Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum

Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum

Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum

Environmental Quality in a Growing Economy: Essays from the Sixth RFF Forum

Excerpt

Captain Donaldson, a retired glassblower who used to keep a small boatyard on the Potomac about fifteen miles below Washington, was, at the time I knew him late in his life, deeply exasperated at the condition of the river. "When I first came here," he would say, glowering at the turbid, greenish-brown water, "you could see a corpse in ten feet." The Captain's lament of nearly twenty years ago anticipated a far wider concern that was to come later.

All over the country more and more of the pressing problems and issues of all natural resources, not just of water, are coming to be those of quality rather than quantity. This is true not only of the United States, with which this book is primarily concerned, but also of most of the other countries that have reached an advanced stage of economic development. The growth of interest in quality has led to inauguration of large-scale federal efforts to maintain or improve the natural environment, and to many efforts toward the same end by state and local governments and private groups and individuals. The goals of healthfulness and beauty are, in fact, keystones in President Johnson's concept of the Great Society.

The change in emphasis has come quickly. As recently as 1951, when President Truman established the President's Materials Policy Commission, fears of natural resource scarcity were uppermost in the minds of most people.The Commission's main assignment was to inquire into whether there would be enough food and industrial raw materials at . . .

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