3 - "Our declining environment may bring the people of the...

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"Our declining environment may bring the people of the world together as no politician, philosopher, or war ever could. Environmental problems are global in scope and respect no nation's boundaries. Therefore, people are faced with the choice of unity and cooperation on the one hand or disunity and a common tragedy on the other." 66 Cooperation---or Tragedy? The solution to the world's growing environmental problems may have to wait awhile. It has been said that "environmental problems are global and respect no nation's boundaries." Unfortunately, pollution and its consequences still fall to large measure on those least likely to do anything about it: poor countries willing to sacrifice anything in order to sit at the table with the world's wealthy. As far as the industrialized nations of the world are concerned, the world is a big place. Environmental destruction taking place outside their borders may sometimes be fodder for government pronouncements of concern, but few concrete actions. Deforestation of the Amazon, for instance, is of vital concern to all those who wish to continue breathing. But the only effective deterrent to this activity, the restriction of international aid money to those countries showing net deforestation, has been stalled in the United Nations by those unwilling to "interfere" in the internal politics of other nations. Because of the differential impact of polluting activities around the world, and even in different regions of a single country, many governments will undoubtedly continue to promulgate only modest environmental regulations. Costs to polluting companies will continue to carry as much weight as the benefit of a pollution-free environment. Particularly in the current political climate of the United States, the well-documented expense of today's pollution-control measures will be stacked against the unknown long-term effects of polluting actitivities. "Why should I spend millions of dollars a year, which causes me to have to raise the cost of my goods or eliminate jobs, if no one really knows if air pollution is all that harmful? Show me the proof, " an air polluting company may demand. Realistically, it won't be until critical mass is achieved that the hoped for "choice of unity and cooperation" will be a viable one. Only when the earth as a whole is so polluted that life itself becomes increasingly difficult for a majority of the world's people will there likely be the political will to force global environmental laws on governments worldwide. But the optimists (read: environmental activists) among us continue to believe that the world can be shown the error of its ways. They continue to point out that the sky is probably falling--or at least developing a big hole. The world, as a whole, ignores them.
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