“Trump Right to Contest Prophets of Environmental Doom”


By Dr. Jay Lehr & Tom Harris

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Tuesday, U.S. President Donald Trump called for a rejection of “predictions of the apocalypse.” Completely at odds with the warning by 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg at the same meeting that the world “is currently on fire,” Trump told the world’s decision-makers said that this is a time for optimism, not pessimism.

Trump is right, of course. No where is this better demonstrated than in America where proper environmental protection has been going on for the past half-century.

1968 began a major legislative effort by scientists to bring knowledge of our environment to bear on procedures and regulations that could staunch the unnecessary outpouring of industrial, municipal and domestic waste into the air we breathe, the water we drink and swim in, the water wells we pump from and the soil in which we grow our food.

Between 1972 and 1980, Congress passed a safety net of environmental laws that adequately protected every medium of our environment. They spawned an environmental improvement and protection program during the ensuing two decades that became the most successful grass roots, self-improvement program in our nation’s history.

Today, the United States enjoys its cleanest environment ever, and by any measure, the best in the world.

The air in every major city in America has vastly improved as contaminants such a sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, lead, turbidity and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have declined dramatically and continue to do so. The EPA asserts, while showing the below graph, “This progress occurred while the U.S. economy continued to grow, Americans drove more miles and population and energy use increased.” 

“Between 1970 and 2018, the combined emissions of the six common pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10, SO2, NOx, VOCs, CO and Pb) dropped by 74 percent.” – Environmental Protection Agency.

Most of our rivers and streams are now fishable and swimmable. The Cuyahoga River, near Cleveland, which caught fire in June of 1968, now abounds with pleasure boats and fishing boats. Likewise, the Hudson River in New York State, a veritable sewer in the 1970s, is clean and beautiful again.

You do not often read or hear this great American success story because the environmental movement has been co-opted by left-leaning organizations. It is now controlled by individuals and groups with hidden agendas that barely involve our air, water and soil. These people use the environmental concerns of the public to oppose capitalism, suppress individual rights, and enlarge government. Trump summed up the situation well in Davos:

“These alarmists always demand the same thing – absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.”

Their willing co-conspirators are most of the main stream news media, which has long known that bad news sells best, and the major environmental advocacy groups who package and sell fear to a willing public, apparently genetically wired to believe in the worst outcomes. 

Our technology is constantly able to measure ever smaller concentrations of contaminants in our air and water without explaining the virtual lack of impact such small concentrations have on human health. Fifty years ago, we were lucky to measure contaminants in parts per million. Now we regularly measure everything in parts per trillion which is the equivalent of one second in 32,000 years. Such concentrations are insignificant to our health regardless of the chemical of concern.  

A short list of environmental myths would include conventional wisdom on the impact of global warming, ozone holes, radon, asbestos, electric transmission towers, cell phones, arsenic, nitrates, nuclear power, pesticides, fertilizers, and wood preservatives to name but a few. That is not to say that everything and anything cannot become dangerous at high enough concentrations. They certainly can, but not at the levels commonly set for us by the federal government or fear-mongered to us by environmental advocacy groups.

The battle against overzealous environmentalism will never end, and we may not win, but we must persist in attempting to convince all those in our sphere of influence that the preachers of doom and gloom are simply wrong. Their messages are based merely on political agendas or simple ignorance, rather than sound science. Bravo to President Trump for calling out the prophets of environmental doom.

Dr. Jay Lehr is Senior Policy Advisor with the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). Tom Harris is Executive Director of ICSC.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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