Now that the environmental posers have wrapped up their Earth Day griping, let’s take a look at some actual environmental facts. America’s air and water are cleaner now than at any time since Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970.

Since 1970, EPA data shows that even as Gross Domestic Product grew nearly 275 percent, vehicle miles traveled grew 191 percent, population grew 60 percent, and energy consumption grew 49 percent, aggregate emissions of regulated criteria air pollutants declined by 74 percent. For instance since 1990:

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) has declined by 74 percent
  • Nitrogen Dioxide has declined by 57 percent
  • Ozone is down 21 percent
  • Particulate Matter 10 microns (PM10) measured over 24 hours has declined 26 percent
  • Sulfur Dioxide has declined by 89 percent

In addition, since 2010, lead has declined 82 percent, and more than 95 percent since the 1970s. Annually measured small particulate matter (PM2.5) has declined 39 percent since 2000. And PM 2.5 measured over 24 hours is down 34 percent since 2000.

In a Real Clear Politics Earth Day op-ed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Wheeler notes the amount of toxics released into the environment have declined dramatically, writing:

“In 1970, more than 40 percent of the nation’s drinking water systems failed to meet basic health standards. Now, over 92 percent of community water systems meet all health-based standards, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“During the past half century, the United States became a global leader in clean air. Particulate matter levels in our air are now five times lower than the global average, seven times lower than China, and measurably cleaner than France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.”

For those who worry about the fictitious climate crisis, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen 20 percent since 2007. Also, methane emissions declined 18.1 percent between 1990 and 2018.

While environmental doom and gloom may get the headlines in newspapers, magazine, and on TV, the truth is the environment is regularly improving, without the need for imposing economy-destroying wind and solar power on American consumers. That is a cause for celebration, not whining.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.


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