James Gustave Speth
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Reprinted from EARTH '88: Changing Geographic
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ISBN 0-915825-36-8
Washington, D. C.
Changing Geographic Perspectives
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published by the GILBERT M. GROSVENOR, President =#H==== NATIONAL
w ,. 7 ,-r 1- c • i. OWBNR. ANDERSON, Executive Vice President =#=^=#^ ^
National Geographic community ROBERT L BREEDEN;Senior Vice President itfOQ
Publications and academic Media
• iiiiiiiiiiiiiiijiiiillliiiEtiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiEitiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
James Gustave Speth
World Resources Institute Today, air pollution is occurring on a huge and unprece-
dented scale around the world. Styles point in 2 omi-
nous directions: very first, toward large and growing releases
of specific chemicals—principally from burning fossil fu-
els—that are actually considerably altering the normal sys-
tems on a global scale; and 2nd, toward constant in-
creases in the use and release to the environment of
innumerable biocidal products and toxic substances.
These shifts from the «sewage and soot» concerns of the
pre-World War II periods to greatly more serious con-
cerns pose formidable challenges for societies, both in-
dustrial and developing—challenges that contemporary pollu-
tion control laws and regulations address only partially. To deal with the
serious pollution challenges of decades ahead, several
large-scale social and technological transitions are need-
ed. Today's air pollution is integrally linked to economic
production, modern tools, life-styles, the sizes of
human and animal populations, and a number of other fac-
tors. It is unlikely to produce except to broad macrotransi-
tions that have numerous social benefits. These transi-
tions consist of shifting from fossil fuels and waste-
intensive technologies, bringing our many sophisticated
science to keep, altering costs as well as other financial incen-
tives, perceiving pollution as transboundary and international,
and progressing to a reliable world populace.
ollution has existed provided that humans have
organized societies and carried out financial activi-
ty, though this has varied enormously with time, type,
and seriousness. In an amusing scene in a recent
popular film, Captain Kirk awakes from an early
attempt at time-travel and, gazing down, views that his
starship is, as hoped, orbiting Earth. «Earth,» he
says, «but when?» To which Mr. Spock, checking his
instrument panel, replies, «Judging from pollu-
tion content of atmosphere, I believe we now have ar-
rived within latter 50 % of the twentieth century.» And in-
deed they'd. In reality, if good documents were
262 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
iHiiiiimiMiiiimiiii i i i i nn nil n nun iiniiiiiini i mi i n
available, it should be possible to make use of world's pollut-
ant mix and atmospheric condition to measure the date
with much larger precision than did Mr. Spock.
By meaning, pollution is harmful—too much
of something in the wrong destination. In appropriate
quantities, some erstwhile pollutants are beneficial.
Phosphates alongside plant nutritional elements are crucial to
aquatic life; an excessive amount of these nutritional elements, however,
and eutrophication outcomes. Co2 into the at-
mosphere assists in maintaining Earth warm enough to be hab-
itable, but the buildup of vast levels of excess car-
bon dioxide from fossil gas use along with other sources
now threatens to alter the planet's environment. Other
pollutants, like dioxin and P.C.B.s, are so toxic that
even probably the most minute amounts pose side effects,
such as cancer tumors and reproductive impairment.
Releases of toxins to the environment are
most usually the casual by-product of some of good use ac-
tivity, including generating electricity or increasing cows.
Pollution of this type is a type of waste disposal. It
occurs whenever economic expenses of eliminating the
pollution exceed the financial benefits, at least the
benefits towards polluter—a calculation historically
skewed and only pollution since the atmosphere
and waterways are addressed as free disposal
sites. But releases of toxins may also be purpose-
ful, as with pesticides, in which biocidal substances are
released in to the environment to reap financial re-
wards, or accidental, like in oil spills, where in fact the pollut-
ers themselves suffer loss.
Pollution is usually categorized in several
ways—by getting media, sources, kinds of pollut-
ants, and effects. Possibly the most customary pollu-
tion groups are those that focus on the receiving
media: atmosphere (emissions), water (effluents), and land
(dumps and disposals). A slightly more sophisticat-
ed breakdown would differentiate between inland
and marine waters, area and groundwater, tropo-
sphere and stratosphere, and maybe we should
now add outer space aswell, provided the satellite and
other debris amassing around. Many discus-
sion and regulation of pollution is made around these
categories, but concern is shifting increasingly to in-
ter-media effects, such as the acidification of lakes
and streams brought on by air pollution and/or disposal
on land or within the ocean of sludges as well as other residuals
from air- and water-pollution control measures.
While public attention most often concentrates on
industry, almost all sectors of modern life are pro-
ducers of air pollution: households, farming and for-
estry, and government, plus industry and com-
merce. Our affluent households produce huge
volumes of trash along with other solid waste, liquid
sewage, and exhausts from our cars and trucks. In re-
cent years, pollution from agriculture has attracted 200 |—
C 100
1800 1880 1400 1920 N-IO l%0
Year 1980 2000
• i i i i nun letter 1111 i ill
Figure 1. In 1975, 92 percent of sulfur emissions had been from fossil
fuel combustion, 51 percent from coal alone, [source: Moller, D. 1984. Es-
timation associated with the international man-made sulfur emission. Atmospheric Environ-
ment 18(l):19-27]
increased attention. By some measures, agriculture
is now the biggest source of pollutant loadings to
U. S. streams and lakes. Soil particles, fertilizers,
pesticides, animal wastes, salts, and other sub-
stances that clean into U. S. streams from agriculture
cost Americans huge amounts of dollars yearly (Conser-
vation Foundation 1987).
While responsibility for air pollution is wide-
spread, two individual tasks deserve special note:
our reliance on fossil fuels, the combustion of which
gives rise to carbon monoxide and co2,
oxides of nitrogen and sulfur (Figure 1), hefty met-
als, and particulates; and our reliance regarding the chemi-
cal and metals companies, which are linked directly
and indirectly to air pollution from pesticides, synthetic
organic chemical compounds, fertilizers, heavy metals, and the
generation of dangerous wastes.
Most toxins are of concern as a result of their
chemical task, may it be toxic impacts on living
organisms or damage to structures and corrosion of
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 263
mil i r 11111111 iiiiiiimiiii 111 • • 1111 ii i ii 11 nun 11 mini i II n iiinmni i mill limn mill in mi nimiii iiiimin nil
1930.--, £ •': i94S •'.-••- •.-. ;• J960 —1975 • 1985
• II111IIIIII111 Mil II111 f III Ii 11111IIII | [| III || I] 111 El I] II111IIII I] IIIM r IIIIJ111IIII111 III II111 M 11IIII11111II11111II11111111111111111
Figure 2. in america sulfur dioxide emissions increased by
about 160 percent in this century, while nitrogen oxide emissions in-
creased by about 900 percent, [source: 1900-1935—Gschwandtner, G.,
Gschwandtner, K. C, & Eldridge, K. 1985. Historic Emissions of Sulfur
and Nitrogen Oxides in the usa from 1900 to 1980.1940-1985—En-
vironmental Protection Agency. 1987. National Air Pollutant Emission
Estimates 1940-1985]
metal. But there are lots of kinds of non-chemical
pollution—notable principally for their phys-
ical effects—including radiation, both ionizing and
nonionizing; thermal air pollution; infrared trapping;
noise; waterborne as well as other pathogens; silt, trash,
and different solid wastes; and aesthetic air pollution, in-
cluding odors and exposure impairment.
It is customary to think of toxins as having
negative effects on peoples health insurance and „welfare,“
where welfare is meant to add everything other
than wellness effects. The severe health conditions pol-
lution causes—cancer, breathing conditions, infec-
tions, and a host of others—are well known. Fortu-
nately, after some several years of neglect, the welfare
consequences of pollution are starting to receive
serious attention and. Certainly, its becoming clear
that „welfare“ is an inadequate label to place on a vari- ety of negative pollution impacts, including:
• financial harm caused by pollution, particularly the
damage to crops, woodlands, and fisheries;
• harm to leisure and visual satisfaction of
the environment—for instance, loss in presence and
of searching and fishing opportunities;
• environmental degradation of normal areas, including
the impoverishment of ecosystems and changes in
habitat and types distribution because of pollution
stresses; and
• interruption of services given by normal sys-
tems, for instance the regulation of weather and hydrolog-
ic systems.
Some sense of the financial harm triggered by
pollution can be seen in the benefits that air pollution
control has accomplished. One present research estimated the
annual gross advantages (perhaps not advantages net of pollution
control expenditures) on U. S. populace in 1981
from air pollution control become between $20 billion
and $54 billion (Freeman 1979, Leighton et al. 1984).
Yesterday, Today,
and Tomorrow
OIIII • • • Hill • • • • mi • i • HIM II 11111 IMII 11 inn 111 in i mi 11 null 11 II linn 111 II in II 111 mi 11111
Today, pollution is occurring on a huge and un-
precedented scale worldwide. It is pervasive, affect-
ing in some way practically everybody and everything.
Trends, specially since World War II, are in
two guidelines: first, toward large and growing re-
leases of particular chemical substances (principally from burning
fossil fuels) that are now significantly altering natural
systems on a global scale; and, second, toward
steady increases in use and release to your envi-
ronment of countless biocidal products and toxic
substances. These changes through the „sewage and soot“
concerns of the pre-war period to vastly more serious
concerns pose formidable challenges for communities,
both industrial and developing—challenges that
modern pollution control laws and regulations address only partial-
ly. The dramatic alterations in air pollution inside century
are well described with regards to four long-term styles.
From Modest Quantities to
Huge Quantities
The 20th century has witnessed unprecedent-
ed development in human population and economic activi-
ty. World population has increased significantly more than three-
fold; gross globe product by maybe twentyfold;
264 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
and fossil fuel usage by over tenfold (Brown et al.
1987). In the usa, gross national product
(G.N.P.) has exploded by a factor of nine in this centu-
ry, and fossil fuel use has a lot more than doubled since
1950 (D.O.E. 1987).
With these huge increases in populace and
economic activity attended huge changes in the
quantities of pollutants released. Think about just how in-
creased use of fossil gas influences sulfur dioxide
and nitrogen oxide emissions. These products of fos-
sil gas combustion are among the principal sources
of smog along with other urban polluting of the environment; they truly are also
the toxins that give rise to acid rainfall. Between
1900 and 1980, yearly sulfur dioxide emissions grew
by an estimated 470 per cent globally (to about 160
million metric tons) by about 160 % in the
United States (to about 23 million metric tons). Nitro-
gen oxide emissions in the usa increased
by about 900 percent during this period (to about 20
million metric tons annually) (Figure 2).
Another gasoline created by burning fossil fuels is
carbon dioxide (CO2), among the greenhouse gases
implicated in international warming and environment modification.
One recent estimate is that, as a result of human being ac-
tivity, annual global emissions of CO2 have actually increased
about tenfold in this century (MacDonald 1985) (Fig-
ure 3). One results of this upsurge was the dra-
matic increase in the CO2 content of Earth's atmo-
sphere. The accumulation of greenhouse gases such as
CO2 can lead to international climate modification, which includes far-
reaching implications for agricultural production,
coastal flooding, and peoples well-being.
These samples of razor-sharp increases in pollution
in this century could be increased by numerous others—
in the United States alone, hills of trash and
other solid waste, the total amount of which includes roughly
doubled within the last three years; hundreds of
millions of a great deal of hazardous wastes created an-
nually; about 500 million pounds of insecticides pro-
duced yearly, only 50 % of which reaches a crop
and lower than 1 percent that reaches an insect
(C.E.Q. 1981). In these alongside means, the twentieth cen-
tury happens to be a century of vast increases in the quan-
tity of pollutants imposed on a finite environment.
From Gross Insults to
Before World War II, concern with air and wa-
ter air pollution concentrated mainly on smoke and sew-
ers, issues with which folks have grappled
since the dawn of metropolitan areas. The standard general public health
threats—killer fogs like one which sickened thou-
sands and killed 20 in Donora, Pennsylvania, in 1948; 1
1925 1933 ' 1945 1955 1965
Year 1975
• MlliniiiiiiiiiiMiiiililllllliiiiiiiiniillfliiiiiiiiiiiiMllliMMiiiniiiilllliiiiiiiitlilliiuiiiiiiiiifilllliiHiiMiiiniiiilli
Figure 3. The steady and large escalation in worldwide carbon dioxide
emissions in recent decades comes from fossil gas combustion, industrial
processes, and biotic sources such as for example deforestation and destruction of
soil humus, [source: biotic emissions—Houghton, R. et al. Alterations in the
carbon content of terrestrial biota and soils between 1860 and 1980: a net re-
lease of CO2 toward environment. Ecological Monographs 53(3):235-236, and
unpublished data; CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion—Rotty,
R.M., University of the latest Orleans, November 1986; C.F.C. emissions-
Chemical Manufacturers Association. 1986. Production, Sales, and Calcu-
lated launch of CFC-11 and CFC-12 Through 1985. Washington, D. C]
and sanitary water materials for urban areas—were
serious concerns. Structures coated with soot and
grime, and streams thick with algae were typical
non-health problems (e.g., Kapp 1971, Melosi 1980).
The emergence associated with chemical and nuclear in-
dustries fundamentally changed this consider gross
insults. Paralleling the dramatic development in vol-
ume of older pollutants, particularly sulfur dioxide, has
been the introduction inside post-World War II peri-
od of the latest chemical substances and radioactive substances,
many which are highly toxic in even minute quan-
tities and some that persist and accumulate in
biological systems or inside atmosphere.
The artificial organic chemicals industry is
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 265
240 iniiiiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiMii iiiiiiiini
(million Ib.)
1949-52 1956 I960 1964 l%8 (972 1976 1980 1984
• lllllllMlllllllllllllllllllllllltllUllinilllllllllllllllllllllllllilMIIIIIIIIIMIIIIIIIIIIIIMIIIIIIIIIMIIIIIIIHIIIIIMIIlllllM
Figure 4. This industry hardly existed before World War II, and be-
tween 1950 and 1985, annual manufacturing grew from about 24 billion to 225
billion pounds, [source: artificial organic chemicals—Department of
Commerce, Overseas Trade Commission 1954, '56, '58, '60, '62, '63, '65,
'67, '69, '71, '73, '75, '77, '79, '81, '83, '85. Artificial Natural Chemicals.
P.C.B. production—Council on Ecological Quality. 1979. Environ-
mental Statistics 1978. Washington, D. C, p. 129]
largely a product of this final half century. The indus-
try barely existed before World War II, and between
1950 and 1985 its annual U. S. production expanded from
about 24 billion to 225 billion pounds (Figure 4). Or-
ganic substances (those who have carbon) occur-
ring in nature will be the foundation of life, but over the past 50
years, thousands of artificial organic com-
pounds were introduced in to the environment
as pesticides, plastic materials, commercial chemical compounds, medical
products, detergents, food ingredients, and other com-
mercially valuable items. Life once we know it
would barely function as same without these items,
but the growth of this chemical industry has
also given increase to a vast and, to many, a frightening
armada of the latest products which are bad for people
or nature. Significantly more than 90 percent associated with substances imiiiiiiiiiiiiiMiMiiiiiiHiiiiMiMiiiiimiiiiiiMiiiiiiHiimiiimmiinmiiiiiiiMiiiiiiMiiiiiiMiii
listed as possible human carcinogens by the U. S.
National Toxicology Program are organic chemicals,
as are 110 of 126 poisons detailed as priori-
ties under the Federal Clean Water Act (Conserva-
tion Federation 1987).
These substances are but a few of the bewilder-
ing number of chemical compounds that confront environmen-
tal regulators. The U. S. noxious substances Control
Act stock lists above 63,000 chemical sub-
stances which were utilized commercially since 1975,
and today brand new chemicals are introduced into the Unit-
ed States at a consistent level around 1,500 per year (Conserva-
tion Foundation 1987). Of roughly 70,000 chemicals
in trade today, as many as 35,000 are classed by the
U. S. ecological Protection Agency (E.P. A.) and
the Organization for Economic Cooperation and De-
velopment (O.E.C.D.) as surely or potentially
harmful to human wellness (I.I.E.D. & W.R.I. 1987).
Pesticides, a major product of the modern
chemicals industry, are released to your environment
precisely because they're toxic (Figure 5). Globally,
pesticide sales have actually skyrocketed from about $5 bil-
lion in 1975 to $28 billion in 1985 (1977 bucks). Pro-
jected sales for 1990 are $50 billion, a tenfold increase
since 1975 (U.N.E.P. 1987a). About 90 percent of all
pesticides are accustomed to increase agricultural produc-
tion (mainly of corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, and
rice), & most for the remainder are utilized inside health pro-
tection industry (U.N.E.P. 1987a). Some great benefits of pesti-
cides for increasing world food supply and control-
ling conditions are undeniably great, nevertheless the success of
pesticides has removed an amount regarding side ef-
fects, including undesireable effects on individual health.
Perhaps a million situations of acute pesticide poisoning
occur yearly global, and there are numerous other
negative consequences aswell (U.N.E.P. 1987a).
One crucial exemplory instance of regulatory response
to pesticide risks took place in 1979, once the E.P. A.
issued emergency purchases to suspend the registration
of two of the very most widely used herbicides in the Unit-
ed States, Silvex and 2,4,5-T. The action was based
on human being proof and animal tests that indicated
that these herbicides and their typical contami-
nant, dioxin, could cause miscarriages, delivery defects,
and other undesirable reproductive results. Studies of
dioxin show so it has fetotoxic results in rats and
monkeys at levels as little as 10 components per trillion;
dioxin seems to be carcinogenic in test animals at
doses as little as 2.2 components per billion. Also, no
one doubts that dioxin is extremely carcinogenic, but the
debate on precisely how carcinogenic continues (C.E.Q.
1979, New York occasions December 9, 1987).
Two of the very widely acknowledged prob-
lems related to pollution's development toward in-
creasingly dangerous substances will be the accumula-
266 world '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
i i i i i iiiiinii mi i i i n mil i 11 ii mi
tion of nuclear and hazardous waste. The United
States leads the planet in dangerous waste generation
with a yearly total of approximately 264 million metric tons,
including heavy metal residues and volatile organic
and other chemical wastes (Figure 6). About 1 per
cent of the quantity is toxic; the rest is water and oth-
er nontoxic chemical compounds (I.I.E.D. & W.R.I. 1987). The
legacy of previous mismanagement among these wastes is
staggering. Quotes associated with range hazardous
waste dump-sites in the United States that now re-
quire cleaning differs from 2,000 to 10,000, and the
cost of cleaning from about $20 billion to $100 billion
(I.I.E.D. & W.R.I. 1987).
The great degrees of radioactive materials
generated by the nuclear tools and nuclear pow-
er industries will always be a whole lot more tightly
controlled than chemical waste. Nonetheless, in
many countries numerous incidents of unpermitted
radiation releases have occurred, probably the most important
of these being the Chernobyl nuclear power reactor
accident in 1986. Contamination from Chernobyl
spread over a lot of Europe. The long-term health
effects remain uncertain, with quotes of from
5,000 to 50,000 extra fatalities from cancer over
the next 30 to 60 years (I.I.E.D. & W.R.I. 1987).
From First World to
Third World
A myth easily exploded by a call to many de-
veloping countries is the fact that pollution is predominately
a dilemma of the very industrialized countries.
While it is real your commercial countries account
for the bulk of the pollutants produced today, pollu-
tion is a critical problem in developing nations,
and probably the most dramatic and alarming exam-
ples of its consequences can be seen here. This is
true whether we consider older dilemmas such as
sewage, or higher contemporary issues such as for instance pesti-
cides, hefty metals, along with other toxic chemical compounds.
Given the populace explosion in developing
countries and their projected sixfold escalation in eco-
nomic output (to significantly more than $2 trillion annually) be-
tween 1965 and 1985 (World Bank 1987), it's hardly
surprising that air pollution is a growing issue. India
is a good example. Around 70 % of its to-
tal surface waters are polluted. Of India's 3,119
towns and towns and cities, just 217 have actually even partial sewage-
treatment facilities. A 48-kilometer stretch associated with Ya-
muna River, which flows through New Delhi, con-
tains 7,500 coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters of
water before entering the capital, but after receiving
an estimated 50 million gallons of untreated sewage
every day, it makes New Delhi carrying an amazing SPRAYING INSECTICIDE
| i mi nun i i i nun
Figure 5. This airplane is spraying insecticide above a Texas cotton
field. Billions of gallons of pesticide solutions are used annual to U. S.
crops, rangeland, and woodlands, [photo: ©Fred Ward]
• llllllllMIIIIIIIMIIIIIIMIIIIIIIIIIMIIIIIIMIIIIIIEIMIinilllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllinilllllMllllllilllllllMII
Figure 6. About 400 businesses dumped some 50,000 drums of
chemical waste—including cyanide, arsenic, P.C.B.s, toxic metals, sol-
vents, naphthalene, and explosives—at a 13-acre disposal site near Sey-
mour, Indiana, [photo: ©Fred Ward]
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 267
Speth- Pollution
ii ii iiiiin i iiiiiii i ii IIIIIIII 11 IIIIII ii IIIIII ii 11 iiiiii 11 IIIIII 11 r iMiiiiiiii iif iiiu i f iiiiii ii iiMiiiiiiiiiiii 11 IIIIM ii t IIIII 11 iiiiiiii IIIIIII 111 IIIIIII 11 IIIIIII t iiiiii ii ill IIIIII i IIIIIIIII f IIIIIII ii M IIIIII IIIIIIIIII i^
o 600
500 Cauca (COLOMBIA)
h Mahi (INDIA)
v5 §300
»3 « 45
u i
it CO 30 f- Paraiba do Sul
O Teio
*- 15 — (PORTUGAL) Espierre (BELGIUM)
Huang He (CHINA)
Danube (HUNGARY) Rhine Kiso
(CANADA) Rio Grande
0 $2,000 $4,000 $6,000 $8,000 $10,000 $12,000 $14,000 $16,000
1983 GNP per Capita ($U.S.)
• IIIIII 11 i • • 111111 i i nun II II 11111111 i i mi i imiiiiiiiimiiiim immiiiiimiiiiiiiiiniii HIM
Figure 7. River air pollution, calculated by fecal coliform germs content, for a sample worldwide's streams is
charted against earnings per capita the nations in which these streams happen. Streams are increasingly being polluted both in indus-
trial and developing nations, but the streams many seriously polluted by bacterial infections (mostly urban sew-
age) are in developing nations, [source: U.N. Environment Programme. 1986. Worldwide Environmental Monitoring
System, unpublished, November]
24 million coliform organisms per 100 milliliters. That
same stretch regarding the Yamuna River picks up 5 million
gallons of commercial effluents, including about
125,000 gallons of «D.D.T. wastes,» every day
(W.R.I. & I.I.E.D. 1986) (Figure 7). The four-year
drought in Asia, which reached crisis proportions in
1987, has forced larger portions of populace to
consume unsafe water, and, as of late 1987, more
than 1,700 people had died and 684,000 were sick from
severe diarrhoea as well as other waterborne conditions (New
York Times December 6, 1987).
Data through the U.N.'s worldwide Environmental
Monitoring System (G.E.M.S.) indicate that, by and
large, metropolitan areas in Eastern European countries and also the Third World
are consistently more polluted with sulfur dioxide
and particulates than most ( not all) of cities in
O.E.C.D. nations (W.R.I. & I.I.E.D. 1986). A recent
G.E.M.S. study unearthed that towns utilizing the highest
concentrations of suspended particulates often be
in the developing countries, which polluting of the environment in
developing areas is often worsening rather
than improving (Figures 8 & 9). For Asian countries
on which data can be obtained, sulfur dioxide levels appear to have increased about 10 percent per year be-
tween 1973 and 1984 (la Times February 26,
1987, U.N.E.P. & W.H.O. 1987) (Figure 10).
Another indicator of the growing pollution
potential inside developing nations could be the quick ex-
pansion of this chemical industry in these countries
(Figure 11). Likewise, pesticide use within developing
countries is accelerating rapidly: one present study
concluded that developing nations are consuming
about 45 percent of all insecticides and about 10 per
cent of all fungicides and herbicides (Christian Science
Monitor June 11, 1987, l . a . occasions October 18,
1987, U.N.E.P. 1987a).
Third World populations now rank high in
their experience of toxic chemical substances. In an example of 10
industrial and developing nations, three regarding the four
countries utilizing the greatest blood lead levels of their
populations were Mexico, India, and Peru; for the
same 10 nations, D.D.T. contamination of human
milk had been greatest in China, India, and Mexico. In an-
other contrast of nutritional consumption of cadmium,
lead, and aldrin-dieldrin, Guatemala (the only de-
veloping nation within the test) rated at or near the
268 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
WeI 111 111II11111 III IIIII1111 III] 111II III ] 1111 f|] II |] 11IIII 111 IIIII III 111| We III || 111 tllll 1111 till 111111II IIWe]] 1111| III 11111 III 11111 ill |i || 111| M1111 IIII ill || 111 Mill 11 [ | IM11111111| MM 11111| III 1111| Ml 1111 ^
• MniEMiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiniHiMinHiniiiiniuiiiniHiMiiiiMiiiiiiiiiiiMiniMMiiiiniiiiMniiiiiiiiinuiiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiHiiittiiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiitiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiiiMiiiiiiMiiliiiiiiiHiiiiiiliiiiiiiiilllliiiii
Figure 8. An obvious winter time in September 1985 when winds beaten up the town's vast bowl-shaped valley. Perhaps the peaks of the
nearby volcanoes are visible. Figure 9. A haze of air pollution chokes Mexico City on a winter morning in 1986. Car exhaust, factory
smoke, and smoldering refuse heaps befoul the air inhaled by 17 million individuals. Breathing this atmosphere is weighed against smoking
two packages of cigarettes each day. [photos: ©Guillermo Aldana Espinosa]
top for every of the three (U.N.E.P. & W.H.O. 1987).
Exactly What could be the worst industrial accident in
history occurred in Bhopal, India, in 1984, when
more than 2,000 individuals were killed. The accident oc-
curred when a chemical used in the manufacture of
pesticides, methyl isocyanate (M.I.C.), escaped and
drifted into crowded, low-income settlements that
adjoin the Union Carbide center.
From Local Results to
Global Effects
When the volumes of pollution were much
smaller plus the toxins had been just like natural
substances, effects tended become restricted to limited
geographic areas nearby the sources. Certainly, as late as
1970 national smog legislation into the United
States treated air pollution mainly as an area phenom-
enon. Today, the scale and intensity of pollution
make its effects certainly global. For the first time,
«human effects have become to approximate those
of the normal procedures that control the international life-
support system» (Malone & Roederer 1985, p. xiv).
Nothing better illustrates this broadening per-
spective of pollution from a local affair to a worldwide one than the development of concern about smog.
(Pollution of the world's oceans can also be a critical issue
demanding concerted reactions [company Week
1987a, I.I.E.D. & W.R.I. 1987].) In a 1984 essay, atmo-
spheric scientist John Firor (1984, MacDonald 1985)
referred to the «endangered species associated with atmo-
sphere.» Firor's metaphor is apt. Regional air pollution
is improving in a few cities, however it is worsening in oth-
ers and is hardly solved anywhere. Meanwhile,
overall global usage of fossil fuels, and emissions of tra-
ditional toxins such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides
that result from it, still rise. Acid rain,
ozone, and other consequences among these pollutants
are impacting plant and animal life over vast areas of
the world. Depletion of the stratosphere's ozone lay-
er is a matter of these concern that an international
treaty has been negotiated to sharply reduce emis-
sions of chlorofluorocarbons (C.F.C.s). And, proba-
bly most severe of all, the accumulation of greenhouse
gases within the atmosphere—largely a result of
the use of fossil fuels and C.F.C.s and different agri-
cultural activities—continues, threatening societies
with far-reaching climatic modifications, ocean degree rise, and
other effects. These interrelated atmospheric
issues probably constitute probably the most serious pollution
threat ever sold; they deserve our special attention.
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 269
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• 111II11111111111111M1111111111111111111111111 M111111111IIIII1111111111111II111 f M1111111111111111111111II1111111111111111 M 111II1111111111111 MIM111111111111II1111111 f 1111111 M 111111 f E11111111111111111111111
Figure 10. Sulfur dioxide pollution is a critical problem for rich and poor alike. Right here sulfur dioxide pollution
of globe urban centers is plotted up against the per capita income quantities of the countries in which those cities are found. Third
World towns and cities are prominent those types of that substantially exceed World wellness Organization quality of air instructions,
[source: U. N. Environment Programme. 1987. Ecological Data Report. Basil, Blackwell, pp. 14-15]
Acid Rain and Regional Air Pollution
The view of polluting of the environment as primarily an urban
problem was challenged by acid rainfall and other
regional or transboundary polluting of the environment (I.I.E.D. &
W.R.I. 1987, W.R.I. & I.I.E.D. 1986). The atmo-
sphere transports numerous atmosphere toxins hundreds of
miles before going back them toward Earth's area.
During this long-distance transport, the atmosphere
acts as a complex chemical reactor, changing the
pollutants because they interact with other substances,
moisture, and solar power. Underneath the right condi-
tions, emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen ox-
ides from fossil gas combustion are transformed
chemically within the environment into sulfuric and nitric
acids. Other pollutants, particularly carbon monoxide
and volatile natural substances, subscribe to the re-
actions which make these strong acids.
Acid deposition is a major problem in Europe
and North America, and it is growing as a signifi-
cant issue in areas of Asia and Latin America. Many
adverse ecological impacts happen attributed
to acid rainfall, including damage to buildings and ex-
posed metals. But recent attention has focused on damage to the natural environment, especially the
acidification of lakes and streams. Thousands of
lakes have «gone acid» and, in place, died as a result
of extensive acid deposition in north Europe
and North America. In Sweden alone, 21,000 lakes
have experienced about some acidification as have
some 60,000 miles of channels. In the United States, a
recent federal government survey found that about 10 per
cent of lakes in the Adirondack area and the
Upper Peninsula of Michigan had been acidic (below pH
5) and about 5 % of the lakes in other sensitive
regions had been acidic. Sobering as these figures are,
some scientists have actually argued that utilization of pH 5 to de-
fine acidic surface waters grossly minimizes the
problem (age.g., Likens 1987, Science 1987).
Moreover, the dimensions of this problem have
changed significantly before couple of years. Al-
though acid deposition remains viewed as the main at-
mospheric agent damaging aquatic ecosystems,
many other atmosphere pollutants are most likely important in
agricultural crop harm as well as in the extensive for-
est decreases of Europe and united states observed
over days gone by years. Also, the geographic area
now perceived as threatened by acid rain and the
270 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
111 • 111111111111111111 f 11111111111111 r 1111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 i 111111111111111111111111M111111111111111111111111111111111111111 f • 11111 • 1111111111111111111111111111111 • F • • 1111 • i • 11111111
<<br />? 10 -
1980 — 84 1985
Year. j Industrialized
[Tm Developing
?• 1": :ik
• nilllllllllliMIIIIIIIMinillllllllllllllllllllEIIMIIIMIIllllllllllinitlllllllllllinillflllllllllllfllllllllllMllllllllllllllllllllllllillilllllMllllllMllllllllfllllinilMllllllMlllllllllMIIIKIIIII
Figure 11. Chemical production grew about doubly fast in developing countries as it did in industrial
countries during 1970-1984. [source: U. N. Industrial Development Organisation. 1986. Industry and Development,
Global Report, 1986. Vienna]
other airborne toxins has expanded far beyond
Scandinavia, main European countries, and eastern North
America. It now encompasses nearly the complete of
Europe (such as the European part of the Soviet
Union), areas of the western usa and Cana-
da, plus some industrialized aspects of the next
World, including Asia, Brazil, and Nigeria.
The harmful ramifications of ozone and sulfur dioxide
on plants and vegetation are known for a long time,
but more attention happens to be being provided to the econom-
ic effects of crop losings due to air pollu-
tion. The U. S. nationwide Crop Loss Assessment Net-
work thinks that ground-level ozone harm to
U. S. plants amounts to $1 billion to $5 billion a year. A
25 per cent upsurge in ambient ozone concentrations
throughout the united states would cost society an es-
timated $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion per year in lost pro-
duction (in 1980 dollars).
As associated with end of 1985, at least 7 million hectares
of forestlands in 15 countries in europe was af-
fected by Waldsterben (forest death). The huge for-
est decrease seen in the Federal Republic of Ger-
many over the past six years seems to be leveling
off—at minimum regarding its geographical distribution—
but Waldsterben (Figure 12) is increasing in level and extent in Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia,
Poland, the German Democratic Republic, France, It-
aly, Yugoslavia, and Sweden. North America's high-
er-elevation, eastern coniferous woodlands have actually experi-
enced a rapid and severe decrease lately. The
damage starred in the Appalachian Mountains
from Georgia to New England, and it has become in-
creasingly serious and noticeable. A six-state research of
the southern Appalachian region recently revealed
that eastern white pine is experiencing pollution-
related declines in 23 percent associated with stands surveyed.
Pollution-related decline was most pronounced in
Kentucky, where 77 % of all the white pine sur-
veyed showed polluting of the environment damage. The main pol-
lutant proven to harm white pine is ozone, along
with other photochemical oxidants.
In New york, the spruce-fir forest atop
Mount Mitchell is undergoing rapid defoliation and
decline. High levels of ozone, acidity, and even
heavy metals were detected, transported long
distances in environment. Although the precise cause-
and-effect relationships stay unclear, the evi-
dence is strong that chemical pollutants are impor-
tant into the extensive woodland destruction in European countries,
now attacking the woodlands of North America.
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 271
11111111111 i 111111 M11111 f 1111111111111J111111111111111111111 M 1111111J111111111111M1111111111111 j 1111111111111111111111 [ 1111111111111111 i i 1111111M111111 M111111111111111111 i 11J1111 [ 1111111 f 11111 i 11111111111111111111111 i we • 111111 i 11111
Figure 12. Dead trees at the summit of Mt. Mitchell, in the Smokies
of new york, July 1985. Polluting of the environment is known to be an important
contributor to forest decrease, [photo: ©John M. Burnley]
Chlorofluorocarbons and
the Ozone Layer
Ozone (O3), a variant of air, is present
throughout the atmosphere but focused in a
belt round the world in the stratosphere (I.I.E.D. &
W.R.I. 1987). Although ozone inside troposphere
(nearest the planet earth's surface) adversely impacts human
health and plant life, it's an invaluable component of the
upper environment, in which it acts as a filter, absorbing
harmful wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation (U.V.).
Without this radiation shield, more U.V. radiation
would reach the surface of the Earth, and would
damage plant and animal life and greatly increase the
risk of epidermis cancers and eye illness.
In 1974, two University of Ca researchers,
Mario Molina and F. S. Rowland, postulated that the
widespread usage of C.F.C.s—highly stable com-
pounds found in aerosol propellants, refrigeration,
foam-blowing, and commercial solvents—could dam-
age the ozone shield. They hypothesized that C.F.C.
gases could add chlorine towards the stratosphere and,
through complex chemical reactions, reduce the
amount of stratospheric ozone, enabling more harm-
ful U.V. radiation to attain our planet's area.
This theory profoundly affected both the
C.F.C. industry and national governments. The
United States, Canada, and Sweden first banned in-
essential uses of C.F.C. propellants, and several oth-
er Nordic countries followed suit. Consequently, globe manufacturing of this two major chlorofluorocarbons —
C.F.C.-11 and C.F.C.-12—decreased into the late
1970s. Reflecting these developments, global emis-
sions of C.F.C.-11 and C.F.C.-12 peaked within the early
1970s. Although they declined during the late 1970s,
they started climbing again into the very early 1980s, renew-
ing worldwide concern (Figures 3 & 13).
Sophisticated atmospheric models relate emis-
sions of C.F.C.s and other pollutants to long-term
damage towards world's ozone layer. Increasing C.F.C.
production at 1.5 percent per year for 40 years, for ex-
ample, would cause above a 20 percent re-
duction (at an altitude of 40 kilometers) inside ozone
shield and much bigger increases in incoming U.V.
radiation (U.N.E.P. 1987b).
In 1985, when Uk boffins reported a dra-
matic seasonal thinning associated with ozone shield over Ant-
arctica—the now famous «hole» inside ozone layer
(Figure 14)—the debate switched into high gear. The
hole has become approximately the size of the continental Unit-
ed States, therefore is apparently growing bigger every
year. Inside gap, Antarctic springtime ozone levels
have reduced by about 50 % considering that the mid-
1970s. Present proof suggests that C.F.C. s bear ul-
timate duty the ozone gap, although the
stratospheric ice clouds throughout the polar area facili-
tate the chemical response that ruins the ozone
(Molina et al. 1987, Zurer 1987).
The reaction to the ozone-depletion problem
has been a precedent-setting and intensely impor-
tant worldwide agreement, the 1985 Convention
for the Protection of Ozone Layer. The very first major
step toward implementing this meeting occurred
with the 1987 adoption associated with Montreal Protocol, in
which officials from 23 nations agreed to a 50 per
cent rollback in C.F.C. use by 1999. In light of the
ozone opening along with other outcomes, the debate will now
surely shift to whether or not the Montreal Protocol im-
poses sufficient limitations on C.F.C.-11 and C.F.C.-
12 and on other ozone-destroying pollutants.
The Greenhouse Effect and
Global Climate Change
For the past many years, the worldwide sci-
entific community is issuing uncommon warn-
ings (Mintzer 1987). Earth's environment, the climate that
has sustained life throughout history, it states, is now
seriously threatened by atmospheric pollution.
Perhaps the most notable warning arrived in Oc-
tober 1985, at a conference sponsored by the Interna-
tional Council of Scientific Unions (I.C.S.U.), the
World Meteorological Organization (W.M.O.), and
the U. N. Environment Programme (U.N.E.P.), in
Villach, Austria. «As due to the increasing con-
272 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
II Ill Ill I I III MM we I I we we Mill IMI IMIMI we we I we I
centrations of carbon dioxide,» the conference
statement began, «it happens to be believed that in the first
half associated with the next century, a rise of global mean tem-
perature could occur that will be more than any in
Man's history» (U.N.E.P. et al. 1985).
Through such tasks as burning fossil fuels,
leveling forests, and producing specific synthetic
chemicals, individuals are releasing large amounts of
«greenhouse» gases to the environment. These gas-
es absorb Earth's infrared radiation and give a wide berth to it
from escaping into area. This technique traps heat
close to the surface and raises worldwide temperatures.
Excess skin tightening and (CO2) is the primary offend-
er. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the concentra-
tion of CO2 in environment ended up being about 280 parts
per million. Only at that concentration, CO2 (and water
vapor) warmed Earth's area by about 33° Celsius
and made world habitable. But, subsequently, especially
since 1900 or more, the accelerating use of fossil fuels
and vegetation loss over big regions of the planet
have caused CO2 into the atmosphere to boost by
about 25 %, to 348 parts per million.
But CO2 accumulation just isn't the only problem. Much
of the newest urgency towards greenhouse effect
stems from understanding that other gases released
through peoples activity—including C.F.C.s, meth-
ane, nitrous oxide, and ozone—now contribute
about as much towards greenhouse impact as CO2 does
(numbers 3, 13, & 15).
According to one estimate, past emissions of
greenhouse gases have previously committed Earth to
an normal warming of 1° to 2.5° Celsius over that of
the pre-industrial age (Ramanathan 1987), though
only a fraction with this warming was believed to date
because regarding the inertia associated with oceans. A few models
project that when present styles in greenhouse gas build-
up continue, individual task may have committed
Earth to a warming of 1.5° to 4.5° Celsius by around
2030, top of the end being the greater amount of probable.
To find conditions like those projected for the
middle of next century, we should return back millions of
years. In the event that greenhouse effect actually is as great
as predicted by today's weather models, of course cur-
rent emission trends continue, our world will soon
differ radically from anything in human experience.
Although the local effects of a global warming
are uncertain and difficult to anticipate, many of the an-
ticipated changes are both far-reaching and disturb-
ing. Rain and soil dampness patterns could shift
dramatically, upsetting agricultural tasks world-
wide. Water level could rise from 1 to 4 feet, flooding
coasts and permitting sodium water to intrude into water
supplies. Ocean currents could shift, altering the cli-
mate of many areas and disrupting fisheries. The
ranges of plant and animal types could alter re- 200
1977 1979 1981 1983
• Mill we we I II H II I ' "
Figure 13. The info indicate that atmospheric levels of
C.F.C.-ll and C.F.C-12 increased above 85 % between 1975 and
1985. [source: Rasmussen, R. & Khalil, M. 1986. Atmospheric trace gases:
trends and distrubutions during the last decade. Science June 27:1623-1624]
gionally, endangering protected areas also spe-
cies whose habitats are actually few and confined. Re-
cord temperature waves along with other climate anomalies could
harm prone people, crops, and forests.
In this context, it isn't astonishing that the sci-
entists at Villach took the crucial action of urging
that the greenhouse issue be moved into the policy
arena. «Understanding of the greenhouse question
is sufficiently developed,» they concluded, «that sci-
entists and policymakers should begin an energetic col-
laboration to explore the effectiveness of alternative
policies and adjustments» (U.N.E.P. et al. 1985).
With the accumulation of carbon dioxide proceed-
ing apace, a planetary experiment is under method. Be-
fore the outcome are fully understood, future generations
may have already been irrevocably dedicated to an altered
world—one that may be better in certain respects but
that additionally involves really unprecedented risks.
In light of the threats, two forms of action
seem justified: adaptive measures to organize for
Earth '88: Changing Geographic views 273
• • • > 11111111111111111111J111111111111111111 1111111111111111111111111111111111111 f 11111111 E (111111111 ] 111111 j 11111111111111111111111111 ] 111111111111111111111111 s ] 111 j 11111111111111 ] 111111111111111111111111111 ] i 111111111111111111111111 [ 111
letteri n in i n i i i i iiiiiini i
Figure 14. Ozone inside upper environment protects life on Earth by
filtering the sun's rays's ultraviolet radiation. During the past nine years this
protective layer is now thinner each springtime over the South Pole. The
«hole,» shown whilst the purple area regarding map, has deepened as ozone con-
centrations have dropped by 40 percent, [source: nationwide Aeronautics and
Space Administration/Goddard Space Flight Center]
aparently inescapable climate modifications, and, more im-
portant, preventive measures to forestall changes
that societies can still influence. Control of «green-
house»-producing fuel releases can both buy time
and, ultimately, keep Earth's environment as closely
as possible to that for the previous several thousand years.
Given what exactly is now known, major national and
international initiatives—grounded inside best avail-
able technology and policy analysis—should become a
top priority of governments and citizens. A deeper
appreciation associated with dangers of «greenhouse»-producmg
gas accumulation should distribute to leaders of government
and business also to most people, spending the
greenhouse problem with a sense of urgency missing to-
day. If countries are to be spared a Hobson's option be-
tween power shortages and climate change, we
must become committed to energy effectiveness, to so-
lar as well as other brand new and renewable power sources
(commercial leads for new solar technologies,
particularly photovoltaic solar cells, appear increas-
ingly promising), also to economic incentives and
other steps that discourage the use of high-car- bon fuels. Additional actions also needs to be taken to
halt deforestation now under means in the tropics and
to regulate C.F.C.s as well as other greenhouse gases.
The years immediately ahead should be a peri-
od of intense clinical research, policy research,
and adoption of appropriate measures. Innovative
international responses must certanly be discussed. Global
and local power futures ought to be explored and
we should particularly emphasize their effects on the
greenhouse issue. Preventive and adaptive strat-
egies appropriate towards planet's regions should be
mapped and means discovered to construct U. S.-Soviet coop-
eration on this problem as these two countries together
have most of the planet's coal reserves. (For discus-
sions on the greenhouse effect and weather change,
see: Mathews 1987, Mintzer 1987, U.N.E.P. 1987c.)
Progress in United
States: could be the Pollution
Battle Being Won?
G111111 • H 111111111111M H H 11111111111111111111111111M 111111 HI 1111 i II111111111111111111111111111
It happens to be a decade . 5 considering that the United
States and lots of other commercial countries spotlight-
ed «traditional» toxins and initiated major, ex-
pensive cleaning programs. Are these programs
achieving their objectives? When we examine the avail-
able information, the pattern that emerges is one of
some success, some backsliding, and much «holding
our own.» Judged by the objectives associated with Federal Clean
Air Act of 1970 as well as the Federal liquid Pollution Con-
trol Act of 1972, progress has been disappointingly
slow. Additionally, against the gains must certanly be weighed
«newer» dilemmas particularly hazardous waste sites
and groundwater air pollution (in which correctional ef-
forts have actually just started) and continuing outpour-
ing of toxic chemical compounds old and new.
On the positive part, the emergence of environ-
mental concern in 1960s and the cleaning pro-
grams that used within the 1970s have actually resulted in im-
pressive air pollution abatement efforts. The United
States invested about $739 billion (1982 dollars) on pol-
lution control between 1972 and 1984, with about 42
per cent of the going to clean the air, 42 per cent to
water cleanup, therefore the rest mainly to solid waste.
Private business invested about two thirds of this
amount; federal government and individuals take into account the
rest (Conservation Foundation 1987).
Many corporations in manufacturing and else-
where are making serious and responsible efforts to
achieve and sometimes to go beyond pollution control re-
quirements. In the process, they've brought
274 world '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
iiiiMiiiiiifMiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiMiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiiiiiniiiiiMiiiiiitMiiiiiiiiiiiniiiiiniiiiiiMiiiiii iiiiMiiiiiiiHiEiiiiiiimiiiiiMiiiiiiiiimiiiii Speth—Pollution
about major technological improvements in pollution
abatement, and a pollution control industry in the
United States that created approximately 167,000 jobs
in 1985 (Management Information Services 1986). A
majority of dischargers has arrived into compliance
with their release permits along with other requirements
without the necessity for legal enforcement actions, but
in many, many cases polluters were recalci-
trant, fighting every action for the means. Enforcement
actions by state and federal authorities are common-
place. Annually E.P. A. problems several thousand adminis-
trative enforcement purchases, and hundreds of law-
suits against polluters are known the Justice
Department for civil or criminal action.
What will be the link between all this task? On wa-
ter air pollution, the outcome were mixed. Dis-
charges of certain key pollutants have now been substan-
tially paid off; like, oxygen-demanding
waste from industry and municipal sewage systems
declined 71 % and 46 percent, respectively, be-
tween 1972 and 1982 (Smith et al. 1987). The product quality of
many crucial waterways, like the Potomac,
has improved greatly. If we examine the national pic-
ture in general, but progress doesn't seem
terribly impressive. A recent preservation Founda-
tion (1987, p. 87) overview figured «in most
cases a bit more is done than to avoid fur-
ther degradation.» About two thirds of U. S. surface
waters showed little general change in water quality
between 1972 and 1982. One essential measure of
water quality may be the dissolved air content of the
water (Figure 16). Between 1974 and 1981,17 per cent
of U. S. monitoring web sites reported improved oxygen
levels, while 16 % reported deteriorating
trends, additionally the remaining 72 per cent showed no sig-
nificant modification. Overall improvement had been reported
for microbial and lead contamination, but nitrate,
chloride, arsenic, and cadmium air pollution increased
significantly (Conservation Foundation 1987, Smith
et al. 1987). However, a more current E.P.A. study
found that a fourth of U. S. lakes, streams, and estuar-
ies stay too polluted for fishing and swimming
{Washington Post November 11, 1987). One problem
is that to date runoff as well as other «non-point» sources
of air pollution have actually escaped strict control. The dispari-
ty between big load restrictions in oxygen-de-
manding product from point sources, therefore the limit-
ed dissolved air improvements are due to
non-point source efforts and also to the positioning of
monitoring sites, among other facets.
It can be done to be more positive about atmosphere pollu-
tion. Between 1975 and 1984, U. S. emissions of par-
ticulates fell 33 percent, sulfur dioxide 16 %,
and carbon monoxide 14 percent. (The exclusion is
nitrogen oxides, which revealed small modification be- jin,
• llllllllllllllllllllllllMiiiiiillllllllliEiiiiiiulnilllllMMlllllliiliiiiiiiniiiiiifilllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllll
Figure 15. A lot of the latest urgency in regards to the greenhouse effect
stems from the realization that other gases than CO2 released through hu-
man task contribute about as much towards the greenhouse effect as CO2
does. Methane (CH4) is another crucial one. [source: CO2 data—Neftel
et al. 1985. Evidence from polar ice cores the boost in atmospheric
CO2 before two centuries. Nature might 2:45; methane data—Stauffer,
B. et al. 1985. Enhance of atmospheric methane recorded in Antarctic ice
core. Technology 229:1386]
tween 1975 and 1984.) Due to these gains, ur-
ban air quality in the us, in general, has
improved notably (E.P.A. 1986).
These gains, while real enough, are modest
when viewed contrary to the environmental cleanup
goals of the early 1970s. In most air pollutant catego-
ry save one (particulates), total U.S. emissions today
still exceed two thirds of the 1970 quantities. The bulk
of the air pollution that gave increase to the Clean Air Act of
1970 continues. For instance, total emissions of vola-
tile natural substances, an integral ingredient of urban
smog and its particular major component, ozone, were still
22 million metric tons in 1984, or 80 percent of 1970
emissions (Conservation Foundation 1987). Many
U. S. counties (and portions of counties) still fail to
meet clean air requirements. In 1985, 368 areas had been not
in conformity aided by the ozone standard (80 million
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 275
• iiiiiiiiniiiiMiiiiiiMHMiiiHiHiiimfimiiiMMiiiMiiiMiiiiiiiMiiiiiMiiiimiiiniiiiiiiiMiiiimiimiiiiiiimiiiiimH
Figure 16. Several thousand dead carp north of Chicago, 1969. Federal
investigators found oxygen-consuming organic wastes and dangerous
amounts of arsenic, zinc, copper, lead, and nickel in Skokie Lagoons north
of Chicago. Carp need less air than game seafood; the game fish had long
since disappeared, [photo: ©Joseph Sterling]
people reside in these noncomplying counties: 290 in
noncompliance with particulate criteria; 142 in non-
compliance with carbon monoxide standards [Conser-
vation Foundation 1987]). Simply speaking, th£n, polluting of the environment,
like water pollution, continues to be a critical problem on a
national scale.
These modest gains in managing «traditional»
air and water toxins look better whenever compared
with just what might have been. Between 1970 and 1985
U. S. G.N.P. grew by about 50 % in genuine terms,
and populace grew besides. Far from maintaining pace
with this growth, air pollution actually declined. Over- all, the U. S. economy today yields much less
pollution per dollar of G.N.P. than it did two decades
ago. As an example, between 1975 and 1985 U. S. elec-
trical resources paid down sulfur dioxide emissions from
coal burning by 44 percent per device of electricity gen-
erated, and spent some $62 billion on sulfur dioxide
controls in those times (National Acid Precipita-
tion Assessment Program 1987).
Environmental protection measures have had
dramatic results in a few areas. Lead emissions
have taken a steep downturn as a consequence of federal
regulations; these requirements triggered a 78 per
cent reduction of lead used in gasoline between 1970
and 1985 (Figure 17). Environmental releases of poly-
chlorinated biphenyls (P.C.B.s) have dropped
sharply as a result of a congressional ban on their
manufacture, one of the conditions of the Toxic Sub-
stances Control Act of 1976 (Figure 4). Beginning
with the bans on D.D.T. in 1972 and aldrin-dieldrin
in 1974, E.P.A. has prohibited most uses of persis-
tent organochloride pesticides. As a result of these
decisive efforts, the clear presence of these toxic sub-
stances within the environment has enhanced impres-
sively. Between 1976 and 1980, bloodstream lead amounts in
the usa declined sharply, while D.D.T.
concentrations in individual tissue are only a fourth of
what they certainly were in 1972. The proportion of the U.S.
population with P. C.B. amounts above one part per mil-
lion declined from about 70 per cent to about 10 per
cent between 1972 and 1983 (Figures 18 & 19).
The existence of lead, D.D.T., P.C.B.s, and sev-
eral other toxic substances happens to be greatly reduced
because society has seen fit really to outlaw these
substances and not simply to control their launch. In-
dustry is required to innovate technologically
and to find substitute products—for example, new
means of providing high-octane gasoline—and not
merely to utilize pollution control devices. There is a les-
son here.
Paths towards the Future
As we face the long run, it really is worth recalling what
antipollution efforts are up against. The current report
of the World Commission on Environment and De-
velopment (W.C.E.D.), Our Common Future, stated
the situation as follows:
The planet is passing through a time period of dramatic
growth and fundamental change. Our human world
of 5 billion must make enough space in a finite environment
for another human being world. The population could sta-
bilize at between 8 billion and 14 billion sometime
next century, in accordance with U.N. projections. More
276 Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
iiiiiimiiiiiiiiMmimiiiiimiiiiniiiiiMMiiiiiiiiiiimimmmiiiiiiiiiimiiiiiiiiiiiiimimimimiiiiimmiiimiiiimimiiiiii immimiiiimiiiiiiiiiiimi FIIII1IIIIIIIIIIIIIMIII1IIIIIII1III
than 90 percent associated with the increase will occur in the poor-
est countries, and 90 % of that growth in al-
ready bursting cities.
Economic task has increased generate a $13
trillion globe economy, and this could grow five- or
tenfold into the coming half-century. Industrial pro-
duction is continuing to grow a lot more than fiftyfold throughout the past
century, four fifths with this development since 1950. Such
figures mirror and presage profound impacts upon
the biosphere while the world invests in homes, trans-
port, farms, and companies.
(W.C.E.D. 1987, p. 4)
These challenges will require far-reaching re-
sponses. Definitely, an important part of future ef-
forts to regulate pollutants should be to carry on and
strengthen the efforts already begun. The regulatory
programs associated with the commercial countries have yielded
definite outcomes during the last 2 decades, particular-
ly when judged contrary to the financial expansion of
this period, and continuing challenges will require
that these programs be improved and enhanced.
Monitoring and enforcement abilities must be
strengthened; brand new types and sources of pollution
must be tackled; inter-media results must certanly be attend-
ed to; regional and worldwide ways to pollution
control must be increasingly typical; and the
overall regulatory procedure must be more cost-
effective, efficient, and streamlined as demands
mount on both sides of this bargaining dining table.
The dependence on developing countries to manage their
escalating air pollution issues is also acute. These
countries can study from the successes and fail-
ures associated with industrial countries—from the various
regulatory approaches, the air pollution control tech-
nologies, the research on wellness impacts and other
topics. They need to also note the difficult financial les-
sons the commercial nations have learned, including
the large financial great things about controlling pollution
and the fact it's typically cheaper to avoid pol-
lution than to clean it up.
Yet, it is certain that more of the same, even if
better, will never be sufficient to cope with the pollution
challenges identified by the planet Commission.
More fundamental modifications are required. If global
economic task does enhance five- to tenfold over
the next half-century, due to the fact commission implies,
the reason behind preserving our planetary environment
seems lost if this vast development just duplicates over
and over today's current technologies. Such eco-
nomic growth could be properly accommodated only if ac-
companied by a thoroughgoing transformation in
the technologies of production, broadly conceived.
From its origins in early 1970s, U. S. air- and
water-pollution control legislation has recognized men
10 -
IT" 197R 1<)7y I'WO<br />Year 19B2 19H.I 1984 1985
• i ii IIIIIIII inn mi n i i nil mm i
Figure 17. Lead emissions have taken a steep downturn as a result
of federal laws, which resulted in a 78 percent reduced total of lead
used in gas between 1970 and 1985. [source: Environmental Protec-
tion Agency. 1987. Nationwide Air Pollutant Emission Estimates, 1940-1985]
that tighter standards could be applied to «new
sources» of air pollution, as opposed to current plants.
This is because brand new sources present the opportunity
to go beyond «end of pipe» removal of waste prod-
ucts also to build in «process changes» that reduce or
eliminate the wastes that have to otherwise be re-
moved. The essential concept— supply decrease instead
of emissions control—writ big, is fundamental to
solving globe air pollution dilemmas. Eventually,
the just affordable and effective option to control pol-
lution of scale and type communities confront today is
to work «upstream» to alter the products, technol-
ogies, policies, and pressures that create waste
and bring about pollution.
To implement this requirement, and also to deal
with the air pollution challenge within the decades ahead,
several large-scale social and technical transi-
tions are needed. The pollution today's societies con-
front is a large, multifaceted trend that cuts
across financial sectors and areas. Everywhere it
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 277
Q 1
1970 1975 1980 -10
Figure 18. Between 1976 and 1980, bloodstream lead levels in United
States declined sharply, while D.D.T. concentrations in peoples tissue are
only a fourth of whatever they had been in 1972. [source: lead data—Council on En-
vironmental Quality. 1986. Environmental Quality 1984, p. 75; pesticide
and P.C.B. data—Environmental Protection Agency. 1987. National Hu-
man Adipose Tissue Survey, unpublished]
is integrally pertaining to economic production, modern
technology, lifestyle, how big human and animal
populations, and a host of other factors. Pollution is
unlikely to yield except to broad macrotransitions of
multiple social benefits. The important thing questions for policy-
makers include: Are these transformations under
way? In that case, just how can societies speed them along? If
not, just how can they be launched without delay?
change 1
Transition 1 could be the shift from the age of
fossil fuels toward a period of power efficiency and re-
newable energy. The extraction, transportation, and, par-
ticularly, the combustion of fossil fuels create a huge
portion worldwide's environmental air pollution and
many of air pollution's most distressing consequences. Local air pollution problems (for example, smog), re-
gional polluting of the environment issues (like, acid
rain), and global smog problems (for instance,
climate change) are connected both through complex
chemical responses inside environment and through
the common beginning of most of toxins in-
volved: the combustion of fossil fuels.
Fortunately, power analysts are increasingly
confident that the technologies and policy tools are at
hand to boost energy effectiveness greatly and to
sharply curtail projected increases in fossil gas use—
if communities can muster the will to make use of them, and also to do
so without undermining financial development. One re-
cent global energy analysis, developed from careful
studies of energy use in the usa, Sweden,
Asia, and Brazil, concluded «that the worldwide popula-
tion could approximately twice, that residing standards
could be enhanced far beyond satisfying fundamental needs
in developing countries, and that financial growth
in industrialized countries could carry on, without
increasing the degree of worldwide energy use within 2020
much over the present level» (Goldemberg et al.
1987, p. 12; see additionally Brown et al. 1985, Mintzer 1987,
W.R.I. & I.I.E.D. 1986). Inside theoretically and eco-
nomically feasible future, total energy use goes up
only 10 percent between 1980 and 2020 and fossil
fuel use grows also less.
These dramatic and hopeful projections are
made feasible by the quick introduction of currently
available, energy-efficient technologies in transpor-
tation, industry, buildings, and other areas. Recent
experience has demonstrated that major improve-
ments in the efficiency with which power can be used are
possible. Between 1973 and 1985, per capita energy
use in the us fell 12 per cent even though the per
capita gross domestic item rose 17 per cent. The
average gas economy of new cars and light-duty
trucks increased 66 % between 1975 and 1985
(Goldemberg etal. 1987). For the O.E.C.D. countries
all together, the total amount of energy needed seriously to produce
a buck of G.N.P. declined by 19 % between
1973 and 1984 (Brown et al. 1986). Beyond efficiency
improvements, commercial leads for new solar
technologies, particularly photovoltaic solar panels,
appear increasingly promising. (New York Times
April 29, 1986, February 11, 1987). These gains are
the beginnings of so what can be much more pronounced
improvements in power efficiency (Figure 20).
Transition 2
Transition 2 could be the move from a time of capital-
and materials-intensive, «high-throughput» tech-
nologies to a period of the latest technologies, soft and hard,
that don't generate much air pollution because they
use garbage very efficiently, depend on inputs that
278 world '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
have low ecological expenses, recover and recycle
materials, and they are thus more «closed.» The begin-
nings with this transition is visible within the current
move toward «waste minimization,» which ad-
vocate describes as follows:
A big multinational organization saves almost $400
million over a 10-year •period while cutting wastewa-
ter generation by 400 billion liters yearly;... a
chemical plant recycles and offers solvent wastes in-
stead of merely discarding them. They're just a few
examples that show your worldwide battle to keep toxic
substances and dangerous wastes from the environ-
ment without hampering the rate of industrial devel-
opment is using a promising change ...
Under the title of waste minimization (also
called clean technology or low- and non-waste tech-
nology in a few elements of the planet), innovative tech-
nologies, management techniques, and worker par-
ticipation principles are assisting to create similar or
equivalent items through less polluting and less
costly means... .It aims at preventing pollution be-
fore it begins. This front-end approach to industry re-
source management... results in less air pollution and
less manufacturing expenses.
(Purcell 1987, p. 25)
to help these styles, the «polluter pays»
concept is supplemented with another: «pol-
lution prevention pays» (e.g., 3M Company 1985,
Royston 1979). Air pollution prevention is encouraged
by the increasing costs of conventional air pollution control, but
policy-makers should encourage it in different ways as
well, like, by eliminating hurdles, increasing
research and development, and developing nation-
al waste-reduction policies and goals (see, e.g., Wash-
ington Post September 25, 1986).
Beyond reductions in raw product inputs and
waste lie a panoply of other opportunities, from new,
safer products that replacement older, dangerous
ones, to entirely brand new procedures and even industries
that can use sophisticated design and technology to
minimize or eliminate pollution.
Transition 3
Transition 3 could be the change to another in which
societies in fact apply our many advanced tech-
nology-assessment abilities and our most readily useful science
to «design with nature.» Much pollution regulation,
for example, was predicated on a «one pollutant/one
effect» approach, usually aided by the requirement that
tight causal connections to environmental damage
be identified the particular pollutant. That, how-
ever, isn't just how biological systems work. When
we glance at these systems, human being or environmental, we T)72 197.") 1974 1975 W6 1^77 10«8 W9 1900 11)81 1982 198 5
• t ii 11 IIIIII II HIM i mi n iiiilililll ii nil iniiillllliii mi
Figure 19. During 1972 to 1983, individuals with P.C.B. amounts above one
part per million declined from about 70 per cent of population to about
10 percent of the population, [source: ecological Protection Agency.
1987. Nationwide Adipose Tissue Survey, unpublished]
see that they're susceptible to multiple and interacting
stresses, chemical and real, natural and man-
made. Brand new regulatory principles are needed.
More broadly, brand new areas of science and tech-
nology offer great vow for understanding pollu-
tion, monitoring its sources, and reducing its pres-
ence. „Today we stay in the threshold of a
renaissance inside sciences worried about planet
Earth,“ scientist Thomas F. Malone (1986, p. 6) re-
cently wrote. This brand new industry, Earth-systems science
or biogeochemistry, provides a strong new tool for
understanding the earth's framework and metabo-
lism. Its urgent that this brand new technology be developed
and applied, the normal cycles of carbon, sulfur,
nitrogen, and phosphorus that are among its prima-
ry topics are now being impacted on an international scale by
pollution along with other human task. For example,
human nitrogen fixation, in fertilizers and industry,
is now believed to be approximately half normal fixation of
nitrogen. An important step toward realizing the potential
Earth '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives 279
1925--.•••--•: 1935--••••• -1945- 195S…… 1965 -19/5CO
1985 •
Figure 20. U. S. usage of energy has been leveling off,
thanks to energy-efficient technologies in transportation, industry, build-
ings, alongside areas. Meanwhile international power use has proceeded to rise,
[source: Darmstadter, J. 1971. Energy plus the World Economy. Johns Hop-
kins; U. N. Statistical workplace, 1984 and 1987. Energy Statistics Yearbook
1982 and 1985. Nyc; Department of Energy. 1987. Annual Review of
Energy 1986]
of the newest Earth technology happens to be taken with the 1986
launching of International Geosphere-Biosphere
Program (we. G. B. P.) under the leadership associated with the Inter-
national Council of Scientific Unions.
Industrial farming is a leading source of pol-
lution today, and right here the latest used technology of
agro-ecology offers vow. The environmental ap-
proach to agricultural manufacturing stresses low inputs
of commercial fertilizers, pesticides, and energy and,
in the alternative, biological recycling of power and
nutrients and primary reliance on obviously occur-
ring methods for crop protection (e.g., Dover & Tal-
bot 1987). Coupled with fast progress manufactured in or-
ganic farming as well as in built-in pest management as
an alternative to exclusive reliance on pesticides (Do-
ver 1985, Reganold et al. 1987, Washington Post No-
vember 20 & 23, 1987), agro-ecology offers the professionals- pect of an agriculture redesigned become sustainable
both economically and environmentally.
We reside in a period of unprecedented technologi-
cal modification. Major brand new fields—biotechnology, com-
puters and telecommunications, superconducting
and other brand new materials, remote sensing, photovol-
taics—offer answers to some of our undesirable pol-
lution and other challenges (age.g., company Week
1987b, Coulson et al. 1987, N.A.S. 1979). Yet much
experience teaches these as well as other emerging
technologies can also produce severe problems of
their very own (Levin & Harwell 1986, Pimentel 1987).
Governmentally sponsored technology assessments
are an important part associated with the procedure of public influ-
ence regarding direction of technical change. (See,
for instance, those performed the U. S. Congress
by work of tech Assessment and for the
Executive Branch underneath the National Environmental
Policy Act; additionally see Scientists' Institute for Public In-
formation v. Atomic Energy Commission, 481 F.2d
1079 [D. C. Cir. 1973], needing the application form of
N.E.P.A.'s ecological effect statement process
to provide a technology evaluation associated with the Atomic
Energy Commission's fast breeder-reactor program.)
A strong governmental role in technology assess-
ment and choice is essential if the complete possible of
emerging technologies is to be realized.
Transition 4
We should make a transition to a reputable eco-
nomics where policies do not subsidize the utilization of
raw materials and/or generation of waste. Private
companies and governments should „internalize the
externalities“ so the prices of products and services
on the market reflect the real social expenses of pro-
duction, including the costs of pollution to society.
And national income reports should treat the de-
preciation of natural assets just as rigorously as they
do the depreciation of money assets.
Creating effective financial incentives and dis-
incentives is essential to long-lasting air pollution control,
and making industry procedure are better by
»getting the prices right" is an essential methods to that
end. Present studies at World Resources Institute
have shown that numerous, possibly most, countries are
today subsidizing the use of water and chemicals in
agriculture, power, as well as other resources and thus
encouraging overuse, waste, and pollution (Kosmo
1987; Repetto 1985,1986a, b). Not just should we elim-
inate such subsidies (with appropriate measures to
counter possible effects on the poor), but we should
seriously start thinking about national or international fees or costs on
such important toxins as carbon and sulfur.
The marketplace is a robust force, and market
280 world '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
economies be seemingly more successful at control-
ling air pollution than are centrally in the pipeline ones
(Brown et al. 1987). We must do way more to har-
ness market forces for environmental objectives.
Transition 5
Fifth, we ought to relocate to more international
approaches to reducing air pollution. Once we have observed,
pollution problems are increasingly international
and also global. The pinnacle of O.E.C.D. Environ-
mental Directorate recently made the way it is for inter-
national agreements as follows:
No state can escape from being affected by develop-
ments elsewhere. The emergence of transfrontier pol-
lution while the requirement for concerted action to cut back pol-
lution have modified principles of national
interest and international obligations. The realities
of worldwide interdependence, once we are facing
them today, demand strengthened efforts to accelerate
this progress.
(Lykke 1987, p.8)
Environmental cooperation within international
level is innovative in countries of the European
Community, in which pollution control is increasingly
a Community matter. Perhaps the many impressive
international accords to date on air pollution are the
1979 Geneva meeting on Transboundary Air Pol-
lution (having its path-breaking 1984 protocol for a 30
per cent lowering of sulfur oxide emissions), and the
Vienna Ozone Layer Convention (with its 1987 Mon-
treal Protocol restricting chlorofluorocarbon emis-
sions). Whether we enjoy it or otherwise not, the diplomatic
agendas of countries will increasingly feature pollution
and other ecological issues.
Transition 6
And sixth is the development to a well balanced world
population. worldwide populace growth should be
halted before it doubles once again. Appropriate policies
would be to market financial advancement, educa-
tion, and wellness; also to improve the status of wom-
en, baby care, and household planning solutions (Re-
petto 1985b). It will likely be difficult enough to deal with
pollution in a global where populace has grown
from 5 billion to 8 billion individuals.
These six transitions, the reader will doubtless
note, are the product of a deep admiration of the
importance of economic and technological forces in
the contemporary world. But if solutions are located, they will result from another realm as well—from the
hopes and worries of individuals, from their aspirations for
their children and their wonder during the natural globe,
from their very own self-respect and their dogged insis-
tence that some things that seem to be really wrong
are in fact extremely wrong. Individuals every where are of-
fended by air pollution. They feeling intuitively that we
have squeezed beyond limits we have to not need ex-
ceeded. They would like to clean up the world, make it a
better spot, be good trustees regarding the Earth for future
generations. With Thoreau, they realize that heaven
is under our feet plus over our minds. Politicians
around the globe are increasingly hearing the de-
mand that things be set right. Which, at the very least, is
very good news indeed.
The author would like to acknowledge the
valuable help of Robert M. Kwartin, research
director of the World Resources show, for developing
figures as well as other home elevators environmental con-
ditions and styles. Helpful reviews and comments
on earlier drafts of this manuscript were supplied by
Alan Brewster, Edwin Clark, Mohamed Ed-Ashry,
John Firor, Bob Kwartin, Jim MacKenzie, Jessica
Mathews, Bob Repetto, Rafe Pomerance, Peter
Thacher, and Lauren Wenzel. To Bob Kwartin and
the others, we express deep appreciation.
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282 World '88: Changing Geographic Perspectives
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