Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Good News (Reversable?): We've Grown Rich Since 1970 While Seriously Cleaning Our Air

While some cities in the U.S. remain threatened by air pollution, we've made great strides over the decades. Do we want to reverse our progress?

The Central Valley's Bakersfield, CA worst in the nation. Who knew?

The above picture shows we're not finished yet with cleaning our air, but since 1970 we've made tremendous overall progress as a country. That prompts one to ask: If we can become an even wealthier, more successful economy while drastically reducing air pollution, what's the argument that further cleaning the air of greenhouse gases will damage our economy? Our history says different.

Check out this blog post on the subject to find some great graphs that are very illuminating. (Thanks to Paul Krugman for pointing to this.)

Speaking of Paul Krugman, one of the arguments for deregulation is that it hurts manufacturing. Paul finds a graph that puts the lie to that:

The point here is that while we have lost manufacturing jobs, we haven't reduced manufacturing's share of the economy. And that's more a function of productivity gains than shipping jobs overseas.

Would we like more and better paying jobs in this country? Sure. But saying so isn't the same as having them. There is a way, however. It's called serious infrastructure spending and encouraging and investing, as a nation, in the whole gamut of alternative energy sources.

I bring this up in the context of the threat from the new Trump administration to trim the EPA, reduce funding at NASA for global warming research, and encourage more fossil fuel production, partly by expanding leases on federal lands, not to mention the rolling back of regulations on coal-burning power plants while chanting "clean coal, clean coal..." And don't get me started on Trump's phony infrastructure plan. It's more like a textbook example of crony capitalism at the public's expense.

Moral? We're making progress. Let's don't stop. And by the way, there is no such thing as clean coal, but we knew that.

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