Energy, the Environment, and Public Policy: Issues for the 1990s

By David L. McKee | Go to book overview

15 Some Final Reflections

DAVID L. MCKEE

Although many of the contributions to the present volume highlight concerns with respect to energy and the environment as they pertain to the United States, it seems clear that most such issues transcend the boundaries of any one nation. Clement Tisdell speaks of environmental challenges of a global type that have never been faced before (Chapter 2). While seeming optimistic about the progress that has been made in pollution control within national boundaries, he recognizes that all could be lost beyond those boundaries. He points to the necessity for generating "effective, workable, and acceptable means for the international governance of global pollution and environmental degradation" (Chapter 2).

Of course it may seem at first glance that in a world in which individual nations have done well or at least acceptably on the matters at hand there may be little need for international initiatives. However this may be a case where the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. Even in a world where pollution and other forms of degradation may be at acceptable levels within most nations, problems of a global nature may build up -- witness the matter of the ozone layer or presumptions about global warming, for example.

From a global perspective, the adherence of most nations to acceptable patterns of behavior toward the environment may be insufficient in some circumstances. It may not take many jurisdictions following irresponsible behavior patterns with respect to nuclear facilities or the disposal of wastes from such facilities to impact the global system. Nuclear waste is already a problem in some nations. The same can be said of the logistics of decommissioning and dismantling aging nuclear facilities as M. J. Pasqualetti has attested to earlier in this volume (Chapter 11).

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