Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.
By Caitlin Haworth (Caitlin is student at J.E.B. Stuart High School.)
Dr. Kevin Teichman, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Science in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, was part of the Nifty Fifty Program [editor’s note: The Nifty Fifty Program was part of the USA Science & Engineering Festival events] that brought top scientists to DC-area schools to get students interested and concerned about the future of engineering and science.
During Dr. Teichman’s visit to J.E.B. Stuart High School, not many students knew what to expect. Within the first few moments of the speech, however, he had everyone’s attention. The way he compared his high school years to those of students now was truly amazing.
Between 1966 and 1970 (Dr. Teichman’s high school years), a 1963 Ford Galaxy consumed leaded gas at about 28 cents per gallon. Now, the average cost of unleaded gas in the U.S. is $2.73, almost 10 times the price 47 years ago. On average, a 1963 Ford Galaxy got about 10 miles per gallon (mpg). Today, Dr. Teichman’s gas-electric hybrid car gets about 57 mpg, which far surpasses the average U.S. mpg at 22.6 mpg.
All of this just goes to show how much the world is growing year by year, generation by generation.
In Dr. Teichman’s generation, discoveries made in the science community led to many laws and regulations that changed the world. In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency was created. In the same year the Clean Air Act was passed, setting boundaries on air pollutants. Two years later, EPA removed lead from gas. This one task decreased lead counts in the air by 98%.
Finally, in 1993 EPA concluded that secondhand-smoke can cause cancer and respiratory problems in children and the elderly. As Dr. Teichman mentioned, in the early 90’s, secondhand-smoke was the cause for approximately 3,000 deaths per year.
As the previous generations continue to change the world, they leave behind more challenges for the generation of today’s students. Among these challenges are global climate change, environmental justice, rises in autism, green chemistry and renewable energy. Currently the science world is facing challenges with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Many people are coming together to clean up the mess and ensure that it will not happen again.
As Dr. Teichman concluded, “you don’t succeed overnight.” Everyone can work together to change the world and that is just what the science community does daily.
About the author: Caitlin Haworth is a student at J.E.B. Stuart High School.