The Best Earth Day Present: Freedom

Lawrence Solomon The Wall Street Journal April 20, 1990 Since the first Earth Day in 1970, there has been a lot of good news on the environment.  The deserts of the Sahel may not be spreading after all.  And Lake Erie is no longer dead; its waters now team with tens of millions of walleye.  But the best environmental news of all is the opening of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Latin America. A very large proportion of the globe’s environmental problems are caused by policies that cannot stand the scrutiny of either the marektplace or the voting booth.  Sweeping world trends – political, economic, and technological – are fundamentally changing the globe’s environmental ground rules for the better. Take Eastern Europe, the dirtiest, most degraded region on Earth.  Eighty percent of East Germany’s rivers are contaminated, and some of its citizens breathe air polluted 50 times above safe limits; two-thirds of Poland’s trees are damaged; two-thirds of its rivers too dirty even for industry; 80% of Bulgaria’s farmland is threatened by erosion, 25% of its animal and plant species are threatened.  Throughout the Eastern Bloc life expectancty has been dropping, with millions suffering from environmentally induced diseases.  Some Eastern Europeans can expect to live a decade less than Western Europeans. Now all this is being swept away by democracy and economic rationality. Click here to read part one of article Click here to read part two

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