Yay for us. Our pollution production
levels are way down compared to what they were in the middle of the last century.
Seriously, things were getting really bad. Pittsburgh was considered such a hopeless
mess that famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, whose landmark
home sat nearby, when asked what to do about Pittsburg's terrible pollution responded,
"Abandon it." Lake Erie
had been declared officially
Love Canal dominated headlines.
Los Angeles air was (and still is, BTW)
unbreathable. After huge public awareness campaigns, cleanup efforts, and stricter
enforcement of pollution laws, the trend halted and has reversed. That is unquestionably
The bad news is that as pollution control got better, companies found continuing
manufacturing operations in the U.S. was unprofitable based on what people were
willing to pay for their products. Steel, the literal and figurative backbone of
industry, could not be mined, smelted, and processed into finished goods at a price
that would encourage innovation and growth. Timber harvesting operations found that
controlling runoff, erosion, and the environmental impact of heavy machines and
trucks could not be accomplished economically. Chemical processing plants groaned
under the regulatory clamps that forced either compliance or shut-down. Electronics
manufacturing has suffered. The list goes on and on. In spite of all that, we still
manage to get our needed material and products, just not from domestic sources.
Sure, a lot of Americans are out of work because of it, but our environment is cleaner
than it otherwise might be, and other people worldwide now have good jobs. Everybody
Not so much. If you ignore the conditions under which a large majority of those
new workers exist, and ignore the fact that the other countries are now the ones
creating all that harmful pollution, there is still one problem. Oddly enough, it
was only discovered and confirmed relatively recently. According to an article in
Discover titled, "Made
in China: Our Toxic, Imported Air Pollution," a huge amount of airborne particulate
matter that is being released into the air from Chinese manufacturing operations
is making its way to the U.S. shore via transpacific air currents. Using sophisticated
methods of data collection and analysis (described in the article), forensics have
shown large quantities of black carbon, mercury, sulfur dioxide, organic compounds,
carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, aerosols, etc., landing on American soil, foliage,
and water bodies. For some of the pollutants, accumulation rates from China and
a few other "developing nation" regions are greater than what is being caused by
our own industry. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes ever-increasing
limits on what domestic operations can introduce into the environment. According
to the article's author, it is possible that even with our companies reducing their
contributions, the amounts deposited from offshore air currents could make compliance
That means no matter how hard we work at reducing pollutants, it will be for
naught and will cause even more companies to close their U.S. operations. Now, if
you allow for the fact that EPA and environmental whacko types are not stupid and
know this to be so, you have to ask why the current laws persist. If you were the
conspiratorial type, you might look at some of the statements made recently by top-tier
departmental bureaucrats and politicians about their vision for America and conclude
that they are intentionally destroying this country's dominance in the world. Google
the quotes if you are interested enough to learn who uttered the words. There are
many more where these came from.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels
"Under my plan of a cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily
skyrocket. So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can - it's just that
it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that
greenhouse gas that's being emitted."
"I can't give you a specific number today, in large part because the analysis
upon which we would make that determination has not been completed... I think it
is fair to say there may be additional costs associated with a farming operation,
but it is very difficult to quantify."
"I believe we must pass Cap and Trade because we see it as a source of revenue."
The same people who loudly lecture us about our history of planetary destruction
turn a blind eye toward the evils being perpetrated upon other souls across the
world. Those same hypocrites lavish themselves in the products of nearly slave labor
and tell us we alone are bad. They continually remind us that Americans comprise
5% of the world's population while consuming 20% of the world's energy. Um, OK,
so we don't do anything productive with that energy? Bad us, we don't contribute
much of anything to the world. No wonder nobody wants to come to live here.
I think it is long past time that America rebuilds her manufacturing
base while operating within a reasonable balance of profitability and ecological
and environmental responsibility. If we are going to suffer the ills of pollution
from one source or another, it should be from our gainfully employed citizens. In
fact, it is long past time for many countries suffering the same dilemma to reclaim
their heritage invention and production.
Posted December 31, 2020
(updated from original post on 12, 2011)