As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, it is worth analyzing the evolution of environmental policies in the United States: where we were prior to the environmental movements of the 1960s and 1970s, what those movements gave us, and how our current environmental innovations are guided by free market enterprise. Is Greta Thunberg correct? Is capitalism the cause of climate change or will it be our salvation? And as we confront the growing existential threat of climate chaos, how will we hold those who have committed the crimes of the past accountable?
Frank M. Dunnivant is a professor of chemistry at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and the author of Environmental Success Stories.