environmental protection

Despite big environmental challenges, Earth Day signifies hope for humanity

A climate catastrophe roars ahead unchecked. The oceans are turning so acidic they threaten to wipe out sea creatures at the base of the food chain. Bulldozers routinely mangle wetlands. The list goes on. And on. And on.

When Earth Day rolls around, the adage recurs that reporters coming onto the environment beat ought to get a standard-issue Prozac prescription. Because we have to chronicle all this. These examples can only be viewed as colossal failures of our species' effort to live on this planet God gave us without ruining it for future generations.

And yet, in watching the excellent PBS documentary "Earth Days" reviewing the environmental movement on the eve of this 40th anniversary of Earth Day, I had to say that I'm encouraged by the progress homo sapiens has made in my lifetime.

In this country, at least, the air and water are demonstrably cleaner than when millions took took to the streets in 1970 to demand that the government crack down on pollution. We understand that we can't pave over the entire countryside.

And there is an understanding -- increasingly more pervasive -- that we must balance what we need here today with what future generations require if this civlization is to endure.

Even businesses -- at least the forward-thinking ones -- are getting it: If your world is so out of whack that civilization as we know it is destroyed... well, you aren't going to have many customers.

Why do environmental regulators soft-pedal truly disturbing findings?

rm iwest mugIt's not like we needed another study to tell us that air pollution levels in some places are high enough to make people sick and even kill them. But the way New Jersey environmental regulators handled the public release of  this new study is noteworthy because it's a classic case of government soft-pedaling some truly disturbing news.