It may seem strange, but one of my environmental pet peeves is the focus on global warming. And this Earth Day, the focus seems to be especially strong on global warming.
Why? Because it’s so easy to turn global warming into a political issue. And that turns it into something debatable. Even if we establish that global warming is happening, debate turns to whether or not humans are causing it, and whether or not humans can do anything about it anyway. Then the debate ensues over whether anything really should be done.
Personally, I think the focus should be on air quality.
Instead of global warming, let’s focus on air quality. No one is disputing that breathing bad air is bad for you. And there is no doubt that there are plenty of practices that pollute the air. Many of them involve burning fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has rolled back a lot of clean air requirements. But we don’t focus on that so much because we’re focused on global warming. There are solid steps that we can take to improve air quality, including requiring cleaner emissions and developing renewable energy, rather than relying on old-fashioned fossil fuels. And, of course, this will take care of global warming as well.
The environment should be a public health issue. Not a political issue. And as long as we keep the rhetoric focused on global warming, very little will be done.