Evironmenal Issues


Figure 1.--Pollution causes serious health problem especially with children. Communist countries as wella s developing counries in the singled minded effort to increaase production, just ignored the enviroment. The result was terrible air quality in cities like Peking and Bombay. The result is that these countries are for the first time actually beginning to address the pollution problem.

Environmental issues have assumed increasing atention around the world in recent years. The world population is growing and is having harmful impacts on the environment, meaning the biophysical environment. As result, there is growing interest in environmental protection, meaning protecting the natural environment. In the 20th century the primary issue was pollution with many people facing poor air and water quality. In the 21st century the emphasis has shifted to first global warming and then redefined to climate change. Climate change is hardly new. In fact, our species developed in large as a response to climate change some 2 million years ago. Since the earth developed oceans and atmosphere there has been climate change, much more drastic common change than is the case in modern time. An important part of the climate issue is energy policy. Energy is acritical part of the economy and human well-being. It is only with the move of society beyond man power that human civilization developed and only with the develooment of mechanical power using fosil fuels was the industrail revolution possible meaning the ability of large numbers of humans tomlive prosperous lives. Many today see energy, especially fossil fuels, as a threat to the enviornment. The issue today is the climatic changes have human agency and the rate of change is disturbing. The major concern is greenhouse gases leading to global warming. Another major issue is habitat loss which affects wildlife leading to species extinctions, but also has consequences for climate change and pollution.

Population

The world populpation is growing and is having harmful impacts on the environment, meaning the biophysical environment. As result, there is growing interest in environmental protection, meaning protecting the natural environment.

Climate Change

In the 21st century the emphasis has shifted to first global warming and then redefined to climate change. Climate change is hardly new. In fact, our species developed in large as a response to climate change some 2 million years ago. Since the earth developed oceans and atmosphere there has been climate change, much more drastic common change than is the case in modern time. An imprtant part of the climate issue is energy policy. Energy is a critical part of the economy and human well-being. It is only with the move of society beyond man power that human civilization debeloped and only with the develooment of mechanical power using fosil fuels was the industrial revolution possible meaning the ability of large numbers of humans tomlive prosperous lives. Many today see energy, especially fossil fuels, as a threat to the enviornment. The issue today is the climatic changes have human agency and the rate of change is disturbing. The major concern is greenhouse gases leading to global warming.

Pollution

Pollution is a much more modern problm because it is almost by defiition a product of human socirty. In the 20th century the primary issue was pollution with many people facing poor air and water quality. It should be noted that pollution eas not a new problem. Europe by the medieval era had polluted waterways, not only pollutants but disease acusing organisms. Drinking water was actually dangerous. That is one reason why beer was so important. and the problems were not addressed until the rise of public health reforms (19th century). Water is still not safe in many developing countries. And by that time as a result of the Industrail Revolution air pollution became a problem. Smoestacks all mover Europe bellowed out vast amounts of toxic smoke. London was famous for its smog. The American Boy Scout movement was begun in that smog. America industrial cities and southern California developed smog problems. The use of coal in both indutry and home heating was a maor problem made worse by the intrnal combustiin engine and popuarity of cars. Huge improvements were made after World War II. Today more people enjoy clean air and water than ever before in history. In the United States in the Clear Air and Waters Acts (1970-72) and bew tecnologies have made a huge difference. Especially important has been the shift from coal to natural gas. While the Europeans talk about reducing pollution and spend a great deal of money, it is in America that the most progress as been made. Since 1970 based on 2017 data, the primary pollutents (nitric oxide, ozone particulant matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead) have been reduced over 70 percent. [Rahn] One reason that the public debate focuses so extensively on carbon today, is the huge success in reducing the major pollutants. An ambient concentatiins of these pollutants have declined nearly 65 percent since 1990. And all of this has been accomplished even though the real GDP has increased massively from $5 billion in 1970 to $19 billion in 2018. [Amadeo]. One author tells us, "Each year, most of the country [the United States] has fewer days with 'hazardous air' and, in many places, it is now zero. Fifty years ago, many of America’s rivers and waterways were unsafe to swim in or to consume the fish from — including the Potomac. That has all changed; most rivers have been cleaned up, and seafood from the nation’s waterways is normally safe to eat, not the other way around. The Untied States has made much greater progress than Europe and most of Asia in cleaning up air and water — despite having engaged is less micro-management insisting on un-economic solar or wind farms, etc. " [Rahn] Not only has America made more progress than Western Europe, but after the fall of Communism (1989-91), a carefully guarded secret emerged--the environmental disaters created by Communist authorities ignoring environmental issues.

Habitat Loss

Another major issue is habitat loss which affects wildlife leading to species extinctions, but also has consequences for climate change and pollution.

Sources

Amadeo, Kimberley. "U.S. GDP by year compared to recession and events," June 25, 2019. Ms. Amadeo uses real (inflatiin netral) BEA data. There are decimal issues with the vdata because BEA constantly refines their dat, sometimes going back several years.

Rahn, Richard W. "Where have all the smokestacks gone?" Washington Tines (July 16, 2019), p. B3.











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Created: 4:19 PM 7/16/2019
Last updated: 4:19 PM 7/16/2019