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42

JULY-AUGUST 2017

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

NATO’s environmental projects have included comparative

studies of city air pollution and of industrial effluents into a river

shared by two countries, experiments in low-powered autos,

conservation, earthquakes, and geothermal energy. Its program is

known to participants as CCMS—the Committee on Challenges of

Modern Society.

On balance I believe these big programs, as well as many

others handled routinely by EPA and the State Department, were

worth the taxpayers’ investment. These activities have resulted in

considerable publicity each step of the way. They directly involved

thousands of foreigners. …When American and overseas environ-

mental experts share their know-how on the spot, the effect can be

immediate. For example in a 1976 meeting between Japanese and

American experts held at the State Department inWashington, our

people acquired disposal information on PCBs (polychlorinatedbi-

phenyls) that could be copied directly and promptly.

An International Movement

Although the Americans are leading in post-Stockholm care of

the environment, the movement is prospering inmany countries.

Indeed, a majority of both developed and developing nations have

rapidly established legislative, scientific, political and administra-

tive safeguards over the dwindling supplies of usable air, water and

soil. During an almost flash-fire reaction to the “ecology revolu-

tion,” nations have come to a growing planetary consensus on the

following axioms.

• It is more practical to industrialize with built-in ecological

safeguards at the beginning than to install retrofit machinery to

clean up the mess later, as we are having to do in the United States.

• Some corrective steps are expensive, such as stack-gas scrub-

bers to scour the outflows from fossil fuel-fired power plants;

sewage treatment works; or devices to purify automobile exhausts.

(Expense has already slowed the abatement of pollution inmany

poorer countries.)

•The chronic fuel shortage may retard advances in environ-

mental control, but the need to conserve energy goes hand in hand

with good ecological stewardship. New energy enterprises like

offshore drilling, extraction of oil from shale, or stripmining of coal

can be done withminimal disruption of natural surroundings.

• Since the earth has but one reservoir of air, water and soil,

manmust strive to save it in concert with his fellows—through

bilateral andmultilateral cooperation in research, interchange

of technology, and setting mutually satisfactory standards of

environmental quality. This last point is a reminder that no nation

wants to have another nation’s standards jammed down its throat.

This doesn’t rule out the possibility that one nationmay voluntarily

choose another's criteria. The Japanese, for example, have incorpo-

rated word for word the automobile provisions of the United States

Clean Air Act of 1970.

• Finally, many countries now embrace the “polluter pays”

principle as the fairest way to fund the repair of ravaged environ-

ment. This principle has been promoted by the Organization for

Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes 24

industrialized nations, but not the Soviet Union or China. …

This summarizes the thinking of political leaders supported by

the scientists and engineers of EPAs everywhere. The politicians

inevitably keep leaving the public stage, but the technical people

keep their act going for the duration of their careers; in the brief

seven years we have been dealing with foreign EPAs we have found

this to be true in all countries. So the relationships that blossom at

the professional level are the important ones (not those among the

summit types) for they will form the basis for enduring coopera-

tion. Without them, nations would be hobbled in the difficult and

complex arrangements that must be made in the years ahead.

LDCs Get on Board

Looked at globally and nationally in this spring of 1978, the

environmental movement shows some new color and form,

particularly in the less developed countries. The euphoria which

followed Stockholmwas sadly diminished by the energy short-

age which has acted, as World Bank President Robert McNamara

predicted, as a dangerous brake on industrial development in the

needy nations.

Nevertheless, a solid interest has grown up in the LDCs because

they are realizing at last that environmentalismmeans concern for

basic human needs such as potable water, breathable air, livable

land space—all of which can be ruined by industrial pollution.

This is a big change in attitude since the pre-Stockholmdays when

many LDCs feared that the fad for pollution reduction was a sur-

reptitious device of the “have” nations to inhibit the growth of the

“have-nots.”

UNEP has encouraged this new view of the LDCs by stressing

their programs above others in its worldwide budget.

Another cheery note to keep the LDCs in the ranks of enthusi-

astic environmentalists has been an increased U.N. focus onmore

sophisticated and broader environmental issues. This has been sig-

nalized by the 1976 U.N. conference of human settlements called

“Habitat.” Habitat spawned a pledge that member states should

somehow provide a glass of clean drinking water for every human

being from 1990 on; in turn the U.N. Water Conference of 1977

examined practical schemes to bring this dream to reality. The U.N.

Conference on Desertification and increasing studies about defor-