Americans have been vilified and conditioned to believe that they are the worst polluters on the planet.   The USA has the assignment; worlds whipping boy for any and all environmental abuse on the earth.  Somehow it’s all our fault that 16 of the worlds 20 most polluted cities are in China.     None of the top 20 most polluted cities are in the U.S., however.   In fact of the 10 cleanest cities in the world  we, here in the U.S., have 3 cities on that list.   And that is an accomplishment to be proud of and should not be taken lightly.  It wasn’t always so good, however. 

It was  June 22nd,1969 when Cleveland Ohio’s Cuyahoga River caught fire.  That’s right – water so polluted it just started burning.   Ignited by a spark from a passing train, some believe.  This, of course, made the national news.  The incident is credited with motivating the American public to get on about the chore of cleaning up their environment.  Not too long afterward came the Clean Water Act of ’72 and Clean Air Act of ’70.  And today the Cuyahoga River has recovered and is frequented by local fisherman.    

The Great Lakes are also on the mend and a home to a thriving sports fishing industry.  Boston Harbor, called the “filthiest harbor in the nation” back in the early ‘80s, is well on its way to a full recovery. 

And does anyone remember the “LA Smog Alerts”?  Fact: the last LA Smog Alert was in 1997!  A monumental accomplishment that Californians and Americans should be extremely proud of.   Not just LA but  most of the major U.S. cities have decreased Particulate Matter in the air dramatically over the past couple of decades ( link ).  Additionally, much of these advances were prior to the introduction of hybrid vehicles.  Thanks to technology, vehicle emissions have decreased and we are actually driving many more miles and polluting much less.   The reduction of particulate matters in the air have no doubt ( link2 ) contributed to the increase in U.S. life expectancy.   

And what ever happened to “acid rain”?  Apparently those sulfur dioxide scrubbers in power plants have helped considerably.   And the Ozone Hole?  Where did it go?   And the Whooping Crane?  Down to 21 birds in 1941.  Now there is a heavily protected population of 300 birds.   Successes we get little credit for.

Here’s a cool website:  ( link3 ).   This site gives the current/daily Air Quality Index status for our nation.   The site is provided by our own government.  Monitoring the site over a period of time and you’ll have to conclude that our USA is a clean/ healthy place to hang out, for the most part.  Rarely an “unhealthy” rating is observed.  More and more, the incessant diatribes from our critics simply do not appear to be grounded in reality. 

And regarding greenhouse gas emissions.  We’re continuously getting chided and berated because of our alleged excessive greenhouse gas emissions, here in the U.S.   Its been said that the burning of fossil fuels will cause carbon dioxide to be pumped into the air causing this greenhouse effect (hence warming), yet we continue to have record cold winters and scientists have proven that the oceans are actually cooling a bit.    A fairly reliable indication that the earth’s temperature is not rising to any significant or dangerous levels and that the concerns over these emissions have been exaggerated. 

Sadly, the recent and tragic emergence of the Climategate emails have deeply tainted all of the Environmental Sciences.  Because of the lust of a few for political power and money, the entire scientific community has lost a large measure of credibility.    Especially the political-agenda-driven environmental science cabal, headed up by a former vice-president of the United States.  It will be difficult for the scientific community to win back that confidence and until that day comes, Americans need not accept or tolerate any criticisms/blame for causing any sort of climate change.   And they need not give up their SUV’s!

It is now time to put the man-made climate change debate back on the shelf until we have some solid proof that man is responsible.  Not a collection of loose, unproven theories.  An honest and open debate must take place with both global warming proponents and skeptics allowed to participate. 

In my “layman’s” view it seems there are factors that are not being – factored in.  (maybe purposely)  Think about plants.  During daylight hours plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen.  During hours of darkness that is reversed – unless there is artificial light available.  Then photosynthesis continues.   Next time you’re at some high-rise office building, do a quick count of all the plants you see – hundreds.  Nasa has proven the value of indoor.  Plants that may actually save your life.   Some plants actually absorb not only CO2 but toxins from the air.  Two indoor plants per 100 square feet can make a significant and healthful difference.  Another American success story!  Yes, we Americans are house-plant fanatics.   We love and nurture millions of plants that help absorb many of the impurities out of the air and in return they emit sweet oxygen.  How many indoor plants would you estimate are in a 40 story office building under artificial light?   It’s a factor!

 And, hey, we humans eat many plants.  We love the edible ones, too!   During the growth cycle of these plants they are absorbing CO2 and emitting oxygen.  The more people, the more they will need to eat and the more plants will be grown for the purpose of feeding these people.  Millions of acres of plants being raised for food – absorbing/emitting.  Another factor! And what about the Forest Products sector?  Almost half of the of all wood supply is now planted and grown on plantations.   Yet these plantations make up only 5% of the worlds forests!  Which precludes the need for deforestation in the worlds natural forests.  One mature tree (whether planted or naturally grown) can absorb approximately 48 pounds of CO2 per year!  The Forest Products Industry has been planting and reforesting for decades.  Couple that with the number of  trees/shrubs that individuals plant  on their personal properties.  Massive amounts of CO2 absorbed.  Massive amounts of oxygen emitted.  A massive factor, for sure! 

And, lest we forget…our Nations valiant U.S. Forest Service Firefighters who have saved millions of acres of forest land.  From the Hot Shot Crews to the Smoke Jumpers.   Some have made the ultimate sacrifice…(link).    Our gratitude goes to these brave women and men.  An ultimate factor.

We get so much negative input from our media, the blogs,  the entertainment industry, foreign nations and world governing bodies regarding the damage that we Americans do to the environment.  And personally, I don’t want to hear any more of their doom/gloom predictions.   I didn’t have to work very hard to find America’s true, positive environmental impact.  But I know I missed much.  If you readers have other reports of home grown U.S. environmental successes, please add them to the comments.  I’d love to hear more upbeat news. 

One day, when pigs fly, Time Magazine might once again celebrate the American People as they did back in 1969 by naming them as  “Person of the Year”.  It was a far different publication back then.    But I’m not going to wait.   Nor am I going to wait on timid politicians, who run like scared rabbits from this debate/issue and are afraid to heap this sort of praise on you.  Think of the political fallout!   

Therefore, I am honored to perform this duty.  I do hereby name the Citizens of the U.S.A. –  “2009 Darvin Dowdy Person of the Year”  for being Great Stewards of the Environment.  I salute you and applaud you.  And I exhort you to hold your heads high and make no apologies.   And don’t get rid of your SUV’s! 

Darvin Dowdy

          

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