Are We Crazy?

I don't think younger folks really comprehend the staggering environmental improvements we have made over the last 40 years.   Virtually every metric you can think of on air and water pollution has improved, not to mention the return to health of a number of high-profile species like the bald eagle.

So I am sure that had you told me in the early seventies that the main toxic threats that the government would be campaigning to protect us from in 2009 were carbon dioxide and salt, I would have thought you were crazy.

  • Streaker

    Ugh! This stuff drives me crazy!

    I've recently suffered from congestive heart failure at the age of 42. One of the things my cardiologist did was put me on a low sodium diet. I never realized how much sodium is either inherent, or added to so much of our food.

    To think that I would dictate to others how much sodium they should eat is incredibly distasteful. The hubris of these elected officials is offensive.

  • http://zoominac.com Matt

    Speaking of bald eagles, until about a year and a half ago, I had never seen one in the wild, and now I've seen 4, including one in downtown Tampa. Perhaps it came to see your Cards playing in the Super Bowl.

    Come to think of it, I'd never seen a coyote until about 3 months ago, and I've now seen three.

  • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com/ Brian Dunbar

    I don’t think younger folks really comprehend the staggering environmental improvements we have made over the last 40 years

    Indeed. My sixteen-year old daughter would not believe that pollution was so bad that the Cuyahoga River used to catch on fire.

    I never realized how much sodium is either inherent, or added to so much of our food.

    My wife had a heart attack a few years ago. Our diet underwent a massive change after, and for the better. It's amazing that food we consumed pre HA now tastes mostly like salt with some food added.

    But I wouldn't presume to tell anyone else they can't have their salt either.

  • deacon

    I don't think you older folks realize the environmental degradation that has taken place over the last 100 years. Don't break you arm patting yourself on the back quite yet.

  • NewEnglandDevil

    deacon - you're ignorant. Both of what the environment used to be like and what it is now. The air in LA used to be more acidic than lemon juice. Breathing in the air would literally burn your lungs. The environment continues to improve throughout the US thanks to our improvement in managing it.

  • Will H

    Donora, PA Smog Kills 20 October, 1948

    The Monongahela used to be so acid no fish could live in it, now there is plenty of fish.

    July 21, 1969 Smog so bad in LA my eyes would burn.

    During the 50ties Pittsburgh was so dirty with coal soot in the air the white clothes was gray.

    "... deer were nearly extinct in Pennsylvania at the turn of the
    century (1900) but at record levels in the 1960's" http://www.deerandforests.org/resources/History%20of%20Deer%20Population%20Trends.pdf

    I could go on. The current problem with the environmental movement is spending all their capital on a non problem, CO2.

  • John Dewey

    deacon: "I don’t think you older folks realize the environmental degradation that has taken place over the last 100 years."

    deacon, I don't think you realize how much the liberal media and liberal educators have duped you.

    The EPA has been publishing this graph for quite a few years, during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

    Please provide some "evidence", deacon, to back up your assertion of recent widespread environmental degradation in the U.S..

  • Craig

    The NY Times reported the other day that the whole "save the rain forest" thing is overblown, because new jungle is growing faster than its being destroyed. I wonder what other environmental cause celebres are frauds?

  • deacon

    The criteria pollutants specified in the CAA have dropped well below 1970 levels and are now lower than 1900 levels, which is to say they are now 10 times 1800 levels. (This is based on Greenland ice coring.) I like to say that this progress was made do to vigilance and conscientious regulation. Other than enduring the insidious whining of the auto industry at every regulation change, much of the recent reduction was accomplished by pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries. Yep that is progress.

    HAP emissions have dropped too, however, sediment sampling across the oceans of the world have shown that depositions from pre-WWII are much cleaner that recent sediments. Precipitates from HAPs are tricky so I would not get to excited by the numbers. Many of the HAP precipitates are not meta-stable and extrapolating back to far is dangerous. Suffice to say that many of the 188 HAPs listed by the EPA did not exist in appreciable quantities prior to WWII, so their absence in those sediments is not too surprising.

    Soil and groundwater pollution has only really been addressed in the past 15 years in any kind of serious way. Assuming that sources of the pollution have stopped, pollution levels will likely attenuate in the next 100 years or so regardless of what we do.

    Oh then there is that island of plastic crap the size of a small state floating in the middle of the Pacific. Do you think it is getting bigger or smaller?

    I could go into a diatribe about biodiversity, loss of habitat, loss of topsoil, et. al. But if you folks cared about that you would already know about it. Some of most grotesque pollution has been stopped in the past 40 years, but overall we are still sliding into a cesspool of our own making. The point of my post was not to be little the accomplishment of the past 40 years, but rather to put perspective on the degradation that has taken place beyond a persons lifetime.

    Boomers, can't live with them, can't recycle them when you're done with them.

  • John Dewey

    deacon: "much of the recent reduction was accomplished by pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries"

    Prove that. Provide some real data.

    Here's some real data that says otherwise:

    U.S. Manufacturing Real GDP

    1990 ......$0.917 trillion
    1995 ......$1.096 trillion
    2000 ......$1.426 trillion
    2004 ......$1.478 trillion
    2005 ......$1.491 trilion
    2006 ......$1.573 trillion
    2007 ......$1.618 trillion

    http://www.bea.gov/industry/gpotables/gpo_action.cfm

    Real U.S. manufacturing GDP is the inflation-adjusted value added by manufacturing operations located in the 50 U.S. states. That value reached an all time high in 2004 ..... then again in 2005 ..... then again in 2006 ..... and once again in 2007.

    deacon: "The point of my post was not to be little the accomplishment of the past 40 years,"

    Oh, I think that was exactly your point when you wrote:

    "Don’t break you arm patting yourself on the back quite yet.

    But when you got challenged on it, you quickly backed down.

  • John Dewey

    Here’s more facts about U.S. manufacturing, deacon:

    “The U.S. produces 21% of all the world’s chemicals, more than any other nation.”

    http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/bin.asp?CID=1772&DID=6573&DOC=FILE.PDF

    U.S. refinery capacity, measured as barrels of crude oil which can be distilled daily, is just slightly lower than the all time high reached in 1982, and significantly higher than the capacity of 40 years ago.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_cap1_dcu_nus_a.htm

    According to the latest study by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. paper mill capacity – the capacity to produce paper, paperboard, and market pulp – doubled from 1970 to 2000.

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp602.pdf

    Inflation adjusted U.S. paper manufacturing GDP has remained relatively constant in the 21st century, indicating paper production has remained at twice the levels of the 1970’s.

    http://www.bea.gov/industry/gpotables/gpo_action.cfm

    These three industries accounted for most of the industrial pollution 40 years ago, deacon. Yet they are as strong as ever in the U.S.

    Deacon: “pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries”

    Please show real data to support your comment, deacon.

  • tomw

    Wonder what we're gonna do with all those horse pellets when we have to quit using petroleum products for fuel. That was the biggest worry in NYC back when... say 100 years ago. Smokestacks on every tenement (those that had heat), burning coal. Hmm, wonder about the SOx, Hg, etc. You get the picture.
    This "deacon" doesnt' know beans, and hasn't taken the time to digest the distorted history his left leaning boo-hoo-ers have inculcated into him (at least as much as would fit...). Instead, he seems to want to go back further into time. When tallow was burned for light, leather was tanned and scraped for window material, and electricity was the lightning that cooked your unluckiest horse or cow out on the plains.
    Yeah, I am nuts, but am also tired of all the whining about increased this and that, with no respect for what HAS been accomplished.
    /rant
    tom

  • John Dewey

    Here’s more facts about U.S. manufacturing, deacon:

    “The U.S. produces 21% of all the world’s chemicals, more than any other nation.”

    http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/bin.asp?CID=1772&DID=6573&DOC=FILE.PDF

    U.S. refinery capacity, measured as barrels of crude oil which can be distilled daily, is just slightly lower than the all time high reached in 1982, and significantly higher than the capacity of 40 years ago.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_cap1_dcu_nus_a.htm

    According to the latest study by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. paper mill capacity – the capacity to produce paper, paperboard, and market pulp – doubled from 1970 to 2000.

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp602.pdf

    Inflation adjusted U.S. paper manufacturing GDP has remained relatively constant in the 21st century, indicating paper production has remained at twice the levels of the 1970’s.

    http://www.bea.gov/industry/gpotables/gpo_action.cfm

    These three industries accounted for most of the industrial pollution 40 years ago, deacon. Yet they are as strong as ever in the U.S.

    Deacon: “pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries”

    Please show real data to support your comment, deacon.

  • John Dewey

    Here’s more facts about U.S. manufacturing, deacon:

    “The U.S. produces 21% of all the world’s chemicals, more than any other nation.”

    http://www.americanchemistry.com/s_acc/bin.asp?CID=1772&DID=6573&DOC=FILE.PDF

    U.S. refinery capacity, measured as barrels of crude oil which can be distilled daily, is just slightly lower than the all time high reached in 1982, and significantly higher than the capacity of 40 years ago.

    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pnp_cap1_dcu_nus_a.htm

    These two industries accounted for the lion's share of industrial pollution 40 years ago, deacon. Yet they are as strong as ever in the U.S.

    Deacon: “pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries”

    Please show real data to support your comment, deacon.

  • John Dewey

    Deacon, the paper industry was another big polluter from 40 years ago:

    According to the latest study by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. paper mill capacity – the capacity to produce paper, paperboard, and market pulp – doubled from 1970 to 2000.

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplrp/fplrp602.pdf

    Inflation adjusted U.S. paper manufacturing GDP has remained relatively constant in the 21st century, indicating paper production has remained at twice the levels of the 1970’s.

    http://www.bea.gov/industry/gpotables/gpo_action.cfm

    Deacon's explanation for our improvements in air quality: “pissing away our manufacturing capability to 3rd world countries”

    Please show real data to support your comment, deacon.

  • John Dewey

    Sorry for the triple posting. My Monday post didn't show up un my browser until midday Tuesday,

  • deacon

    John Dewey wrote (several times):

    “The U.S. produces 21% of all the world’s chemicals, more than any other nation.”

    And what is the trend? I would expect that the US has lead chemical production for 70 years or better, and leveled off in the 90's and has slid precipitously in the past ten years.

    "According to the latest study by the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. paper mill capacity – the capacity to produce paper, paperboard, and market pulp – doubled from 1970 to 2000."

    I find that conclusion curious since a new paper mill has not been built in this country since 1989 and a new paper machine has not gone online since the mid 90's. I admit I did not read your paper, are you sure they did not include waste paper and pulp shipments to China? I would also expect that paper consumption is 3 or 4 times 1970 levels.

    “U.S. refinery capacity, measured as barrels of crude oil which can be distilled daily, is just slightly lower than the all time high reached in 1982, and significantly higher than the capacity of 40 years ago.”

    So you are telling me that the US reached its peak oil refining production reached its peak 26 years ago and that is an indication that the oil refining business in the US is solid?

    Keep at it John, if you believe US manufacturing is in good shape, so be it. Next, would you like to argue whether oxygen exits?

    tomw, I have no desire to go into the past. I really don't care for horses that much. Acute pollution is better than it was 40 years ago. As a total picture it is not better, just different.

  • John Dewey

    deacon,

    Are you ever going to provide facts to support your assertions/expectations/curiousity? I'm not going to hold my breath.

    If you want to know the source of the facts provided by the Forest Service about paper mill capacity, read the damn link I graciously provided. Don't expect me to do research at your begging.

    Yes the oil refining business is still solid. Despite enourmous gains in auto fuel efficiencies, the nation continues to refine the same amount of gaasoline that it did 26 years ago.

    I did not assert that the chemical, paper, and petroleum refining industries have grown as fast as the economy - or even grown at all. I was simply showing that your silly argument that we moved polluting industries offshore was not based on any facts whatsoever. Of course, given your refusal to provide any facts on anything, I guess I shouldn't waste my time any further. The only reason I have researched and posted information refuting your unfounded assertions is to show any other readsers they should be skeptical about unsupprted "arguments".