London has always been known for its fog, but by 1905 Londoners realized there was toxic smoke mixed with the fog–and the word smog was born (EPA). Over the long weekend of Dec 5-9, 1952, the London smog killed more people than would later be killed by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Four thousand people died during the infamous “London Fog” weekend of 1952. Several thousand others died later from lingering illnesses–the total number of fatalities may have reached 12,000. (“The Killer Fog of ’52” NPR).
Republicans were not always opposed to regulations protecting the environment. By the late 1960s, rivers in the United States were on fire, and the health hazards of smog in large industrial cities were well known. Some of the most important environmental legislation was passed under the watch of Richard Nixon (Nixon and the Environment).
It wasn’t until the Reagan Revolution that the Grand Old Party of Teddy Roosevelt began to mock environmentalists and portray them as opposed to progress and part of the lunatic fringe. Under George Bush’s watch, reports from EPA scientists were “redacted” under orders from Dick Cheney’s quarters, indicted criminals were appointed to chair hearings into infractions of environmental protection laws–the foxes were allowed to dismantle the chicken coop. According to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,
Environmental regulations, like brakes on a runaway train, do slow the economy. During the era of the the Reagan Revolution of deregulation, the economy did accelerate. Without burdensome gas mileage requirements, the U.S. auto industry, for example, made a killing on SUVs during the nineties and for a while into the new millennium. General Motors was riding so high on its fleet of gas guzzlers it abandoned its billion-dollar investment in the electric car.
But the voracious appetite for fuel in the U.S., along with China’s unregulated industrial growth, eventually let to to $150.00/barrel oil. The perfect storm of deregulated forces finally came together, and now we have the nationalization of the whole financial sector and a trillion dollar debt to pass on to our grandchildren.