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Not all doom. How the world has made some environmental problems better

Not all doom. How the world has made some environmental problems better

Not all doom and gloom: How the world has improved some environmental problems

AP — With climate change, plastic pollution and a potential sixth mass extinction, humanity has made some incredible messes in the world.

People, nations, and political factions have come together to solve some of the human-caused environmental problems. They have cleared theozone hole, cleared perpetually smoggy air, and saved many species from extinction.

Sheril Kirshenbaum, a researcher at Michigan State University in environmental sustainability, said that we can clean up our mess.

The Associated Press asked more then 25 environmental scientists and policy specialists, including two former chiefs of the US Environmental Protection Agency and the current director at the United Nations Environment Programme to share their top stories on environmental problems the world needs to fix.

Rob Jackson, an environmental scientist at Stanford University, said that there are many amazing success stories. It’s easy to get stifled by all the problems, and there is much that needs to be done. It is wonderful to remember that others have succeeded in the past and that society has also succeeded, both here in the USA and internationally.

These are the four most successful successes and one key aspect that so many ecological wins share in common.

Resolving the ozone hole

Scientists, officials, as well as environmental policy experts, overwhelmingly favored fixing ozone depletion.

Carol Browner, former chief EPA officer, said in an email that it was a moment in which countries that are often at odds with each other realized the collective threat to their security and decided to implement a solution.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that certain chemicals were destroying the protective ozone layer that protects Earth from ultraviolet radiation that can cause skin cancer.

Jason West, University of North Carolina atmospheric researcher, stated that the ozone layer was thinning all over Antarctica, creating a hole in the atmosphere. This could lead to increased skin cancer cases and cataracts, as well as widespread changes in ecosystems across the globe.

This combination of images, made available by NASA, shows areas of low Ozone above Antarctica on September 2000, and September 2018. The purple and blue colors indicate areas with low ozone. Yellows and reds indicate areas with more ozone. (NASA via AP).

Stanfords Jackson stated that it was the first time that we had created a planet-killing issue and then solved it.

The Montreal Protocol was a treaty that banned ozone-munching chemicals. It was signed by all countries in 1987. Inger Andersen, Director of United Nations Environment Programme, stated in an email that 99% of ozone-depleting chemical have been eliminated by this point, saving 2 million people each year from skin cancer.

Although the ozone hole in Antarctica has been worsening for several decades, it has slowly begun to heal over the past few years. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, the ozone hole will be completely healed by 2030.

The Montreal Protocol is often cited by activists as a model and hope for combating climate change. In the case with the banned ozone-sapping chemical, the corporations that made them also made their replacements. Jackson said that climate change poses a greater threat than ever to oil and natural gas companies.

Cleaner air, cleaner water

The air in the United States and most of the industrialized countries is cleaner and clearer today than it was fifty or sixty years ago, when major cities such as Los Angeles were clogged with smog and other dangerous microscopic particles. Lakes and rivers were also dumping grounds, especially in Ohio, Michigan, and Canada.

We would go to Lake Erie when I was young… and play on the beach and there would be dead fish everywhere. Stanfords Jackson said that we would have dead fish fights.

According to UNCs West, the Clean Air Act of 70 and its follow-up in 1990 by EPA regulations effectively cleaned America’s air. A similar law was passed in 1972 regarding water.

According to Sam Tuttle, a Syracuse University professor in environmental sciences, this has resulted in fewer diseases such as asthma and cancer, and saved millions of lives. This means that people are healthier, fisheries are more productive, and the environment is more appealing and healthier for everyone.

West stated that strict restrictions on tiny particles reduced US air pollution deaths from approximately 95,000 in 1990 to 48,000 by 2019.

In 1955, the smog levels in Los Angeles reached 680 parts per million. They have fallen to 185 parts/billion in the past couple of years, but are usually much lower.

It is not just about the air outside. Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland environmental health scientist and former chief of the EPA, said that restricting indoor smoking has huge public health benefits.

J. Timmons Roberts from Brown University is also an environmental scientist. He grew up in Lake Erie, but stopped going to it because of dead fish. The US and Canada have made great strides in regulation and cooperation. Now thousands of walleyes and other fishers are out each summer.

Solar and wind power

Experts have been amazed by the steep decline in price of solar and wind power, which don’t produce heat-trapping gasses, and they believe it will lead to a world that is free from oil, coal, and natural gas, which are causing global warming.

According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), the price for residential solar power dropped 64% between 2010 and 2020, while the price for large-scale utility sun power generation fell 82%.

On Friday, December 7, 2018, wind generators can be seen at Jackerath’s coal-fired power plants (AP Photo/Martin Meissner File)

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Jackson stated that solar is becoming a dominant energy source and it is becoming more affordable. It is more affordable than most other forms of electricity generation.

Jackson, Kirshenbaum, among others, said that few people predicted that solar and wind prices will drop so quickly ten year ago.

Experts credit renewable power subsidies as helping to lift the world from the 2008 Great Recession. This is especially true in Germany and the United States.

Endangered species

Each of these environmental successes stories are the bald and humpback wales, American alligators, peregrine falcons, Canada geese, American eagles, and American alligator.

All of them were once at the edge of extinction and were placed on the endangered species protection list. They are now all on the endangered species list. In some cases, they are so common that they are considered a nuisance to other species.

Stuart Pimm, Duke University ecologist, said that conservation efforts are helping to save some endangered species from extinction. This is what conservation looks like.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service took 96 species off of the endangered species listing, 65 because they have recovered.

A group of brown pelicans glides across the waves at Sandbridge beach, Virginia Beach, Va. in 2019 (L. Todd Spencer/The Virginian Pilot via AP, File).

Experts creditregulationsand laws around the world to limit the killing and trade of endangered species and prevent destruction of critical habitat for those critters.

Robert Howarth, Cornell University’s environmental biology professor, stated that DDT was banned because it reverberated through food chains, causing thinning of eggs for birds of prey.

Cooperation

Many of these key successes in the United States were fueled by laws and actions taken during Republican administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Bush.

All of these major milestones including the creation the EPA were bipartisan. However, today we can’t seem get that stuff done, stated Christie Todd Whitman who was an EPA chief during a Republican president. These issues are no longer important to Republicans. It seems that Republicans have become so hyper-partisan that they seem like Neanderthals when it comes to the environment.

Kirshenbaum, a former member of Congress and director for Science Debate, said that when a Republican president is elected, the rest the country moves left and becomes more open to environmental action. What’s important is cooperation and buy-in to big issues from all sides, experts said.

The treaty to heal the ozone hole is the example for what working together can accomplish, Syracuse’s Tuttle said: This agreement proved that the international community could come together to create an enforceable framework to tackle an environmental problem of global significance.

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