NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

On Earth Day, Concentrate On The Gains

April 22, 1999

April 22 is Earth Day and environmental activists will again use it to further their agendas. But experts point out that real progress has been made in cleaning up the environment -- not necessarily because of governmental rules and regulations, but because of advances in technology and unprecedented economic growth.

  • Since 1976, lead pollutants in the air have fallen by 97 percent, while carbon monoxide is down 66 percent.
  • Sulfur dioxide pollution is also down 66 percent, and there is a decline of 38 percent in nitrogen oxides.
  • There is now 30 percent less ozone in the air, and since 1988 particulate matter has fallen 25 percent.

Progress was being made before the major environmental laws were passed during the 1970s, according to experts. Sulfur dioxide levels were already down by about one-third before the first federal Clean Air Act was passed in 1970.

Levels of so-called settleable dust in Pittsburgh dropped from more than 120 tons per square mile in 1925 to 40 tons in 1965 -- again before the Clean Air Act.

Source: Editorial, "Socialist Green Vs. Capitalist Green," Investor's Business Daily, April 21, 1999.


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