by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel

In 2006, Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking said, “Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster such as sudden global warming…” and suggested colonizing other planets to ensure the survival of the human species. Some advocates suggested Mars, because it has plenty of carbon dioxide. That’s ironic, since EPA says CO2 is a planet-destroying pollutant here on Earth.

Despite intense focus on air pollution and climate change in recent years, the link is poorly understood. The divisiveness of that debate leads ever-self-critical Americans to forget how far the nation has advanced in cleaning up its air.

I am no expert on meteorology or climate. But I’ve always taken a simple approach to the global warming debate — we ought to quit polluting the air in every way we can, whether or not it affects the climate, because it is the right thing to do. And the truth is that we made greater progress toward clean air than any nation on Earth.

There are two approaches to reducing pollution. One is the common draconian strategy of forcing people to change their lifestyle, pushing a lower standard of living in which people travel less, live in smaller less comfortable homes, give up cars and other modern conveniences and stop producing, manufacturing and especially consuming. The other approach is to have a little faith in the ingenuity of a free people, and watch how innovation and technology can improve people’s lives, and their environment.

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