This post is about pollution and the environment. Please don’t say it is unrelated to education or children. Many children have asthma or other illnesses that are caused or aggravated by pollution. This damages their health, their well-being, even their performance in school.

It wasn’t so long ago that the idea of protecting the environment was considered absurd or too expensive. Smoke came pouring out of chimneys and smokestacks. Cars burned low-grade fuel. People died of lung diseases.

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, has fought the agency in court to block enforcement of regulations. He received campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and represented their interests–not that of the public–when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma.

Trump’s new budget will slash spending for the EPA. Estimates for the cuts vary from 25-70%. What is left of the agency will be devoted to rolling back the efforts of previous administrations–Republican and Democratic–to reduce pollution of the air and water of the nation. Let us recall that the Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1970, by President Richard M. Nixon. It is not a wild-eyed liberal scheme. It is a human, humane effort to maintain the earth and nature, so that it is habitable for all species.

One of Trump’s first executive orders revoked a regulation that prohibited dumping coal waste into streams. The streams will become polluted, unfit for aquatic life, fishing or swimming. Even coal miners like to fish and swim and breathe clean air.

EPA Director Pruitt plans to eliminate the “stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming,” the New York Times reported. He is also expected to eliminate President Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which was intended ” to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.” The deregulation of auto emissions will permit automakers to return to building fuel-guzzling, pollution-emitting cars. It will reduce the need to build fuel-efficient cars like hybrid and electric models. The EPA is already fighting California to block its efforts to enforce tougher tailpipe standards for cars.

Let’s look back at a few images of what our country was like before the government began protecting the environment. By the way, this is something only governments can do, because air and water cross state lines and international borders. Even billionaires and Trump’s children breathe the same air as everyone else, even if they drink Evian and bathe in it.

Take a look at this slide show.

And please read this article.

It begins:

“Once upon a time, you could touch the air in New York. It was that filthy. No sensible person would put a toe in most of the waterways.

“In 1964, Albert Butzel moved to New York City, which then had the worst air pollution among big cities in the United States.

“I not only saw the pollution, I wiped it off my windowsills,” Mr. Butzel, 78, an environmental lawyer, said. “You’d look at the horizon and it would be yellowish. It was business as normal.”

“The dawning of environmental consciousness in the United States during the 1960s led to a national commitment to clean air and water with the creation, in 1970, of the Environmental Protection Agency. It came not a moment too soon for New York City, not to mention the nation.”