Originally posted on April 22, 2010.
Today marks the 40th annual Earth Day. Traditionally, this day is thought of as a leftist holiday that uses scare tactics to convince us that the world is ending soon unless we sinful Americans environmentally clean up our act. Surely, the Obama administration will use this day to push forward their anti-growth, high tax, job killing agendas to “save” the environment. The Earth Day networkplans to,
organize a massive climate rally on The National Mall to demand that Congress pass a strong climate bill in 2010.
This makes one wonder how much CO2 that these activists will emit traveling to DC that they otherwise would not but that’s beside the point. I did more research on Earth Day to find that the majority of these activists want government bureaucrats to forcibly limit the amount of fossil fuels that American families use to heat up their homes during a cold winter.
They often label those in opposition of cap-and-trade and Senator Kerry (D-Mass.), Graham (R-S.C) and Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) proposed energy bill as “anti-environment” or “anti-Earth.” Some lefty environmentalists claim that it is a contradiction to be both pro-business and pro-environment. These claims could not be further from the truth. All of us, regardless of political affiliation, want everyone to have access to fresh air and clean water. We all tend to see excessive pollution in a negative light and generally do not want exotic animals to become extinct. However, in order to get this desirable greener world, we should promote policies that have been proven to provide us with environmental gains: free market capitalism.
According to Cato Institute scholar Jerry Taylor,
it’s businessmen — not bureaucrats or environmental activists — who deserve most of the credit for the environmental gains over the past century and who represent the best hope for a Greener tomorrow.
He explains that before any bureaucratic EPA agency, pollution was declining rapidly in the United States as Americans were becoming wealthier. Wealth generally makes societies more environmentally conscious. When the people started demanding environmental-friendly products and services, the free market gladly delivered. People demanded gas instead of coal home furnaces, trains voluntarily switched to electric and power plants had an incentive to become more energy efficient. All of this happened without government intervention. The people received their environmental-friendly products, the producers made their profits and pollution levels decreased. In fact, when the newly created EPA intervened with the market the trend reversed and pollution levels starting increasing.
Cato Institute scholar Indur Goklany declares that the declining pollution levels were significantly declining before the EPA was founded in 1970,
But before there was an Earth Day, America’s air was becoming cleaner, water-related diseases had been virtually eradicated and, habitat loss, the major threat to species, had been reversed.
Between 1957 and 1970, particulate matter concentrations in urban areas declined 15 percent, while sulfur dioxide concentrations peaked in 1963, declining 40 percent between 1962 and 1969…The death rate from various gastrointestinal diseases, which had been 1,427 per million in 1900 had declined to 6 in 1970 in large part due to chlorination.
Taylor goes on to explain that capitalism is responsible for reducing pollution,
Meanwhile, capitalism rewards efficiency and punishes waste. Profit-hungry companies found ingenious ways to reduce the natural resource inputs necessary to produce all kinds of goods, which in turn reduced environmental demands on the land and the amount of waste that flowed through smokestacks and water pipes. As we learned to do more and more with a given unit of resources, the waste involved (which manifests itself in the form of pollution) shrank… Capitalism can save more lives threatened by environmental pollution than all the environmental organizations combined.
Lefty environmentalists generally support coercive governmental environmental regulations that raise taxes for all Americans. These policies will hurt people and job creating small-businesses while forcibly taking away our liberties. The Americans for Tax Reform found that Obama’s budget calls for $220,000,000,000 increases in energy taxes by 2020. Cap and trade legislation will increase energy costs by $1,241 annually for a family of four and raise the price of gasoline by 58 percent. The new energy bill likely to be introduced next week will raise the price of gasoline by an average of 27 centsper gallon. With so many families struggling during these hard economic times, this will drastically reduce their standards of living. While everyone wants to improve the environment, we need to understand that there are true costs with implementing these proposed legislations such as raising costs, limiting production and diminishing liberty. On Earth Day thank free market capitalism for making the world greener while increasing our standards of living.