Apparently I almost made the New York Times today…
I didn’t, and I wouldn’t have by name in any case, but a few weeks ago I chatted online with a friend of a friend who, turns out, is a regular at the Times. When we talked, he was in Beijing. We talked about air pollution, good masks, and the Chinese’s reaction (or lack thereof) to the travesty that is air quality in China.
I’m pleased to share with you now an article about the global perspective on air pollution by Richard Conniff: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/opinion/sunday/in-beijing-and-washington-a-breath-of-foul-air.html?smid=tw-nytopinion&smtyp=cur&_r=0
Back in New Jersey, the air quality index was generally under 50, and it reminded me how lucky we are to have relatively strong laws and regulations to protect our air. These are the same protections that President Donald J. Trump loudly promised during his campaign to undo on his first day in office. Indeed, the new Republican-dominated House of Representatives this month passed a Regulatory Accountability Act, which will give the new president power to roll back an array of governmental regulations, including 50 years of environmental protections — with as little public notice as possible. It could undermine even the Clean Air Act of 1972 and for the first time oblige regulators to put corporate profits ahead of public health.
My flight home took me in over northern New Jersey, and glancing out the window, I was startled by how clear the air seemed and how even Newark seemed to glitter in the night. Maybe there were people below willing to risk their health for better jobs, and no doubt there were people yearning for a better economy. But the lesson from China is that wrecking the environment is precisely the wrong way to get there.
– Richard Conniff