NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canada's Improving Environmental Indicators

April 27, 2004

Despite gloomy portrayals, Canada's environment has made improved tremendously over the past 30 years, says the Fraser Institute.

The trend, says Fraser, has been driven by economic growth and technological advancements. As society progresses, it develops both a higher level of environmental awareness and a greater ability to protect the environment. Moreover, many Canadians are unaware that the majority of environmental trends have been positive for decades:

  • Between 1974 and 1999, ambient levels of carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide have fallen by 83 percent and 72 percent.
  • Levels of DDE (a chemical byproduct of DDT) and PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) have dropped by at least 80 and 85 percent, respectively, in each of the Great Lakes over the last three decades.
  • Though harvest volume has increased, Canadian forests are not disappearing and in fact have grown by 4 percent in volume since 1979.

Though some would use scare tactics to garner support for an ever-expanding regulatory state, the reality is that progress so far has been overwhelmingly positive. Such progress is likely to occur in developing countries as they open themselves up to free trade, acquire advanced technologies, and develop the wealth necessary to afford environmental improvements, says Fraser.

Source: Liv Fredricksen and Kenneth Green, "The Case for Environmental Optimism", Fraser Forum, The Fraser Institute, January 2004.


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