Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Trump, the EPA, and Your Toxic Future

As I pointed out previously, the first Industrial Revolution almost occurred in China several hundred years before it happened in Europe. There were various reasons why this did not occur, not the least of which was an invasion by Genghis Khan. But before that happened, the Chinese city of Kaifeng became the largest urban area on the planet.  It housed more than one million residents.  It was the global hub for science and development and a fledgling iron works industry.  

Remembering Kaifeng is useful today because it seems many among us have forgotten a simple, undeniable historic fact. Wherever unregulated human beings prosper economically it is always at the expense of the environment to the degree that it poses a threat to human life itself.  The region around Kaifeng was heavily forested but within a few decades the landscape became completely denuded.  Vital wood and other materials had to transported from many miles away.  The industry suffered but so did those living in the industrial waste and environmental devastation - the worst in history up to that time.

Also as I have posted here, here, and here, China remains one of the world's worst polluters today. Millions of Chinese citizens dies every year from breathing toxic air and drinking toxic water. Conditions are just as bad in India, if not worse. The singular thread connecting these two rapidly growing world economies is that neither country has had any regulatory oversight on the environment. The fact is that in modern times the "Socialist world" has become the worst polluter on Earth thanks to a hands-off approach to pollution and environmental healthy.

In essence, this is what human beings do to their environment every time.  There are few if any historic examples of how economic development and free enterprise factor in the environmental impact.  Instead, profitability and productivity are the holy grail of economic prosperity.  Left free and unencumbered, human beings will fill their pockets with money and neglect the environmental consequences until the environment becomes unhealthy, causing disease and death. 

Even with the EPA, America remains one of the worst polluters on the planet.  Our country's great industrial revolution was the source of incredible wealth and opportunity but, predictably in the view of history, it was also the source of unmitigated toxic pollution.

President Trump does not believe in history.  He does not learn from the past. He (and most of his sorry supporters) believes that the EPA is equivalent to the IRS and should be abolished.  His choice to head the department believes such a drastic act is justified (although it really doesn't look like outright elimination of the agency is not likely to happen). How does he think this country will look ten years after this ill-conceived decision? Are we Americans more enlightened now than we were 50 years ago where the environment is concerned?  Without the EPA, Lake Erie died in the late 1960's.  There are countless facts about pre-EPA American disasters.  Love Canal, New York, Picher, Oklahoma, Libby, Montana, Louisville, Kentucky, these are the places of America's environmental heritage.

Just today Trump and his ilk decided that the Clean Water Rule which protects the drinking water for 117 million Americans (not to mention crops and wildlife) should be "dismantled".  This is a major blow to the EPA's ability to protect the environment.  Let's get the facts straight here President Trumpet.  It was precisely the horrific, unregulated conditions of drinking water in this country due to dumping by individuals and industry that lead to the Rule to begin with.  Trump calls the Rule a "disaster" which, of course, utter bullshit (and a waaaaaaay overused term by the Donald).  Precisely the opposite is the historical, factual case. The disaster existed into the early 1970's when this Rule came into effect and led to today's situation, which is some of the cleanest water in the world.

Without the EPA, or even with a severely restricted EPA, this country will revert back to how it was before the EPA (see this sobering story in that radical left-wing publication, Popular Science).  We know what this nation is like without adequate environmental protection.  We know what human being have always done to the environment.  Our individual liberty cannot be trusted where the air, water, and soil are concerned.  As I said in a previous post, "Liberty means nothing if you can't breathe the air." 

As these photos show, we need a strong EPA now more than ever.  Otherwise, "those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it."

Illegal dumping on the Hudson River, 1973

Burning batteries in Texas, 1972

Cleveland, Ohio, 1973

Cuyahoga River Cleveland, 1953

George Washington Bridge, 1973

Illegal Dumping, Hudson River, 1973

Los Angeles, 1973

Louisville and the Ohio River, 1972

Sewage Dumping in the Potomac River, 1973

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