THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Decade of the Environment
BY F I TZHUGH GREEN
Carter wipes the packing grease off his new administrative
machinery. The incumbents have smoothly grabbed the baton.
They have made no major innovations so far, but they are busily
building on the already registered gains in clean air and water and
grappling bravely with the ever-increasing legions of carcinogens.
Overseas the United States assumed an early leadership
starting in 1971 as its fledgling EPA began to meet, plan, negoti-
ate and swap information with dozens of other countries just
waking up to the eco-peril. Only Sweden (in 1967) had already
formed a national EPA. This country and Great Britain set
theirs up in 1970. As of now there are approximately 50 federal
pollution agencies to be found on the five continents. Also, a
clutch of multinational organizations are busily establishing
pollutant measurement criteria and control guidelines among
The magnificent results of the United Nations Conference
on Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972 are still felt. That
autumn the U.N. General Assembly formed another special-
ized agency and named it the United National Environmental
Program. Headquartered in Nairobi, UNEP is largely an envi-
ronmental monitoring activity but it can and does focus world
attention on major pollution problems. …
The conviction that all nations are enmeshed in the planet’s
deteriorating atmospheric and oceanic system has also evoked
quite a response from other major multinational organizations—
NATO, for one. It was Daniel Moynihan’s idea to reorient the
North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the ecological concerns of
its members. This new departure for NATO began slowly. ...
There is just one fragile spaceship Earth, and …
if we are to survive, we must all take a world view.
–Sen. Harrison Schmitt (R-N.M., 1977-1983)
Fitzhugh Green was with
magazine in New York before coming to Washington to work for the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S.
Information Agency. He then served on the Hill as adviser on foreign affairs and oceanography to Senator Claiborne Pell and ran for Congress
in 1970. After serving as associate administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency for six years, Mr. Green authored
A Change in the
Weather(see the January 1978 FSJ
). He also served as a psywar consultant at American University and is now [May 1978] working on a book
on propaganda and doing consulting work on the environment.
Eight years ago, America’s virgin environmental movement will-
ingly entered the embrace of big government. One offspring of this
union was internationalization. Our president laid down a policy
to encourage other nations to fight against pollution. …How has
the movement fared since President Richard Nixon signed the
National Environmental Policy Act in 1970 and entitled this the
“Decade of the Environment”?
At Home and Abroad
Many battles have been waged domestically between the
polluters and the new federal control agency set up on Dec. 2,
1970—the Environmental Protection Agency. Additional laws have
been passed, and enforced or tested in the courts. The environ-
mental war zone was widened by the Arab oil embargo and fuel
shortage, and the resultant fight to seek relief from strict control
measures. Nuclear energy has been considered and rejected as
the perfect oil-gas substitute. Nearly 30 billion federal dollars have
been earmarked for improving the quality of rivers, lakes and off-
shore waters. Yet we now discover that our globally renowned safe
drinking water is threatened by chlorine, the very substance that is
supposed to purify it.
The air we must breathe has improved somewhat with the
implementation of the 1970 Clean Air Act, despite some relaxation
of the automobile emission regulations. But both air and water
and living creatures, including man, are menaced by the entry into
the market of hundreds of freshly manufactured and inadequately
examined toxic chemicals every month.
So there are wins and losses on the home front as President
ON ENVIRONMENTAL DIPLOMACY