April 21, 2004

LEI's VS. LIES (via Mike Daley):

2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators (Steven F. Hayward, April 14, 2004, AEI-Pacific Research Institute) [The full text of this book is available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format.]

The 2004 Index of Leading Environmental Indicators examines government data on numerous environmental conditions, most of which show consistent improvement. This year's edition devotes special attention to troublesome quirks in air quality and the stewardship of public lands. For the first time, the Index will have a special section comparing U.S. environmental trends with trends in European Union nations.

The ninth annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators shows that the environment continues to be Americaís single greatest policy success.  Environmental quality has improved so much, in fact, that it is nearly impossible to paint a grim, gloom-and-doom picture anymore.

Environmental quality is improving steadily and in some cases dramatically in key areas:

* Average vehicle emissions are dropping about 10 percent per year as the fleet turns over to inherently cleaner vehicles, including modern SUVs. 

* Ninety-four percent of the population is served by water systems that have reported no violations of any health-based standards.

* There has been a 55-percent decline in toxic releases since 1988, even while total output of the industries covered by this measurement has increased 40 percent.

* Despite most popular assumptions, U.S. air quality trends are found to be at least equal, if not slightly better, than in Europe. [...]

There have also been notable improvements in government reporting, with the EPAís first-ever composite on national trends and state-based initiatives to improve water-quality monitoring.

Private conservation efforts, such as Ducks Unlimited and the Peregrine Fund, and private water trusts have been highly successful.
And recent findings in climate-change science also give reason for hope.  Because the climate models have been based on flawed economic assumptions, there is even greater uncertainty now in the range of CO2 emissions projections.  This means the prognosis is probably not as grim as conventional wisdom would have us believe. 
The Index shows that one of the few areas to show a decline in quality is that of public lands.  While funding and land allotments have increased, quality has deteriorated by most significant measures.  The root of the problem is an excess of political management, and the answer can be found in innovative solutions such as land trusts and resource leases.

Realistically, how clean could European air be--after all, the French exhale.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2004 11:23 AM

Hayward rocks.

His books on Churchill and Reagan (but where is Vol 2?) are well worth having on the shelf.

I think the most recent Carter book is probably just better as entertainment. :)

Posted by: kevin whited at April 21, 2004 12:31 PM