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
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
• 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
•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
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
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-