NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 25, 2006

Environmentally speaking, America has had a very good third of a century; the economy has grown and pollutants and their impacts upon society are substantially down, says Pete du Pont, chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Since 1970, the year of the first Earth Day, America's population has increased by 42 percent, the country's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has grown 195 percent, the number of cars and trucks in the United States has more than doubled, and the total number of miles driven has increased by 178 percent.

But during these 35 years of growing population, employment, and industrial production, the Environmental Protection Agency reports, the environment has substantially improved:

  • Emissions of the six principal air pollutants have decreased by 53 percent.
  • Carbon monoxide emissions have dropped from 197 million tons per year to 89 million; nitrogen oxides from 27 million tons to 19 million, and sulfur dioxide from 31 million to 15 million.
  • Particulates are down 80 percent, and lead emissions have declined by more than 98 percent.

When it comes to visible environmental improvements, America is also making substantial progress, says du Pont:

  • The number of days the city of Los Angeles exceeded the one-hour ozone standard has declined from just under 200 a year in the late 1970s to 27 in 2004.
  • The Pacific Research Institute's Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that "U.S. forests expanded by 9.5 million acres between 1990 and 2000."
  • While wetlands were declining at the rate of 500,000 acres a year at mid-century, they "have shown a net gain of about 26,000 acres per year in the past five years," according to the institute.

Source: Pete du Pont, "Don't Be Very Worried: The truth about "global warming" is much less dire than Al Gore wants you to think,", May 23, 2006; and "2006 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, 11th Edition," Pacific Research Institute, April 2006.

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