As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the birth of modern environmentalism, we should pause to give each other a virtual high five for the impressive environmental progress society has accomplished during this span. We should also think about the ways we can make the next 50 years far more effective. Case in point: many people are surprised to hear that the environment is improving. A lot. This surprise grows from the unfortunate flip side of the Earth Day legacy, which too often can focus on doomsaying and alarmism, which can make us despondent and drive poor policies.
Cooking over an open fire or with traditional stoves is widely practiced in Ghana, but these common methods carry serious risks. Emissions caused by the use of solid fuels such as wood and charcoal are one of the leading health concerns in many developing countries. Globally, over 1.6 million people died in 2017 from diseases related to poor household air quality, and in Ghana, 10,000 lives are lost to this cause annually.
If you listen to the media, a green automotive future has arrived and a tsunami of electric cars is outselling petrol and diesel around the world, transforming the planet and solving climate change. We need a reality check. Battery-powered electric vehicles are fairly popular in urban China and California, as well as a few countries that heavily subsidise their drivers. But globally, fewer than 0.3 per cent of all cars are pure electric, and across Europe, BMW says, customers don’t want them.