Environment is improving says America’s EPA

Though the public believes that most environmental trends are negative, much U.S. government data suggests the contrary. The eighth edition of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators says that forests are expanding and water quality is improving.

  • By 2001, roughly two million acres a year were being planted with trees, an amount larger than the land lost annually to urban sprawl.

  • However, as many as 190 million acres of public forests are at risk of major fires because of overgrown conditions.

  • Water quality has improved in the last thirty years: the percentage of children exposed to unsafe water declined from twenty percent in 1993 to eight percent in 1999.

  • The level of toxic chemical releases has declined 51.2 percent since 1988.

    Furthermore, most Americans think that air quality has declined and will continue to get worse in the future, but a recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report suggests otherwise.

  • Total emissions of the six major pollutants have declined 25 percent since 1970, while the U.S. economy grew 161 percent and energy consumption expanded by 42 percent.

  • Ambient levels of pollution – the actual concentration of pollution in the air we breathe – have fallen even more.

  • Ozone decreased by 32.9 percent between 1976 and 2001, and lead levels went down by 97 percent during the same period.

    The new Index also notes that the United Nation’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg may have marked a turning point in environmental policy by emphasising economic growth as a prerequisite for environmental progress.

    Source: Steven F. Hayward and Ryan Stowers, Index of Leading Environmental Indicators 2003, April 2003, American Enterprise Institute and Pacific Research Institute.

    For text http://www.aei.org/publications/bookID.407,filter./book_detail2.asp
    For more on Human Health Risks http://www.ncpa.org/iss/env/

    FMF Policy Bulletin/1 July 2003

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