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May 1978


Decade of the Environment





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

their members.

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


(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