Commentary

Happy Earth Day!

Turn your sarcasm censors off. It really is a happy time, after all, things are getting better: [T]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency–itself created three decades ago partly as a response to Earth Day celebrations–had this to say: “Since 1970, total U.S. population increased 29 percent, vehicle miles traveled increased 121 percent, and the gross domestic product (GDP) increased 104 percent. During that same period, notable reductions in air quality concentrations and emissions took place.” Since 1970, ambient levels of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide have fallen by 75 percent, while total suspended particulates like smoke, soot, and dust have been cut by 50 percent since the 1950s. Reason’s Ron Bailey, looking at Earth Day, Then and Now. Still, many don’t want to believe the good news. Headlines like this one (sorry the link now only goes to the archive summary) from the NY Times are part of the reason: Clear Skies No More for Millions as Pollution Rule Expands It’s not that we’ve suddenly lost clear skies, it’s that the new EPA standards are so much tougher that passing becomes tougher. When a student passes algebra, then struggles with calculus, we don’t say he’s getting dumber. Air quality standards are getting more stringent, but that shouldn’t make us forget the big picture–our air is getting cleaner, and there’s no way back.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.