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By Kevin Vorrath

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks you’ve likely heard of the climate strikes being organized around the country and the world, as well as right here in Binghamton. Large crowds of people are out demanding dramatic action be taken to “save” the environment before we hit a climate doomsday, but when you examine the statistics, our environment is better off than we are often led to believe.

Unfortunately, the media and politicians often refuse to report the strides that have been made in improving the environment in the United States.  The narrative that the environment is getting worse year by year in the United States is simply false. Since 1970 the EPA reports that “the combined emissions of six criteria pollutants dropped by 74%, while the U.S. economy grew by 275%. Americans also drove more miles and population and energy use increased. From 2005 to 2017 U.S Carbon dioxide emissions dropped 14%, the most in the world, all while becoming the leading energy producer in the world. We’ve also seen an increase in the access to clean drinking water as well as a reduction in pollution throughout the country” (EPA July Fact Sheet). These statistics indicate that we should be celebrating the environmental advancements we’ve made in the United States, not protesting them. 

It’s also important to address that while the United States makes tremendous strides in regards to the environment, other countries neglect to act. If you truly want to better the environment you need to look at countries such as China and Indonesia that have continually polluted the planet and show no signs of changing. How is it fair that American companies have to compete with foreign companies that do not have to meet the same strict environmental regulations levied on them?  Reversing the trend in these countries is the next big step that must be taken towards improving our environment and ensuring that we can continue to live comfortably for years to come.

These are simple facts that cannot be disputed. Despite the image that they portray, I believe that the Democratic Party does know this. Unfortunately, creating mass hysteria about the environment is the best political move for them at this point. If Democrats were to acknowledge the advancements that the U.S has made with regards to the environment they would no longer be able to politicize the issue to mobilize support. I also believe the majority of the population believes this. It’s why when Congresswoman Ocazio Cortez pitches that we have twelve years before a climate crisis, she’s often met with laughter because we’ve been hearing the same messages since the 1970’s to no avail. In 2006 we heard Al Gore preach on An Inconvenient Truth that we had 10 years until a climate catastrophe unless we made radical changes, yet 2016 came and went and we’re all still here. 

But, instead of acknowledging these logical facts, the left and mass media take a different route.  We end up with sixteen-year-old Swedish girl Greta Thunberg lecturing the United Nations about the radical changes that we need to make to help the environment. I have no problem with kids becoming involved in a political issue and advocating their beliefs. What I do have a problem with is children being brought into the spotlight and used as a political ploy. Instead of having respected scientists with years of research on environmental issues speak, we had a sixteen-year-old. Children, unfortunately, are often used as a shield from criticism in politics. For the past week, we’ve repeatedly seen critics of Greta Thurnberg be met with backlash because you can’t criticize children. In my view, if you are going to push children into the spotlight they should be susceptible to criticism, especially in the case that Greta is being used for. Whether we would like to admit it or not, the only reason that Greta was thrust into this position by liberals was to allow for the immunity of criticism of the radical ideas that she and many others have on the environment.  Why is it that the kids from Covington High School can be attacked throughout the media for not even saying anything, while Greta cannot be criticized?

I think the majority of Americans would say that they do care about the environment. We want to continue to make the changes that will allow us to live comfortably for years to come. What I wish more of us did was applaud ourselves for the success we’ve had. Instead of the pessimistic image that Greta Thurnberg spews about the environment, we should be addressing what we can do to continue to improve conditions without hurting ordinary Americans. Forcing Americans to switch cars and abandon air travel are not logical solutions to help the environment, especially as others continue to pollute. So instead of striking and demanding extreme changes that would negatively affect ordinary Americans, maybe we should take a second to recognize the progress that has been made in the United States over the past several decades, and how well the United States is doing compared to much of the world

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