Conservation and National Security
Given at Berkeley, California, November 11, 1981
First a perspective, with prejudice, and Les Pengelly's warning that you cannot reason prejudice out of a person because it didn't get in that way:
If you compress the earth to the size of an egg, all the water on earth is but a drop, the air liquefied for comparison but a droplet, and the soil a speck barely visible to the naked eye. Drop, droplet, and speck make the earth unique in the universe, and we rush to obliterate the difference. We should not.
Compress the earth's time to the Six Day of Creation, with Sunday midnight marking the beginning, and you find that life begins Tuesday noon, oil formation Saturday morning, dinosaurs on stage at four that afternoon and off stage by nine that evening, something like man five minutes before midnight but still Neanderthal eleven seconds before midnight. Not until one and a half seconds before midnight did we take up agriculture, a quarter of a second Christianity, a fortieth of a second the Industrial Revolution, and two-thousands of a second the strange addiction to exponential growth in our attack on resources that are not renewable. It is midnight, and we find ourselves almost incorrigibly enchanted by the illusion that what worked so briefly can go on and on. It cannot.
Second, a conservation credo that could lead to national security,
to be accompanied by whatever scenes flash through your mind and
whatever music pleases you:
There is but one ocean though its coves have many names;
a single sea of atmosphere, with no coves at all;
the miracle of soil, alive and giving life, lying thin
on the only earth, for which there is no spare.
We seek a renewed stirring of love for the earth.
We plead that what we are capable of doing to it
is often what we ought not to do.
We urge that all people now determine
that an untrammeled wildness shall remain here
to testify that this generation had love for the next
and hope for a greater wisdom than we have yet known.
We would celebrate a new renaissance.
The old one found a new world to exploit.
The new one has discovered the earth's limits.
Knowing them, we may learn anew
what compassion and beauty are,
and pause to listen to the earth's music.
We may see that progress is not the accelerating speed
with which we multiply and subdue the earth,
nor the growing number of things we possess and cling to.
It is a way along which to search for truth,
to find serenity and love and reverence for life,
to be part of an enduring harmony.
Let the twenty second Albright Lecture begin with words from a book published two years before Horace Albright graduated from this campus (and two years before I was born a few blocks from it).
In 1910 Charles Richard Van Hise wrote in The Conservation of Natural Resources in the United States, "...the period in which individualism was patriotism in this country has passed by; and the time has come when individualism must become subordinate to responsibility to the many." He realized that "we cannot hope that we shall be able to reverse the great law that energy is run down in transformation, or that we can reuse indefinitely the resources of nature without loss." He wondered what changes in social structure would result "when people begin to feel pinched by meager soil and the lack of coal." (He had already concluded that the greatest use for petroleum would be as a lubricant, and had not contemplated that automobiles would use any.) He concluded that "the paramount duty remains to us to transmit to our descendants the resources which nature has bequeathed to us as nearly undiminished in amount as possible, consistent with living a rational and frugal life." He concluded: "In a few thousand years man has risen from the level of the savage to the height of the great creations of science, literature, and art... It is in order that humanity itself may be given an opportunity to develop through millions of years to come under the most advantageous conditions that we should conserve our natural resources, and thus make possible to billions of future human beings a godlike destiny."
And his text ended with a familiar line: "Conservation means 'the greatest good to the greatest number - and that for the longest time.'"
Even as he was writing, people were forgetting a critical part of that definition - for the longest time." They were already eroding and ignoring the Declaration of Governors adopted May 15, 1908, at the White House conference for conservation of natural resources called by President Theodore Roosevelt. Van Hise himself had not begun to appreciate the devastating forces about to be unleashed by the addiction to exponential growth. He foresaw, for example, that the burning of coal could cause trouble, and cited a physicist who had identified the greenhouse effect by 1896 and had predicted that if the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased by 2.5 to 3 times its 1896 value the temperature in the arctic regions must rise 8 to 9 degrees Centigrade and produce a climate as mild as that of the Eocene period (abundant vegetation existed in Greenland then). Van Hise suggested that "the coal consumption may become so rapid as to accomplish this in 1000 years or less."
How quickly have we reduced that thousand to 200 or less! And how firmly have we refused to take individualism out of our patriotism, or extend patriotism to include an ardent love for an entire earth! But it is not too late. And we can still care about the millenia yet to spin out, and be concerned about the largest population of all. That consists of the billions of people to come, and all the billions of children they will wish to have and see grow up with hope in all those millenia. Their genes are now in our custody. Quite a responsibility, that one!
We have work to do. Today "the longest time" is being given the shortest shrift in history. There is no greater threat to national security or to the global security to which our own is inextricably tied, than the present rampant discounting, Of the future - the economists' greatest sin. It fuels the insane contest now being exacerbated by the superpowers. That contest can, in a moment's confusion, bring the nuclear exchange that would end forever the dream of a "godlike destiny" for humanity. It would also extinguish the biological diversity any benign successors would need. As President Carter said in his farewell address, World War III would be brief.
Ray Dasmann, who gave the Albright Lecture in 1976, says: "We are already fighting World War III and I am sorry to say we are winning it. It is the war against the earth." We were warned of this a decade ago in Blueprint for Survival, by Robert Allen, Teddy Goldsmith, and the team from Britain's The Ecologist. More warning came in the Club of Rome's The Limits to Growth and Mankind at the Turning Point. The alarm was sounded in Stockholm in 1972 at the first major international conservation conference. In spring 1980 the International Union for Conservation of Nature urged, after a long study joined by many nations and scientists, that a world conservation strategy was essential, and they published How to Save the Earth, by Robert Allen, but not widely enough. The Brandt Commission increased global anxieties in its study of the North versus South conflict. The Global 2000 Report to the President was issued in July 1980 after three years' preparation, to bring the warnings splendidly up to date. The Global Tomorrow Coalition of more than fifty U.S. organizations is trying to keep the warning system operable. Meanwhile, Herman Kahn, Julian Simon, and David Stockman try to dismantle the system; signs saying "Bridge Out" annoy them.
Not to let earlier prophets be forgotten, be it known that all these warnings were anticipated in an extraordinary book published in 1960, drawn from an exhibit assembled by the Sierra Club in 1956, both under the title, "This Is the American Earth." Both were instigated by the 1975 Albright lecturer, Ansel Adams. The text and design were by Nancy Newhall. All in all, I have known fourteen of the Albright lecturers, but worked with Ansel Adams more than with all the rest combined. Most of that work was on the exhibit, the book, and the many good things they led to.
For one thing, This Is the American Earth led to nineteen other Sierra Club books in the same format and to ten more published by Friends of the Earth. For another, it led to Justice William 0. Douglas. He called the book "one of the great statements in the history of conservation." He was soon thereafter to serve on the club's Board of Directors. This in turn led to a letter from him to me that is one of the high points of my life. He had attended a Ford Foundation dinner, had there been told that they wanted his recommendations about how to reorganize their conservation program, and he ended his letter with "What shall I say?"
Robert Golden and I (he was on the club staff) put our heads together. With coaching from Dr. Dan Loren, well known in natural-resources circles on this campus and many others, we devised a five-point program. justice Douglas put it in his own words and presented it to the Foundation, where most of it seems to have been ignored. He asked me to follow up and I tried, first presenting it to the public at the Sierra Club's 1963 Wilderness Conference in San Francisco. (It was also published in the 1964 annual Sierra Club Bulletin and in Friends of the Earth's Not Man Apart shortly after Justice Douglas died.)
Let me present those five points to you now, briefly and in reverse order. Four of them are as essential as they ever were, and the last is the most important task there is, I submit, for all of us.
We called first for a program to build careers in preservation. We noted the need to balance the "wise use" graduates with guardians of reserves, and to give status to both kinds of careers, not just wise users. We wanted to inculcate ecological literacy in all fields, and still want to. We need guardians of reserves in a broader sense - genetic reserves, places where the biological diversity of the earth can keep diversifying. Zoos and seed banks are fine for those who like them, but aren't even a down payment on survival.
Next we asked for a crash program for reserving the irreplaceables. Private philanthropy must be relied upon, we thought, for revolving funds with which to buy and hold certain key areas, particularly those in which wilderness and biological diversity are paramount and threatened. The funds would revolve whenever it was politically possible for the government - the commonwealth - to exercise its responsibility for the commons. The Ford Foundation liked the idea and provided a six-million-dollar line of credit to the Nature Conservancy to help carry it out. In our present situation the need is greater than it was then. We need a thousand times that much now, across the whole foundation front.
Third was a plan for the reinterpretation of nature - a conservation education program. The objective would be to inform the public as promptly and thoroughly as possible about ecosystems and peaceful stability - more about which in a moment. The reinterpreters would need to avoid economic and natural-resource cliches and would be prohibited from saying interface, elitist, input, output, parameter, paradigm, prioritize, or holistic - the latter, as Les Pengelly observes, being used as a noun, an adjective, and a substitute for thought.
Fourth, we wanted a center for the advanced study of ecosystems. This was the brainchild of the late Edward H. Graham, of the Soil Conservation Service, who proposed it in 196 1, the year of the first Albright lecture. The center would seek out some Einsteins of biology and given them a chance to speak out freely after some reasonable periods of unharassed thought. Such a center could explain the Law of the Minimum to us (e.g., it doesn't help to have more water than you need if you run out of air), or help produce such people as Robert MacNamara wanted around to help him invest World Bank funds in ways that would be ecologically sound. He wanted a thousand trained ecologists then and couldn't find them. In keeping with Dr. Graham's dream, the center might lead us toward ecologically sound agriculture instead of present agricultural mining methods now being followed that could drive society into the ground.
Most important, we wanted the Ford Foundation to make a major effort toward developing a blueprint for the economics of peaceful stability. If the Ford Foundation had listened, I would not have felt the need to give this lecture. And you would not be burdened with my using, as preface to the meat of the lecture, what we said in 1962 about the blueprint for peaceful stability, extracts from which follow, slightly edited:
The "vigorous growing economy" all our leaders keep exhorting us to produce is not possible on an earth of fixed size, and continuing attempts to produce it are the basic threat to peace.
The momentum of this phrase is so great that it will take a major effort to offset it and prove we can live without it. The UN is already showing concern about the question, Can the economy withstand peace? The concomitant question is, Can limited resources withstand a constantly expanding expenditure? The answer to the first question is and must be yes, and to the second question, no. Both answers are painfully obvious but universally avoided. There is no better cause than to face them, squarely and learn to live with them.
It doesn't take much imagination to demonstrate that unending growth will do our children and theirs out of the heritage they deserve - and that we can survive without that unending growth and only without it. Do you know any conservation group that is giving this serious consideration? I don't think you do. It is one of the taboos. I do not think you can find an agency in government yet willing to question growth. But some growth is bad - for instance, malignant growth. One way to combat malignancy is to examine for it periodically. I believe there is malignancy in our economy, and that all conservation will fail unless it is checked. We need to get the checking started. We ought not be lulled by the euphoric statement, 11 man's power to mold the world to his liking is almost unlimited.
We would do better to remember Loren Eiseley's warning about "the wounded outcry of the human ego as...it learns that the world supposedly made for its enjoyment has existed for untold eons entirely indifferent to its coming."
"The need is not really for more brains", Eiseley said, "the need is now for a gentler, a more tolerant people than those who won for us against the ice, the tiger, and the bear. The hand that hefted the axe, out of some old blind allegiance to the past, fondles the machine gun as lovingly. It is a habit man will have to break to survive, but the roots go very deep."
Elsewhere Eiseley spoke of the machine gun's monstrous successor. "He holds the heat of suns within his hands and threatens with it both the lives and happiness of his unborn descendants...caught in a physiological trap and faced with the problem of escaping from his own ingenuity."
Paul Sears has told us this: "As we lengthen and elaborate the chain of technology that intervenes between us and the natural world, we forget that we become steadily more vulnerable to even the slightest failure in that chain."
Joseph Wood Krutch agreed: "It is not a sentimental but a grimly literal fact that unless we share this terrestrial globe with creatures other than ourselves, we shall not be able to live on it for long."
Lewis Mumford adds: "To put all our hope in the improvement of machines is the characteristic inversion and perversion of the present age; and that is the reason that our machines threaten us with extinction, since they are now in the hands of deplorably unimproved men."
So we need a blueprint for an economy that will endure in peaceful stability, that will not require the war with the environment that leads to war with fellow man. The blueprint will not be easily prepared, nor can we keep all our bad habits and live with it. Neither can we keep our bad habits too long and live at all. If man learns the importance of living at peace with his environment, wilderness will be safe. So will he.
Which brings us to Henry David Thoreau: "What's the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?"
I have mellowed enough since 1962 to put the question a different way: What kinds of growth must we have and which kinds can we no longer afford? As the first of two assignments, would you please make your own list of what growth to add and what to subtract? By combining your list and others in some impressive way, we may be able to persuade people with capital on hand to invest it or deny it more usefully, with their goal being the building of a sustainable society, as proposed by Lester Brown, of Worldwatch. Investors can make changes faster than governments can. They are rapidly putting nuclear power out of business. Their investment in oil conservation instead of in oil squandering could speedily cool our temptation to risk the society in order to preempt Middle East oil. Alternate investment could encourage our and Soviet disarming, and help diffuse the population bomb.
In the brief period since the ink dried on the proposal to the Ford Foundation, the earth's population has grown by a billion. When the echo had died on these words and nineteen more years have passed, our present habits will put another two billion people on earth (if we can find enough firewood to cook their food), double the present acreage of the earth's deserts, extinguish a million or two species of plants and animals, and otherwise multiply ecological insults and deplenish the earth. By then it bristles with missiles - if they have not already been sent on their mission to extinguish us all. If Armageddon had not yet arrived the superpowers would by then have spent some 25 trillion dollars on armament - and the opportunity to build a sustainable society on the earth would have been deprived of that much capital, resources, human effort, and human freedom.
Is there a better direction for our society to choose? A way to find friends, not lose them? A sensitivity to what is leading the separate superpowers to join in panic? Can we find an antidote to all this? A rededication to the idea that led us to become a nation, updated with our knowing now that the world flows together or blows apart? A willingness to share resources with the people who are here now, and share also with so many more yet to arrive here, with needs as real as ours, including their need to know that we were capable of thinking of them? More immediately, can we protect our children's right to have a chance to grow up, and our own right to love watching them grow up?
There is a better direction, and the President of the most powerful nation on earth - one which once had a dream doesn't know it. Nor does the team he selected. He and they are leading us into unprecedented disarray, with malice toward all but a favored few. Call it The Disarrayed Society of Ronald Reagan. The threat of the final war is so huge and so imminent that we can forgive ourselves for not wanting to think about it, but we dare not fail to think about it. People who bury heads in sand these days may all too soon find that sand fused.
In short, President Reagan has sidelined outstanding Republican conservationists, irritated Wall Street, alarmed our friends abroad, frightened the Third World nations by deepening the inequity of our relations with them, and could be driving our supposed adversary, with whom we have never fought, to desperation. He has said it is none of our business who has the bomb and denied having said so. He has said "It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy" and then said that he "was misinterpreted." He has crippled energy-saving and oil-substituting programs and has massively increased nuclear subsidies. He supports the Clinch River Breeder Reactor boondoggle and has supported reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. This could lead to one of the most horrendous of domestic threats.* It would also make a mockery of the Nonproliferation Treaty which, weak though it is, is the best the world has achieved so far in slowing the spread of nuclear weapons. He has said that he believes limited nuclear war is possible. He has rescued the neutron bomb and pushed forward the MX Missile and other moves by President Carter giving the U.S. a first-strike capability. When Secretaries Haig and Weinberger contradict each other about firing a nuclear warning shot, he lets it be said that both are right. He has ground the improvement of the national park system to a halt when every delay adds enormously to cost. Let it be added that he has issued a splendid statement in favor of saving whales. For that act we are grateful. Not for the others. We would favor the President's consistent support for corporations if corporations were not so often a device for separating enterprise from conscience - and the hiring of a pride of lawyers to keep the gap intact.
The President's attitude toward the Third World resembles Senator Hayakawa's toward the poor. Stopped in a Senate Building corridor, the Senator suggested a heavy gasoline tax to ease the energy crisis. What would that do to the poor? He replied, "The poor aren't working. They don't need gas." In jest, we hope. We would support such a tax. The poor can be helped by better means than making gas cheap for Cadillacs.
I would urge the President to replace what is becoming known as the Reagan wrecking crew with competent Republicans. There are many: they brought about environmental achievements by President Nixon that most people have forgotten. It would not hurt to add a Democrat or two. Bipartisan moves have worked well in the past. Thoughtful analysis of conservation matters would improve national security by leading away from the Strength Through Exhaustion syndrome that recent presidents, including Mr. Reagan, suffer from. Mr. Reagan is extraordinarily in need of environmental homework; otherwise we could justifiably publish a Ronald Reagan Environmental Handbook, consisting of a three-by-five card file, empty.
We are hoping that the Republicans who carried Mr. Reagan to the presidency will see the immediate importance of persuading the president to make conservation moves in the interest of national security.
The alternative, it seems to me, is that his farewell address be expedited.
These words are harsh, harsher I am sure than were ever spoken in an Albright lecture, harsher than Horace Albright himself has used, far harsher than I like to use or have ever used, but use now because I must. The war that no one wants is inevitable, unless we say no. A chorus of voices in both political parties is saying no and needs to be joined. So do the voices with vast military experience, including words President Eisenhower spoke and President Reagan should memorize. So do the voices of the scientists and engineers working other fields than preparation for war, fields that need the skills of the other half of the professions who are coopted for war. So do the voices of those who think self-interest has driven us too long, that technology has become too rampant, that serenity and faith and love are all but lost and must not be. The appendix contains relevant excerpts from W. Averill Harriman, General Maxwell Taylor, George Kerman, John B. Oakes, and Senator Charles Percy.
I could list things that these and other people think our change of direction should consist of and that I agree with, but it is far better for you to come up with the list. Perhaps in this way:
You are President. You have a trillion dollars to spend in the next five years to enhance national security, which itself cannot be enhanced without a context of global security. You know how much more important conservation is than did the governors President Theodore Roosevelt summoned to the White House. You know, as you look about you in your own neighborhood, your state and nation and planet, what things need to be done and what seem most important to you. So with this trillion dollars at your disposal-and when did anyone ever offer you that much before, with only one string on it-what would you spend it on between now and the end of December 1986 to increase the earth's security and hence our own? The string? You may not spend it on weapons. You realize, of course, that a nuclear Maginot Line would be far worse than useless. You realize, too, that if you do not spend it on weapons, the Soviet leadership will not need to do so either. So that makes two trillion dollars or equivalent available for healing the earth instead of wounding it further.
While you are thinking of items for your list, I'll reveal that the first item that came to my mind was reforesting the earth - not all the original forest land, of course, but that which should no longer remain derelict. Alfred Heller would spend his trillion dollars on exactly what is being started on the Santa Cruz A campus, expanded to global scale - agri-ecology. Combined with Mr. Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution and Wes Jackson's New Roots For Agriculture, agri-ecology could bring about a sustainable food supply for an otherwise sustainable population.
One alternative Dan Loren suggested long ago was to ship Detroit's guzzling inventory to the U.S.S.R. free of charge and let the Soviets worry about fuel, maintenance, highways, and deteriorating railroads. We would order Detroit and the Army Corps of Engineers to get our own railroads back on the track, so as to provide sustainable mass transportation while we still had enough affordable energy left to power the recovery. But all those cars would be cruel and inhuman punishment to an ally that helped us immensely in World War II.
I wish I could show you two maps and stop talking for a while. One is a computer map of the U.S. population in 1776, 1876, and 1976, prepared at M.I.T. On the 1876 segment Los Angeles is barely perceptible. It had not even become one of the largest 25 U.S. cities by the 1900 census. The M.I.T. map is enough to assure even a Herman Kahn that we can't go on in the next century the way we carried on in the first two. It should assure the space colonizers that they couldn't dissect asteroids fast enough to build colonies for our fertility excess, or find fuel enough to ship it any farther than India, where it is hardly needed.
The other map exists only in my mind - a demographic-drain map to show what resources were required to sustain our new population peaks, a map in which the area of countries is the product of their population multiplied by their resource drain. Newsweek published a map on October 26 that comes close, but not close enough. Something better than gross national product is needed to measure the drain of resources. (For example, the U.S., with five per cent of the world's population, uses one third of the resources; the remaining ninety-five per cent use the other two thirds - a ratio of about ten to one. Our 225 million, multiplied by ten, equals 2.25 billion, half the earth's population. On the global map, then, the U.S. would occupy half the entire land area, and in the Newsweek map it doesn't begin to. Africa would be tiny.) I think that if we looked long and hard at such a map, we would realize why it has been said that a lot of nations are thinking they can't afford the U.S. anymore. When I first heard that comment, scenes from Italy flashed through my mind, abandoned castles on hills, castles once comfortably occupied by the affluent who thought that if they kept their supporting peasants ill-clothed and ill-housed and ill-fed enough, the peasants couldn't muster enough strength to cause trouble. You could simply tell them to lift themselves by their own bootstraps, mind the magic of the market place, and buy a do-it-yourself covered wagon and go west, as President Reagan has in effect told the Third World.
We have better ideas, and I am sure you do. For the full Friends of the Earth list of things to spend a trillion on, I refer you to Progress As If Survival Mattered: A Handbook for a Conserver Society.
But while you are waiting to see it, and before I give you your next assignment, let me try another idea out on you.
One of the nicest angles of all is the 180° angle. It enables one to change direction completely and still go straight. It is the face-saving angle and I suggest that it is time to use it. The superpowers, instead of standing toe to toe, ought to stand back to back and see not what they can do to each other, but what they can do for the rest of the world. Contemplate a U.S.-Soviet Marshall Plan. Let it invest not in resource depletion, but in resource recovery, in finding ways to avoid fatal battles over what is in the bottom of the barrel, to get our own numbers down, with deliberate speed, to what the bounties of a limited earth can sustain. If this means an orderly retreat from the Land of Self-Interest and Avarice, perhaps we have been there too long anyway. If all this sounds utopian, the alternative is oblivion. Easy choice.
The most important investment toward global security that the North could make, as it looks more at the South's needs instead of so much at its own, is investment in recovery of renewable-resource potential. How can the lesser developed countries use sun and soil better for their own advantage, even if that means we are deprived of some surfeit? There are various ways of going about this. A first requirement is to change our mindset. Studies help.
Back in the mid-fifties we came up with the idea of a Scenic Resources Review. It was suggested by the periodic Timber Resources Review, and I thought we ought to look at intangibles as systematically. Renamed the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review, it was carried out by a commission that mixed private individuals with Members of Congress. The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and a few other improvements came out of it all. But it was too limited, and it is time to try again.
Perhaps a global Renewable Resources Review and Intangible Resources Review could carry on where The Global 2000 Report to the President left off, and give the present administration something to do besides dismantle the century's conservation gains in order to find money for missiles. Instead of threatening to withdraw support from the United Nations Environment Program, the U.S. could increase support in order to celebrate, in 1982, the tenth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Preparation for that could assist groundwork for still another anniversary - the seventy-fifth (diamond jubilee) anniversary of the Governor's Conference on Natural Resources that Theodore Roosevelt convened at the White House. John F. Kennedy called one, as one would expect; his interest in conservation was obvious in his appointments. In the Roosevelt conference only one voice, that of J. Horace McFarland, spoke in behalf of scenic resources. In the Kennedy conference it was the other way around, and only one voice spoke for utilitarian conservation - Congressman Wayne Aspinall at Colorado. Gifford Pinchot won the first round, John Muir the Second.
Ronald Reagan now has a chance to make use of that 180' angle. He could call for the seventy-fifth anniversary, in mid-May 1983, a White House Conference on Conservation and Global Security. There is just enough time for sound preparation. He should welcome bipartisan support. Richard Nixon's chief environmental advisor, Russell Train, currently cochairman of the Year 2000 Committee, knows how to use such support. He has also worked with Soviet conservationists. The conference could have no more important goal than developing means by which a bipartisan world could develop and apply conservation plans for the longest period of peaceful co-existence in the earth's history.
We could remind President Reagan that physicians, who are not notorious for their radical attitudes, have set an example by organizing Physicians for Social Responsibility. They are having an enormous influence, for which we can be most grateful, in awakening the world to the nuclear menace. Perhaps it is time to organize Politicians for Social Responsibility - responsible for seeking a sustainable society on a global scale.
If this is a dream, buy it. Unless you are hooked on nightmares.
We are back to you and your trillion dollars. Assuming that you would not take the easy out - sparing the taxpayers of that burden in the first place - what else would you do? What ten programs would you have the United States design, with your help, to improve the human condition and the life-support system most humans depend upon? What programs now being starved, or not yet thought of, because of our preoccupation with weapons, Trident, MX, cruise missile, throwweight, ground zeroes, missile fratricide, electromagnetic pulse, assorted euphemisms for megadeath, and the needless acceleration of mutations, few of them desirable? Ten is a good enough number to start with. Take your time in making out the list and the allocation of funds to each item. Your papers will not be due until Christmas, a day on which quite a few people on earth remember to celebrate a Prince of Peace who said the meek would inherit the earth and who presumably did not think it would have been subdued and incinerated before they received title to it.
Send your list to me, if you will, at Friends of the Earth, in San Francisco. Perhaps we can get the Gallop or Harris people to tabulate the data for us. Above all, send a copy to Presidents Reagan and Brezhnev. You may wish also to send President Reagan a copy of President Eisenhower's farewell address, urging that his own be as thoughtful, his intervening performance better. Remind him, if you will, that the ten per cent of the American populace who voted for him (plus the votes he received that were against Jimmy Carter) do not constitute a mandate for him, much less for Mr. Watt, Messrs. Edwards, Haig, and Weinberger, or Senator Lexalt, Joseph Coors, and Mrs. Gorsuch. Or for Mr. Meese - who supported the philosophy of the Governor Reagan who a few years ago was willing to have a blood bath on this campus.
Harsh words again, yes. Derived from fright, and the wish, however poorly put, to motivate you into seeing that this planet does not perish from the Universe because you had part in letting it.
Your list of ten steps toward survival need not be harshly presented. Let your prelude be the words of the man who lost to General Eisenhower: UN Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, in his last speech, given in Geneva in July 1965, left us this wisdom, in the finest conservation message I know:
"We travel together, passengers on a little space craft, dependent upon its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by the work, the care and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. We cannot maintain it half comfortable, half miserable; half confident, half despairing; half slave to the ancient enemies of mankind, half free in a liberation of resources undreamed of until this day. No craft, no crew, can travel safely with such vast contradictions. On their resolution depends the survival of us all."
These words should be in all the places that celebrate the 1945 agreement that war must no longer be the route to resolution. It should be carved in stone at the United Nations centers, translated as necessary, in as grand a manner as can be afforded. It should be ten feet high in the Oval Office, printed somewhere on every calendar. And remembered in every heart, especially the line in which we are spared by "the work, the care and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft" - love given the earth, ourselves, and our fellow creatures, remember (as we so often do not) that love is the one resource that will be exhausted only if we forget to use it.
The Window of Opportunity
W. Averell Harriman, former ambassador to Moscow & Undersec. of State, Washington Post Op Ed, Nov. 4, 1981
We are in danger of ceding our destiny to the whims of nuclear weapons, trusting to good fortune to see us through the nuclear arms race when we should be trusting to ourselves.
The strategic forces of the United States and the Soviet Union carry explosive power more than 100,000 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. Far from saying "enough," both nations are increasing these forces...
America must take advantage of the window of opportunity it now has to limit nuclear arms...
Negotiations to limit nuclear arms and reduce the risk of war are hardheaded exercises to improve our national security. They signal no approval of other Soviet actions, such as Afghanistan - no more than do sales of American grain to the Soviet Union. They seek, despite the irreconcilable ideologies of our two nations, the common goal that nuclear weapons have made a necessity - the prevention of nuclear war.
In our short time on Earth, we have a choice about the kind of world we leave behind. With nuclear weapons in our custody, our generation carries a heavy obligation. There will be no historian to record one day that we failed on our watch.
Reagan's Military Policy Is in Trouble
General Maxwell D. Taylor, Army chief of staff under Eisenhower, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Kennedy and Johnson. Washington Post op ed, Nov. 2, 1981
With the Reagan economic policy in trouble, his military policy cannot be far behind. Like the voice of the turtle, a swelling chorus of critics and skeptics is rising to question the validity of the goals and programs that constitute a seemingly disjointed military policy. The critics stress the estimated cost of over a trillion dollars in five years and the likely effect on government deficits and social programs...
Implicit in both the criticism and the skepticism is a feeling that the administration does not have a military policy worthy of the name... The administration seems committed to preparing for the least probable threats to the neglect of the most probable.
If the Reagan policy is as deficient as these criticisms (Taylor's) imply, can anything be done to retrieve the situation at this late hour? It would require fundamental changes of policy involving a broadened recognition of the threat, a restatement of policy goals and a new set of guidelines for the structuring of the armed forces...
New stress placed upon the role of the armed forces in securing our national power base in the Western Hemisphere and in protecting the national economy should appeal to the average citizen who wants to see the relation between increased military expenditures and his own way of life. A modified policy would offer him a reasonable chance to remain safe without going broke in the process.
Perils of Arms Race
George Kennan, former ambassador to Moscow and architect of the containment doctrine, basis of American policy toward the Soviets for decades. In SF Chron Nov. 9, 1981, from The New Yorker.
[after paragraphs on what his opponents see in the Kremlin] What I see is something quite different.
I see a group of troubled men - elderly men, for the most part - whose choices and possibilities are severely constrained. I see these men as prisoners of many circumstances: prisoners of the antiquated ideology to which their extreme sense of orthodoxy binds them; prisoners of the rigid system of power that has given them their authority; but prisoners, too, of certain ingrained peculiarities of the Russian statesmanship of earlier ages - the congenital sense of insecurity, the lack of inner self-confidence, the distrust of the foreigner and the foreigner's world, the passion for secrecy, the neurotic fear of penetration by other powers into areas close to their borders, and a persistent tendency, resulting from all these other factors, to overdo the creation of military strength. I see her men deeply preoccupied, as were their Czarist Russian predecessors, with questions of prestige - preoccupied more, in many instances, with the appearances than with the realities.
I do not see them as men anxious to expand their power by the direct use of their armed forces, although they could be easily frightened into taking actions that would seem to have this aim.
* * *
I believe, too, that internal developments in the Soviet Union present a heavy claim on the attention and priorities of the Soviet leaders. They are deeply committed to the completion of their existing programs for the economic and social development of the Soviet peoples, and I am sure that they are very seriously concerned over the numerous problems that have recently been impeding that completion: the perennial agricultural failures; the many signs of public apathy, demoralization, drunkenness, and labor absenteeism; the imbalance in the population growth between the Russian center and the non-Russian periphery; the increasing shortage of skilled labor, and the widespread economic corruption and indiscipline.
They differ among themselves as to how these problems should be approached, but I doubt whether there are any of them who think that the problems could be solved by the unleashing of another world war.
* * *
I believe that until we consent to recognize that the nuclear weapons we hold in our hands are as much a danger to us as those that repose in the hands of our supposed adversaries there will be no escape from the confusions and dilemmas to which such weapons have now brought us, and must bring us increasingly as time goes on.
For this reason, I see no solution to the problem other than the complete elimination of these and all other weapons of mass destruction from national arsenals; and the sooner we move toward that solution, and the greater courage we show in doing so, the safer we will be,
The Reagan Hoax
John B. Oakes, (Former editorial page editor; former senior editor, New York Times) NYT Op Ed, November 1, 1981
While a bemused public and a leaderless Congress look on, foreign and domestic policies that are classic throwbacks to Hoover, Harding, and McKinley are now being locked into place - with a dash of secretive, imperious Nixonism tossed in.
President Reagan has substituted a mindless militarism for a foreign policy, rattling arms from El Salvador to West Germany, . . . an openended arms race that poses a greater threat to our own internal and external security than all the Communist propaganda that ever emanated from Moscow.
Already, the cost of Reagan policies is devastating to our country in economic strength, in diplomatic influence, in national security, in moral statute...
The President's unspoken animus against the environment operates not only via the budget. It takes on immediate life in internal orders, administrative regulations, appointments and firings already executed by such "fronts" as Secretary of the Interior James Watt and Environmental Protection Administrator Anne M. Gorsuch.
Mr. Watt has been busily torpedoing his department's environmental-program function, such as strip-mining control, with Mr. Reagan's "full approval." Mrs. Gorsuch is in effect dismantling the E.P.A., making it impossible to administer the antipollution and tox-substance-control laws it was designed to oversee. Her proposals for a cut-rate Clean Air Act are a guarantee of dirtier air.
Senator Robert T. Stafford, Republican of Vermont, remarked a few days ago: "To make these laws unenforceable because of the de facto repeal achieved through cuts in money and personnel would be to perpetrate a cruel hoax on the American people."
That is precisely what "good guy" Reagan is doing, right across the board. The question is: How long will the American people continue to be hoaxed?
"The world is waiting,
and not for us just to
arm, arm, arm."
Senator Charles Percy, Republican of Illinois to the Committee For National Security, Oct. '81.
*Nuclear weapons expert Theodore Taylor has said that the destruction of a reprocessing plant that had been operating for ten years could release more Strontium-90 and Cesium- 137 than would the detonation of all the nuclear weapons now on earth, Were this to happen in Western Europe, the region would be rendered uninhabitable for many years.
Introducing: David Brower
David Brower, the 22nd Albright Lecturer, is a lifelong conservationist, friend of the earth, and publicist who has done much to increase the appreciation of people for the beauty of the natural environments. His career in conservation is marked by nearly forty years of leadership in national conservation organizations, notably the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth, and involvement in numerous battles over parks and wilderness.
Reared in Berkeley, where he was born in 1912, Mr. Brower enrolled at the University of California as a freshman in 1929. Two years later he withdrew to try to earn a living. He worked for three years (1935-38) as an accountant and publicist for the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, and then became a leader of Sierra Club high mountain trips. He also climbed mountains, including a first ascent of Shiprock in New Mexico and many others in the Sierra Nevada.
In 1941 Mr. Brower joined the UC Press as an editor. He left in 1942 for wartime service in the 10th Mountain Division Infantry, U.S. Army. In 1945 he returned to UC Press, where he worked until 1952, when he became Executive Director of the Sierra Club, headquartered in San Francisco. For the next 17 years he helped guide the Sierra Club through a major transition from a local organization primarily concerned with the high mountain country of the Sierra to a national organization whose activities were directed to establishment of new parks, wilderness, environmental quality, and land use. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Kings Canyon, North Cascade and Redwood National Parks, the National Outdoor Recreation Resources Review, and the Wilderness Act of 1964, and led the effort to keep dams out of the Dinosaur National Monument and the Grand Canyon. He also initiated the highly successful Sierra Club Exhibit Format Series, contributing as the designer and editor to the publication of 20 volumes during the period 1960-68.
Mr. Brower left the Sierra Club in 1969. He immediately founded Friends of the Earth, which he now heads as Chairman. For two years, 1969-7 1, he also served as Director of the John Muir Institute of Environmental Studies. In 1972 he founded Friends of the Earth Foundation and in 1973, Friends of the Earth International. These activities have involved him in global as well as national issues.
Mr. Brower's achievements in conservation are recognized by numerous awards. These include the Carey-Thomas Award, Paul Bartsch Award, John Muir Award, and other awards from the National Park Association, California Conservation Council, and Audubon Naturalist Society of Central Atlantic States. He has received honorary doctors degrees from Hobart and
William Smith College; Claremont College, Graduate School; University of Maryland; University of San Francisco; Colorado College; and Starr King School of Ministry,
His own view of this notable record of effort in conservation causes is best summed up in this quotation from Who's Who in America (1978-79 edition):
"It is true that some major resources of wildlife and wilderness, and all they mean to people, are still intact thanks to conservation battles I have shared. For this I can only be grateful - for the help, and the hope that future battles for these irreplaceable things will be as successful. They will be if enough people realize that this generation is not required to race through all the resources it can find, if humanity comprehends that this is the only earth, and there is no spare."