Envionmental Psychology

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Earth Day 2006 - Good News for the Environment

By Jeanette Joy Fisher

As Earth Day 2006 approaches, there seems to be good news on the environmental scene, which should come as welcome change to anyone concerned about the state of our Earth. That’s in stark contrast to the first Earth Day, back in 1970.

Earth Day 2006 sees lakes in New England beginning to rebound from their sorry condition after being bombarded by acid rain for decades. The acid rain itself has decreased, as well, and the sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that comprise most of our air pollution have diminished by some 50 percent--due in no small part to the fact that the burning of leaded gas is virtually a thing of the past.

Environmentalists have also been encouraged to discover that a number of endangered species, including America’s national symbol, the bald eagle, as well as wolves and grizzly bears, have begun making a promising comeback. All of that good news is even more significant when you compare today's environment to the way things were on the first Earth Day.

In Ohio, the Cuyahoga River was so polluted that it actually caught fire. Cuyahoga River sign

 

Cuyahoga River today

Cuyahoga River today

In New York, all of the residents of a neighborhood called Love Canal were forced to move away forever when it was discovered that their homes had been built upon a toxic chemical waste dump. Pollution in cities was so bad that residents were told to stay inside because the air was actually hazardous to breathe during "code red" days.

The interesting thing is that the environmental improvements took place in spite of increased pressure in America. For instance, EPA statistics show that the total emissions of the six major air pollutants dropped by more than 50 percent, even though America’s population increased by 40 percent and energy consumption increased by 47 percent. Automobile hydrocarbon emissions also decreased during that time, despite the fact that both the number of vehicles and amount of miles driven more than doubled.

All in all, it appears as if America is headed in the right direction in regard to the environment. It's been a fierce, hand-to-hand battle, but the country is moving forward, thanks to dedicated environmentalists and bureaucrats at all levels of government.

However, even though American rivers don't catch fire anymore and the smog levels have decreased in most major cities, there's still a long way to go. Urban sprawl is still endangering woodlands, prairies, and farmland, and global warming is still on the rise. Even so, the overall trend is positive. But we must all work to continue the momentum set in motion by the first Earth Day in 1970.

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