Climate Conviction at What Price?
Newsweek US|June 14, 2024
Fifty years ago experts doubted Americans would pay to save the environment. Only some of their fears are still true
ANNA SKINNER
Climate Conviction at What Price?

IN 1972, NEWSWEEK PUBLISHED A COVER story warning the world about the need to clean up the Earth. A little more than 50 years later, some of those warnings are still being issued and ignored.

When the article was first published on June 12, 1972, the environment was at the top of many Americans' minds. The Environmental Protection Agency was not yet two years old, the third Earth Day had just been celebrated, and a slew of federal policies with promises to protect the environment were beginning to take hold. What came next was decades of progress chartered by those early labors.

President Joe Biden has a lofty aspiration of reducing U.S. emissions by up to 52 percent in 2030, achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by 2050.

However, some experts argue that Biden's goals are only that-aspirational-and that more change is needed if the U.S. hopes to make a real difference.

SOUNDING THE ALARM Newsweek published an extensive report delving into the state of the environment in its issue dated June 12, 1972.

Some Prioritize Sustainability

A half-century ago, experts doubted Americans would be willing to pay more money and disrupt their lives to help save the planet, according to the 1972 Newsweek report. They also wondered if company sustainability efforts would help build brand loyalty.

"Yet even with environmentalism an established fact of American life, many experts are beginning to wonder just how far the public-not business or government is willing to go," the Newsweek report said. "For whether he likes the notion or not, the consumer will pay the lion's share of the tab for a cleaner environment, either in higher prices, higher taxes or more likely-both."

Time has shown that they needn't have worried on either front: modern Americans are more than willing to change their ways to save the environment.

This story is from the June 14, 2024 edition of Newsweek US.

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This story is from the June 14, 2024 edition of Newsweek US.

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