Yesterday was Earth Day, a good time to comment on things which, unbeknownst to many, are actually going right with America’s environment.
My own children are rather blase about the whole Earth Day thing. It’s so 1970s. But I am still going with this shtick because there is a lot of great stuff happening out there. Somebody needs to speak up. Younger people, a rapidly expanding category from my vantage point, do not have a clue how much our environment has improved over the last century. Take water quality for instance.p>Upton Sinclair’s famous muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906) excoriated conditions in the Chicago stockyards and packing houses. There you will find this description of a body of water surpassing even the much maligned Cuyahoga River in terms of past environmental degradation: br> /p>
“Bubbly Creek” is an arm of the Chicago River, and forms the southern boundary of the yards; all the drainage of the square mile of packing houses empties into it, so that it is really a great open sewer a hundred or two feet wide. One long arm of it is blind, and the filth stays there forever and a day.br> Conditions such as these are unimaginable today, even on Bubbly Creek , where you can now catch an occasional four-pound coho salmon or buy a million-dollar home.
The grease and chemicals that are poured into it undergo all sorts of strange transformations, which are the cause of its name; it is constantly in motion, as if huge fish were feeding in it, or great leviathans disporting themselves in its depths. Bubbles of carbonic acid gas will rise to the surface and burst, and make rings two or three feet wide. Here and there the grease and filth have caked solid, and the creek looks like a bed of lava; chickens walk about on it, feeding, and many times an unwary stranger has started to stroll across, and vanished temporarily. The packers used to leave the creek that way, till every now and then the surface would catch fire and burn furiously, and the fire department would have to come and put it out. Once, however, an ingenious stranger came and started to gather this filth in scows, to make lard out of; then the packers took the cue, and got out an injunction to stop him, and afterward gathered it themselves. The banks of “Bubbly Creek” are plastered thick with hairs, and this also the packers gather and clean.
Whether you consider pounds of pollution abated, stream segments improved, fisheries restored, the nation has made outstanding progress. Today, twice as many Americans are served by advanced or secondary wastewater treatment compared to over three decades ago.
This past August lake whitefish, the number-one commercial fish in the Great Lakes, and a key indicator of water quality, returned to the Detroit River, part of the connecting channels linking Lakes Huron and Erie. They were found spawning there for the first time since 1916.
The Detroit River lost this valuable fishery due to a witch’s brew of oil, phosphorus, mercury and organochlorine pollution over many years. Relative to 1972 levels, oil and phosphorus pollution levels are down 98 percent and 95 percent respectively. Mercury contamination in fish tissue is down 70 percent, and PCB contamination is down 83 percent as measured in herring gulls from a nearby island.
The Detroit River is no Garden of Eden, but it now has naturally reproducing populations of peregrine falcons, lake sturgeon, and bald eagles, not too mention a world-class walleye fishery for which it shares honors with Lake Erie, once declared dead or dying.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?