The very first response that jumped out to me in the latest Civitas Poll are the number of people who think the environmental quality is actually getting worse. More were inclined to say the environment is not improving but eroding, and a significant majority think, at least at the national level, that the environment is worse off. When it comes to North Carolina’s environmental quality, that number is 44 percent, and residents of our state that were polled (54 percent) say the environment is worse off elsewhere around the country.
Over at the John Locke Foundation, Jon Sanders beat me to the punch on the data which clearly shows this is not the case. Below is just one of the charts he highlighted:
U.S. air quality improvement is perhaps the greatest turnaround in the history of positive environmental news. Like a lot of things, but certainly, in that area, we are an example to the world. This despite what you may be hearing from current politicized alarmists. Sanders has a chart measuring our improvements against much of the world too.
When I lived in Cairo, Egypt as a teenager I begun to develop a strange cough. The air in Cairo is notoriously filthy, and the city is consistently one of the most polluted in the world. I had a medical doctor at the American Embassy tell me it was probably safer to smoke a cigarette with a filter than breathe the air in Cairo. I don’t think the cough fully improved until I moved away.
Since Sanders over at Locke covered the data so well, I thought I’d just conclude with a few thoughts on why the disconnect exists. At the poll lunch, commentators Donald Bryson and Donna King pointed out the fact that the media only focuses on bad news when it comes to the environment. No doubt that is accurate and obviously the amount of climate alarmism perpetuates the belief that things are getting worse, or inevitably, at least, people believe it will get worse.
The earth appears to be in a warming cycle, and many scientists feel that humankind is at least contributing to that to some degree. There tends to be more disagreement about the degree to which this is catastrophic, negative, neutral, or even slightly positive. Global poverty is trending downward, and there is evidence that higher incomes and higher standards of living are benefits for the environment overall. But I wonder too if higher incomes and greater economic security give the public more time to fret and pay attention to negative reporting/alarmism on the environment? Certainly, environmental alarmism is more of a first world problem, even when we tend to have much cleaner environments. Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to it. People of faith and of good nature are called to care for creation. However, it seems, overall, Americans should be fretting more about the $22+ trillion federal debt that could erode their savings and retirement accounts due to hyperinflation. Can you imagine if some of these politicians painting a catastrophic picture over the environment would do the same for federal spending and debt? I wish they would.
Advances in technology and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs and innovators are bettering the environment in so many ways today. It’s something we should take notice of and applaud more. I’d bet that getting outside more, probably something we all need to do, instead of fretting with the doomsdayers, would improve our outlook on life generally. There is no doubt it will push us to notice just how beautiful North Carolina is and all of God’s creation. We might even become a society that looks up more, instead of constantly looking down at our screens. Okay, maybe that is asking a little too much, but even baby steps are important.