Skip to content

Science Wednesday: I’m an American and Environmental Protection was “My” Idea

2010 June 22

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

The genius behind the Microsoft advertising slogan, “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea,” is that it takes a basic, nonspecific truth—companies use customer feedback when updating their products—and gives it a brand-specific identity. Whether Windows 7 was developed with more user input than were other versions is besides the point. More important is that users feel ownership over the product because Microsoft made their contributions central to its Windows 7 roll-out campaign. The clever way the TV commercials do this is to have individuals claim they personally invented Windows 7, while we all know that many people had a hand in creating the product.

JeffMorrisPortrait-2010As a nation, let’s send a similar message with environmental protection. One can debate whether the roots of environmentalism can be traced back solely to the United States, since global movements nearly always have multiple origins. Yet history is clear that over the past several decades U.S. leadership has been central to the development of the environmental protection laws and practices that exist today around the world.

The value of communicating that environmental protection is an American idea is not in selling the rest of the world on the notion of U.S. environmental leadership, but rather is in reminding ourselves that taking responsibility for safeguarding the air, water, and land on which all life depends is part of who we are as Americans. We as a nation are all about stepping up to responsibilities with a positive, can-do attitude that is not content with accepting how things are, but rather demands forward movement toward what can be. 40 years ago we didn’t just create an EPA: we articulated a vision for the world of what a clean and healthy environment could be. With that vision we built an environmental protection “operating system” that for decades served us reasonably well.

Today we face new and complex environmental challenges. However, new thinking and advances in technology provide opportunities to address those challenges. Central to this new thinking is a growing recognition that environmental sustainability is an essential element of future prosperity and well-being. These challenges and opportunities require that we upgrade our environmental protection OS to version 2.0. It’s appropriate that the roll-out begin here. After all, we are Americans and we are proud to join others in claiming that environmentalism was our idea.

About the author: Jeff Morris is National Program Director for Nanotechnology Research in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

11 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 22, 2010

    If Einstein didn’t create his bomb, maybe my name is not this. If Roosevelt didn’t intimate with Stalin, maybe EPA doesn’t born. All are destiny…. So, EPA must be has a formula to protect the earth, include US’self. God Bless You…!!!!

  2. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    June 22, 2010

    We should all take ownership of the environment and in seeing that the necessary protections are in place for air, drinking water, rivers, coasts, and the land. Good stewardship is a very critical thing to have and very necessary. Agencies and organizations are manifestations of the stewardship but true environmental ownership and steward ship rests with the members of the public. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  3. Elizabeth Madrigal, Editor of permalink
    June 23, 2010

    In my work everyday I write about sustainability within the multifamily community and attempt to highlight new ways to incorporate alternative and responsible practices in a way that protects profitability. In my personal life I am a bit more assertive, as I, too, believe that every American – and world citizen for that matter – needs to take on ownership of our environment. Small acts and gestures from all of us as we take care with what we consume, how we act and what we use can actually save the environment from the accelerating climate change.

    Hopefully more posts like yours will inspire people to remember that there is very little that matters in a world without clean water, healthy air or fertile ground.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 28, 2010

    We all should take responsibility for the environment and now we are aware of whats happening we all should implement what we have been told and learn t to look after this great planet. We must look after the planet for future generations and this is in all areas.Big companies and organizations have stand up and be counted to as they have a huge part in all this to.

    take care

    David lynch

  5. Jeff Morris permalink
    June 28, 2010

    Thanks very much for your comment. Hopefully, all of us will join together in the search for the right forumula to protect the planet. We all need to be part of the solution.

    Very best regards,


  6. Anonymous permalink
    June 28, 2010

    Dear Michael,

    I couldn’t agree more: all of us as citizens have a shared responsibility for environmental stewardship. Thanks so much for your comment.



  7. Jeff Morris permalink
    June 28, 2010

    Dear Elizabeth,

    Thank you for your work on sustainability. It’s so true that what each of us does really matters. You’re comment is heartening, as I know there are many people out there like you, who not only through their words but also in their actions do things every day to protect and nurture our precious planet.

    Best regards,


  8. boro permalink
    July 2, 2010

    David lets start indoor first. Ban the use of tar saturated products like roof felt for indoor use. Every day Americans use minimum of 2000 rolls of the staff indoor. With out knowing of the toxic chemicals in it. The main indoor use is under hardwood floors. We must stop hardwood installers to use it. And we must ask questions like: What does it do and what is made of?

  9. bps permalink
    July 2, 2010

    Hi Elizabeth,
    Trough my work I have found a huge indoor toxic poluter that is used more then 2000 times a day in USA only. It is insall during renovations or in new homes. The interesting part is that the people that know about it do not talk.

  10. Billee Brady permalink
    February 6, 2011


    OI for one am very happy for what today’s technology has allowed up to do, everything from connecting with people from all around the world to capitalizing on the free enterprise that the internet allws up to do…

    Billee Brady

  11. August 1, 2012

    In my opinion it really cool! Now the useful information gives all the best also the state in a convenient, electronic look!)

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS