The first ugly word on the subject was “pollution.” Next came “ecology,” and now we speak reverently of “the quality of life.” And, as the talkers talk, the images form: sparkling clean rivers and lakes, verdant hills, and blue skies, nothing but blue skies from now on. It is as if all this was a certain guarantor of happiness, prosperity, and freedom. The strategist knows better—and it is time for him to make himself heard.
The passion for a clean environment is not evenly spread. At the apex of concern, a handful of super-hygienic nations, led by the United States, scrub away at layers of old filth and guard against new accumulations by imposing restraints on individual, communal, and even military actions. At the base, a far greater number of nations will not let scare talk of health hazards and esthetic effrontery divert them from a single-minded devotion to development. Between the extremes, there are as many perceptions of the problem and commitments toward its solution as there are nations.