Environmentalists are often said to be obsessed with "gloom and doom." Nice euphony, but no, environmentalists simply want to save what they can of what’s left of the planet. They’re delighted when they are able to forever preserve some part of the world (as for example, the founder of Esprit recently worked with Chile and Argentina to set aside as an international park an enormous preserve in Patagonia). For another successful effort in this country, check out the chart below.
Besides "gloom and doom," it’s often claimed that environmentalists are monomaniacally fixated on imposing a one-size-fits-all regulation on industry.
In fact, in the last two decades, a potent market-based alternative to simplistic regulation has emerged, championed by open-minded experts eager to make progress in reduction of acid rain, air pollution, and carbon emissions. These experts (from such radical outposts as "The Economist") argue that industry will be better able to reduce emissions of harmful substances, such as oxides of nitrogen and ozone, the chief components of acid rain, with what the EPA calls a "Budget Training Program." Such a program is working in Los Angeles to reduce air pollution, and could work around the world to reduce carbon and methane emissions, under the Kyoto Protocol. Here’s how it’s reducing ozone emissions on the East Coast today, according to the EPA:
Note too that this reduction in acid rain became possible only after Ronald Reagan, who, as Chris Mooney expertly shows in his new book "The Republican War on Science," left the scene. Reagan simply refused to face the issue of acid rain, much as his idolizer George Bush Jr. refuses to face the issue of global warming. But when Reagan’s successor reluctantly allowed the Democratic Congress to modify the Clean Air Act to mandate reductions in nitrogen oxides and in ozone, using a market-based cap-and-trade program, emissions almost immediately began to fall, and have continued to fall ever since, despite growth in population and industrial output.
So, to recap, environmentalists are happy to champion successes, as the EPA did on its site regarding acid rain-causing emissions, and are more than willing to look for flexible alternatives to flat regulations that will work.
If only those on the other side were so willing to talk…