Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day!

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, the American Enterprise Institute and the Pacific Research Institute are out today with their annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators. Despite the scare talk of groups like the Sierra Club, after four years of President Bush in the White House and Republican control of Congress, the environment is actually doing well.

Just in time for Earth Day on April 22, the American Enterprise Institute and the Pacific Research Institute are out today with their annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators. Despite the scare talk of groups like the Sierra Club, after four years of President Bush in the White House and Republican control of Congress, the environment is actually doing well.

“Air pollution fell again in the United States to the lowest level ever recorded,” the report says. “Bald Eagles, whales, some ocean fish stocks, and U.S. forestlands all showed increases in numbers. And the latest federal study found that wetlands in the United States are at last expanding, reversing three centuries of decline.”

Even some traditional environmentalists are starting to rethink things. “It seems that environmentalists have a bit of a reputation for being holier-than-thou,” writes Lou Bendrick on the Web site Grist.org, a Seattle-based environmental news magazine. “In our zeal to save the planet, we both scare and bore our fellow citizens, who see us as righteous beyond reason.”

As this year’s Index points out, even liberals or “orthodox environmentalists” are coming around to the view that “economic growth is the cornerstone of environmental protection,” and there is “growing recognition of the need to embrace more decentralization of environmental efforts.” The Index cites President Clinton’s EPA director, who said, “We believe that people know what’s best for their own communities and, given the facts, they themselves will determine what is best to protect the public health and the environment.”

Clean air and clean rivers and healthy forests are the sort of things that people from across the political spectrum can agree are desirable. That there’s increasing bipartisan consensus that the way to progress is through economic growth and decentralization is good news for both the economy and the environment. Something to smile about this Earth Day.

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Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.