.

Case in point: the increasingly popular goal of reducing worldwide GHG emissions by 80 percent by 2050. At least a dozen U.S. states — including New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts — have signed onto the program, either through an executive order or non-binding resolution.

Al Gore supports this proposal. And he may have the opportunity to implement it nationwide, as Barack Obama has expressed interest in adding Gore to his cabinet, if elected. But Obama and Gore fail to realize that mandating a drop in emissions of that magnitude by 2050 would wreak havoc on the economy.

The rush to rein in GHG emissions is all the more backwards when you consider that America’s environment has improved precisely because of the nation’s economic growth.

Growing economies allocate resources more efficiently and produce new technologies that strengthen their ability to control pollution. Hard-and-fast caps on emissions amount to hard-and-fast caps on growth, making everyone poorer and handicapping one of the best ways to improve the environment.

So as you celebrate this Earth Day, remember that the sky isn’t falling. The reality is that America is making great strides in its quest to improve the environment.
Sally C. Pipes is president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, which publishes the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators each year on Earth Day.

*This article was also printed in the following publications. Title of article may vary.

Floodwood Forum (MN), April 24, 2008
Plainsman Herald (Springfield, CO), April 24, 2008
Philippine Mabuhay News (National City, CA), April 24, 2008
Onalaska Community Life (West Salem, WI), April 24, 2008
Twin City Times (Lewiston, ME), April 24, 2008
Coulee News (West Salem, WI), April 24, 2008
Star-Banner (Ocala, FL), April 22, 2008
Greenville Community News (DE), April 22, 2008
Press-Mentor (Newton, IL), April 22, 2008
Cherokee Post (Centre, AL), April 22, 2008
La Prensa (Austin, TX), April 22, 2008
Waxahachie Daily Light (TX), April 21, 2008
Atlanta Inquirer (GA), April 19, 2008
Ocilla Star (Ocilla, GA), April 18, 2008
Wamego Times (Wamego, KS), April 18, 2008
Sierra County Sentinel (Truth or Consequences, NM), April 18, 2008
Sentinel Weekly News (Corona, CA), April 18, 2008
Brandywine East Community News (Hockessin, DE), April 18, 2008
Republican (Oakland, MD), April 17, 2008
Northeast Sun (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Coalfield Progress (Norton, VA), April 17, 2008
Lincoln County Journal, Inc. (Troy, MO), April 17, 2008
Latimer County News-Tribune (Wilburton, OK), April 17, 2008
The Sacramento Union (CA), April 17, 2008
Gazette Advertiser (Rhinebeck, NY), April 17, 2008
Harlem Valley Times (Millbrook, NY), April 17, 2008
Hyde Park Townsman (Hyde Park, NY), April 17, 2008
Register Herald (Millbrook, NY), April 17, 2008
Louisville Herald (OH), April 17, 2008
Millbrook Round Table (Millbrook, NY), April 17, 2008
Eastern Group Publications, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Clearwater Gazette and Beach Views (FL), April 17, 2008
Sebeka Menahga Review Messenger (Sebeka, MN), April 17, 2008
Eastside Sun (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Commerce Comet (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Monterey Park Comet (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Montebello Comet (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Wyvernwood Chronicle (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
East Los Angeles Brooklyn-Belvedere Comet (LA, CA), April 17, 2008
City Terrace Comet (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Mexican American Sun (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Northeast Sun (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Bell Gardens Sun (Los Angeles, CA), April 17, 2008
Ely Times (AZ), April 16, 2008
Vienna Times (Vienna, IL), April 16, 2008
Turlock Journal (Turlock, CA), April 16, 2008
Citizen Standard (Valley View, PA), April 16, 2008
Milan Standard (Milan, MO), April 16, 2008
Jefferson County Journal (Adams, NY), April 16, 2008
Vindicator (Liberty, TX), April 16, 2008
Liberty County Times (Chester, MT), April 16, 2008
Country Messenger (Scandia, MN), April 16, 2008
Laurel Outlook (Laurel, MT), April 16, 2008
Jefferson County Journal (Adams, NY), April 16, 2008
Power County Press (American Falls, ID), April 16, 2008
Intermountain News (Burney, CA) April 16, 2008 p.5
Country Today (Eau Claire, WI), April 15, 2008
Jersey County Journal (Jerseyville, IL), April 15, 2008
Spanish Journal (Milwaukee, WI), April 14, 2008
Wayne County Press (Fairfield, IL), April 14, 2008
Hudson Valley Black Press (Newburgh, NY), April 14, 2008
Advisor & Source Newspapers (Shelby Township, MI), April 13, 2008
The Post-Searchlight (Bainbridge, GA), April 12, 2008
Jersey County Star (Jerseyville, IL) April 11, 2008
The Daily Citizen (Dalton, GA), April 10, 2008
Voice of South Marion (Belleview, FL), April 10, 2008
Journal Press, Inc. (King George, VA) April 9, 2008

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