“On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?”

That sentiment expressed in 1830 by Thomas Babington Macaulay, the English essayist, historian and politician, pretty much sums up the misperception imbued by modern-day environmentalism. To hear them tell it – and the general media largely parrot it – our world is nearing the cliff at the hands of environmental degradation.

But consider this:

  • The U.S. has improved water use efficiency by about 30% over the last 30 years.
  • U.S. wetlands are increasing after more than two centuries of decline.
  • Virtually the entire nation has achieved clean air standards for four of the six main pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act.
  • Fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal) are becoming more abundant.
  • Growth in fossil-fuel use in the U.S. is modest; the increase in consumption of energy is overwhelmingly occurring in the developing world.
  • The rate of soil erosion on U.S. farmlands has been steadily declining for the last 25 years, the result of improved farming and conservation practices.

Those points are based on government agency data that was mined by Steven Hayward, PhD, and presented in “The Almanac of Environmental Trends.” Released last month by the Pacific Research Institute, a California-based free market think tank, you can read and/or download the report at www.environmentaltrends.org.

Hayward explains that the almanac is a “reboot” of his “Index of Leading Environmental Indicators,” and brings his role of “tracking environmental progress fully into the digital age of real-time analysis and commentary.” The project covers the seven major indicators of environmental progress – air quality, energy, climate change, water quality, toxic chemicals, forests and land, and biodiversity. It’s intended to be something of a desk reference; the heart of the new format is the website that will be updated with new data and analysis on an almost daily basis.

The intent, he says, is to “explore the nature and sources of environmental progress, affirming the central role of markets, technology and human creativity in solving the environmental challenges of our time.”

Other features of the project include email updates, a Facebook page, Twitter feeds and discussion threads. On the drawing board is a smartphone app, so that “the next time you are at a cocktail party and someone makes an assertion about the ozone layer, or rainforests, or some other hot-button issue, you will be able to check the data on the spot.”

Check out the website at www.environmentaltrends.org and sign up for the newsletter. It’s indispensible reading for cutting through the muck of environmental propaganda.