June 16, 2020

DEP Snapshot: It’s 1992,
Singing the Praises of Department’s Environmental Efforts

(20/S023) – The year 1992 saw environmental efforts in corners as far flung as space and the ends of the Earth – and as close as Trenton.

DEP Efforts
On March 24, the Space Shuttle Atlantis took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral carrying instruments designed to study global warming. The flight included the first Atmospheric Laboratory for Application and Science (ATLAS-1) experiments, which involved studies in atmospheric chemistry, solar radiation, space plasma physics and ultraviolet astronomy.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted on May 9 in New York. The objective of the international environmental treaty was “to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference (human impact) with the climate system.” It also set nonbinding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries.

The first World Oceans Day was celebrated on June 8 and coincided with the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro. The day, according to https://unworldoceansday.org, is “an opportunity to raise global awareness of the benefits humankind derives from the ocean, and our individual and collective duty to use its resources sustainably.”

And on Nov. 13, a report by the World Meteorological Organization reported an unprecedented level of ozone depletion in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Ozone layer depletion causes increased UV radiation levels at the Earth’s surface, which can lead to a rise in certain skin cancers, cataracts and immune deficiency disorders.

There were a couple of unrelated bright spots that year, too.

On April 20, the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert was held in London’s Wembley Stadium. It was the first major rock event to draw attention to AIDS awareness. More than 1 billion people saw the live televised event, which raised millions for AIDS research. The performers included Queen’s Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, as well as George Michael, Elton John, David Bowie, Metallica, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli.

On Oct. 1, the Turner Broadcasting System launched Cartoon Network, the first all-animation television channel. Original programming included “Dexter’s Laboratory,” “Cow and Chicken,” “Johnny Bravo” and “The Powerpuff Girls.” Today, the network broadcasts children’s shows from morning through evening, and then switches over to Adult Swim offerings – aimed at young adults – for the rest of the hours.

And now, a look at 1992 …

By 1992, New Jersey was recognized as a national leader in environmental programs.

An August 1992 article in the New York Times proclaimed: “New Jersey is the Garbage State No More; Once Known for Its Pollution, It is Now Known for Getting Tough on the Polluters.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing an analysis published by City & State magazine, reported in July 1992, “Refineries, crowded highways and hundreds of toxic-waste sites may rank New Jersey among the most polluted states in the country, but a new survey finds the Garden State is number one in dealing with environmental problems.”

According to the analysis, “New Jersey excels in recycling, hazardous-waste management, air and water pollution controls, and wetland and open space preservation.”

Additionally, a state law requiring polluted properties to be cleaned up before they could be sold was considered “the best in the country.”

Furthermore, New Jersey ranked “among the top ten states in environmental spending per capita.”

Within the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy (DEPE), rules were adopted to implement the Pollution Prevention Act, signed into law the previous year, which represented a new approach to environmental regulation. This plan concentrated on decreasing the amount of pollution being released into the environment, rather than simply regulating it after release. The focus on prevention was among a number of innovations the DEPE undertook as it sought to advance environmental protection in a more comprehensive and holistic way.