Monday, February 20, 2012
Does the Environment Need Protected?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 under President Nixon. According to its website, “The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.” Thanks to the EPA, we are all able to enjoy cleaner air, purer water, and fewer toxic chemicals in our environment than would be the case if there were no such agency.
And yet there are those among us, including some leading politicians, who say that the EPA is not needed. Last year presidential contenders Michelle Bachmann declared that the EPA should be eliminated and Rick Perry said it should be “dismantled.” Herman Cain held a similar position.
Now Ron Paul says on his website that he will “eliminate the ineffective EPA.” Newt Gingrich says that if he is elected president he would abolish the EPA and replace it with something he calls the Environmental Solutions Agency. Campaigning in Colorado earlier this month, Rick Santorum dismissed climate change as “a hoax.” He, too, wants to get rid of the EPA.
Mitt Romney’s position is the only one among Republican presidential hopefuls that doesn’t seem to be strongly against the EPA. In fact, last summer right-wing talk radio host Mark Levin castigated Romney for being a RINO (Republican in name only) who acknowledges that global warming is a fact and holds up for the EPA.
No doubt there are some reforms needed in the EPA. There probably is some money wasted, as is most likely true in all government agencies. There are more than 17,000 employees in the EPA and its budget for 2010 was about 10.5 billion dollars. That’s a lot of money. But to put it into some perspective, in 2008 the U.S. spent 12 billion dollars a month in Iraq.
Six years ago this month, on February 16, 2006, the Kyoto Protocol went into effect for the nations who had signed and ratified that agreement, which was aimed at fighting global warming. That gathering held in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997 and sponsored by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, sought ways to prevent “dangerous anthropogenic [human-caused] interference with the climate system.”
To the present, 192 countries have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol. There are only four countries that have not done so. One is the United States. The others are Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Taiwan. Even with the current Environmental Protection Agency in place, this country doesn’t seem to be doing all it should to protect the environment. And now most Republican presidential contenders even want to do away with the EPA!
Humans can harm, and have harmed, the environment and human health in many ways. Remember DDT? The EPA concluded that it “posed unacceptable risks to the environment and potential harm to human health,” so it was banned at the end of 1972. That, doubtlessly, was a positive thing for people’s health.
The environment definitely does need protected from what we humans can do to it, and to healthy human life, by pollutants discharged into the air or the water cycle—and by excessive emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouses gasses into the atmosphere.