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Course Description

Are claims that the US has the best air and water quality in the world correct? Do the recent rollbacks of air pollution and wetlands rules really produce net economic benefits? What does the US experience in addressing major air and water pollution of the 1960s and ’70s suggest about our ability to address climate change? We outline how industrial and energy transformations of the 19th and 20th centuries produced mounting problems that came to a head in the 1960s, leading to the first Earth Day, the birth of the Environmental Protection Agency, the landmark Clean Air Act in 1970, and new water protection laws. We show the rapid development of expertise at all levels of government, industry, and science. We assess the successes and failures of the last 50 years in air and water pollution, highlighting the importance of scientific research, monitoring, and accountability. Finally, we briefly address the implications of these past efforts on programs needed to address climate change. | Lecture + Q&A.
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