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Good News for Earth Day

It’s the 44th Earth Day today and those concerned about the earth and its environment have much to celebrate.
For one thing, the gradual temperature rise we saw in the 1980s and ‘90s stopped about 17 years ago, and there has been little or no global warming since, forcing the New York Times to wonder “What to Make of the Warming Plateau.”  Of course, temperatures may start to climb again in the future, but some scientists are predicting a decades-long period of global cooling, a mini-ice age, caused in part by decreased sunspots.
Another reason to celebrate: violent storms have declined. As points out, 2013 had the least hurricane activity since the 1990s. And as we enter tornado season in the U.S., USA Today reported last year that tornado activity had reached a 60-year low.
A third reason: ice is expanding at the poles. For several years concerns have been raised that the polar ice is melting, which would raise sea levels and exacerbate the warming trend. But Antarctic ice has been expanding for several years, and the Washington Post reported last September that Antarctic ice hit a record high.
And it appears that now Arctic ice is increasing as well. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, reported in February that Arctic sea ice was expanding at record levels, and that volume grew by 50 percent last year. In fact, the northern ice expansion has created human problems. reported last month that the Great Lakes ice cover had hit a 35-year high. But the fact that many of the lakes are still frozen this late in the season is creating some problems, especially for shipping.
And one last reason to celebrate, the Environmental Protection Agency reported last October that greenhouse gas emissions from power plants had declined 10 percent for 2011 and 2012, and are at their lowest point since 1994. That decline was in large part due to a shift from using coal to natural gas to generate electricity.
So, there is good news this Earth Day, though somehow we get the impression that there will be many people who won’t find a reason to celebrate.