My family and I have enjoyed living in the environment here in Northern Virginia since 1980. We enjoy it even more having returned from a cumulative 10 years of assignments in China, where we endured the air of the cities, saw the polluted land and water of the countryside, and talked with Chinese parents who are deeply concerned by the environmental contamination in the food they serve their children. Fortunately, the Chinese government is increasingly responding to the concerns of the Chinese people regarding public health and the environment. That is, conditions there are getting better.
On the other hand, we find increased cause for concern about the environment here in the U.S. After retiring from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after more than 20 years, I am shocked that the proposed budget for EPA includes double digit cuts that will result in less research into environmental problems and how to fix them, fewer enforcement actions to ensure that polluters comply with the law, and less information available to the citizens about the environmental problems we all confront.
While many more citizens are committing themselves to the cause of a livable and sustainable environment (e.g., recycling and composting), the EPA — our flagship in environmental protection — is not-so-slowly sinking from global and domestic leadership toward global and domestic disengagement when it comes to environmental matters.
For the sake of our — and future — generations, we must do better if we are continue to enjoy an environment that is both healthful and sustainable. The future of the environment is brightening in China, but it is dimming here at home.
It has been said that budgets are moral documents. Therefore, the current budget is not one that you would want to bring home to your mother … Earth ... or show to your Father.
Donald G. Barnes, Ph.D.