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Jennifer L. Morgan

Jennifer L. Morgan

Jennifer L. Morgan is the director of the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute.


Unfinished business

Earth Day's founders launched the modern environmental movement by harnessing the public's growing frustration with a polluted country and turning that sentiment into constructive action. The groundswell of public support shown on the first Earth Day translated into public pressure on Congress to act and protect our resources.

Congress responded swiftly. Perhaps most importantly, in 1970, President Nixon proposed and Congress later created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Air Act was enacted in 1963, and revised in 1970 to make it more stringent. The Clean Water Act followed shortly after that. Taken together, these developments made the United States cleaner and healthier and ushered in a new level of national awareness of environmental issues.

Forty years later, some of these environmental challenges remain. We also face a new challenge with an enormous scale: climate change. The period from 2000 through 2009 was the warmest decade on record, and we're already beginning to see some of the effects of this warming.

While climate change will be a challenge to solve, it also presents opportunities for American innovation. With the right policies in place, the United States could lead the world on clean energy. Without new U.S. policies in place, others like Germany and China will continue to lead the clean energy revolution and the risks of climate change will grow to an unacceptable level.

While Earth Day's founders couldn't have predicted it then, acting on climate change has become the country's great unfinished business. Enacting legislation that will spur clean energy innovation and curb global warming pollution would honor the founders' legacy in 2010. The U.S. House of Representatives got started this summer, and now it is the Senate's turn.

In the last 40 years, the people calling for environmental reforms have changed. The best policies are those supported by the public and a range of stakeholders. I can't think of many issues that unite veterans, religious groups, businesses and labor unions, yet climate and energy legislation is one of them.

As we observe Earth Day this week, I hope senators will remember that today, as 40 years ago, people counted on them to make the right choices for America.

By Jennifer L. Morgan  |  April 20, 2010; 2:12 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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If warming is bad, what is the correct temperature?

Posted by: termiteavenger | April 23, 2010 2:39 AM
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Under the light of truth, the green movement has turned into a bowel movement.
But this is what happens when the wacko leftist radicals get hold of legitimate environmental concerns for their agenda.

The 5 Most embarrassing decisions made by Ameicans.

1, I bought an Edsel
2, I bought Bennie Babies to make a fortune
3. I believed the Global Cooling Hoax
4, I believed the Global Warning Hoax
5. I voted for Obama

Posted by: jblast2000 | April 23, 2010 2:29 AM
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Given the alarming rate of destruction and corporate deregulation, Earth Day is more urgent than ever.

Posted by: revbookburn | April 22, 2010 9:13 PM
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The way we treat the earth represents the attention we place on our own health. We are at a point where we no longer respect the earth and we are not taking proper care of ourselves. Enjoying the environment through active, healthy lifestyles is good for a sound mind and body. Check out ways to life active, healthy lifestyles posted on

Posted by: gstallkamp | April 22, 2010 3:49 PM
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The environmental movement has done wonders in getting this country to clean up the waters and the air. Much more needs to be done and could be done except that now most of the money and effort is going into CO2 based global warming fantasies.

Even if the current warming trend continues, most of the warming is occurring in the cold climates in the winter time. The people who live in the colder climates actually don't mind.

Most of the rest of the presumed ill effects of a warmer world are just politically based spin. The sea levels are increasing, but have been doing so since the last ice age. At the current rate of an inch or so per ten years, massive flooding is centuries away. The next ice age is also centuries away and then the sea level will be the least of anyone's concern.

Droughts, floods, hurricanes etc have been happening throughout recorded history. There isn't much reason to believe that these will be worse if the world temperature goes up another degree in the next hundred years. Warmer weather leads to more rain in most places, and rainfall has increased in most places during the current warm spell.

Only by fudging the numbers about the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman times, and even the 1930s can the warmists claim that today's temperatures are unprecedented. The whole house of cards called AGW GHG is crumbling as more research conflicts with the fundamentally false claims that today's temperatures are unusual.

Maybe the environmental movement will survive the collapse, but it is still a shame that so much time and money has been diverted from real pollution and other real environmwental issues.

Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | April 20, 2010 6:57 PM
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