From nagging concerns about natural habitats and air and water quality to new worries about nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Thousands of aging dams should be repaired or destroyed, at a cost of billions. A cap-and-trade policy could speed the process and help pay the bills. California is the world’s eighth largest economy and generates 13% of U.S. wealth. Yet Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says high temperatures, low rainfall, and a growing population have created a water crisis there. A third of the state is in extreme drought and, if there’s another dry season, faces catastrophe. The governor fears that his economy could collapse without a .9 billion program to build more dams.
During the past four decades, many of us have come to terms with an increasing realization that there may be a limit to what we as a species can plan or accomplish. The U.S. failure to protect against and respond to Hurricane Katrina in the summer of 2005 and the apparent futility of the plan to democratize and modernize Iraq provide particularly painful evidence that we seem to be operating beyond our ability to plan and implement effectively, or even to identify conditions where action is needed and can succeed.
The Bureau of Land Management must start taking its conservation mandate seriously. Once considered the leftovers of Western settlement and land grabs, the 261 million acres of deserts, forests, river valleys, mountains, and canyons managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are now in hot demand. Pressure to open more of these lands for oil and gas drilling has never been greater. Traditional uses of BLM lands, including logging, livestock grazing, and mining, continue. At the same time, expanding cities and suburbs juxtapose populations beside BLM lands as never before, and new technologies such as all-terrain vehicles make once-remote BLM lands widely accessible. Increasingly, the distinctive Western landscapes of BLM lands are a magnet for all who prize outdoor recreation—from hikers to off-road vehicle enthusiasts, from birdwatchers to hunters.
Expanding aquaculture into federal waters should not be promoted without enforceable national guidelines for the protection of marine ecosystems and fisheries. Because of continued human pressure on ocean fisheries and ecosystems, aquaculture has become one of the most promising avenues for increasing marine fish production. During the past decade, worldwide aquaculture production of salmon, shrimp, tuna, cod, and other marine species has grown by 10% annually; its value, by 7% annually. These rates will likely persist and even rise in the coming decades because of advances in aquaculture technology and an increasing demand for fish and shellfish. Although aquaculture has the potential to relieve pressure on ocean fisheries, it can also threaten marine ecosystems and wild fish populations through the introduction of exotic species and pathogens, effluent discharge, the use of wild fish to feed farmed fish, and habitat destruction. If the aquaculture industry does not shift to a sustainable path soon, the environmental damage produced by intensive crop and livestock production on land could be repeated in fish farming at sea.
The work has begun, but we have yet to determine what works best. Between 1973 and 1998, U.S. fresh waters and rivers were getting cleaner. But that trend has reversed. If the reverse continues, U.S. rivers will be as dirty in 2016 as they were in the mid-1970s. Water quality is not the only problem. In parts of the United States, the extraction of surface water and groundwater is so extreme that some major rivers no longer flow to the sea year round, and water shortages in local communities are a reality.
Political debates about taxes usually deal with the question of how much to tax. But an equally important question is what to tax. Current events may encourage policymakers to examine both questions more closely. The Bush administration has called for federal tax reform and appointed an advisory panel to develop recommendations. Because the administration has stipulated that any reform must be “revenue-neutral,” there will be a need for a suite of revenue enhancements to counterbalance any tax reductions, such as the elimination of the alternative minimum tax. In addition, the nation is experiencing chronic budget deficits that likely will continue, especially as baby boomers begin to retire and collect Social Security and Medicare benefits, and thus necessity will fuel the search for new revenue sources. There is one possible source, largely overlooked, that can help to fill the nation’s coffers and achieve other socially desirable goals in the process.
The history of federal initiatives in IPM has been one of redefining the mission rather than accomplishing it. The original intent of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was the coordinated use of multiple tactics for managing all classes of pests in an ecologically and economically sound way. Pesticides were to be applied only as needed, and decisions to treat were to be based on regular monitoring of pest populations and natural enemies (or antagonists) of pests in the target system. The use of a wide range of compatible or nondisruptive practices, such as resistant crop varieties and selective pesticides that preserve antagonists of pests, would ultimately lead to reduced reliance on chemical pesticides.
Government and industry should be working to identify and manage possible health and environmental risks before new products are widely used. Nanotechnology—the design and manipulation of materials at the molecular and atomic scale—has great potential to deliver environmental as well as other benefits. The novel properties that emerge as materials reach the nanoscale (changes in surface chemistry, reactivity, electrical conductivity, and other properties) open the door to innovations in cleaner energy production, energy efficiency, water treatment, environmental remediation, and “lightweighting” of materials, among other applications, that provide direct environmental improvements.
The pursuit of an integrated action plan, including regulatory reform, will help the United States and the world reap enormous benefits that now are thwarted. The application of recombinant DNA technology, or gene splicing, to agriculture and food production, once highly touted as having huge public health and commercial potential, has been paradoxically disappointing. Although the gains in scientific knowledge have been stunning, commercial returns from two decades of R&D have been meager. Although the cultivation of recombinant DNA-modified crops, first introduced in 1995, now exceeds 100 million acres, and such crops are grown by 7 million farmers in 18 countries, their total cultivation remains but a small fraction of what is possible. Moreover, fully 99 percent of the crops are grown in only six countries—the United States, Argentina, Canada, Brazil, China, and South Africa—and virtually all the worldwide acreage is devoted to only four commodity crops: soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola.
Immediate action is needed to turn the tide in favor of sustainability, but more fundamental changes are essential as well. Marine species residing in U.S. territorial waters and the men and women who make their livelihood from them are at a critical juncture. Many species are overexploited and face additional threats from land-based pollution, habitat damage, and climate change. The U.S. government agency in charge of fishery management, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), reports that of the 259 major fish species, 43 have population levels below their biological targets and another 41 are being fished too hard. Still unknown is the extent to which our actions affect the nature of food webs and ecosystems, with consequences yet to be determined.
Two major commissions have proposed far-reaching reform of ocean policy. It’s time for Congress to act. The oceans have been suffering from a variety of escalating insults for decades: excessive and destructive fishing; loss of wetlands and other valuable habitat; pollution from industries, farms, and households; invasion of troublesome species of fish and aquatic plants, and other problems. In addition, climate and atmospheric changes, which many scientists link to the combustion of fossil fuels and other human activities, are melting sea ice, changing ocean pH, stressing corals, killing plankton that are vital to the marine food web, increasing coastal erosion, and threatening to disrupt Earth’s temperatures in ways that will alter weather and deplete ocean life. The pervasiveness of these problems finally began to be recognized in the 1990s, symbolized by the United Nations’ declaration of 1998 as the Year of the Oceans and the holding of a National Ocean Conference that same year in Monterey, California, with the president and vice president in attendance. Yet the severity of these problems remains generally underappreciated, as reflected in the inadequate and increasingly out-of- date policy responses of the U.S. and other governments.
An overhaul of forest policy is needed to deal with the economic and environmental consequences of globalized production. For the past 100 years, U.S. forest policy has been guided by the assumption that the United States faced an ever-increasing scarcity of timber. Indeed, at times during the 20th century, there were fears of an impending timber famine. Policymakers responded accordingly, taking actions such as subsidizing reforestation, creating the national forests, and protecting forests from fires.
The preservation of ecosystem health must become an explicit goal of water development and management. The odds do not look good for the future of the planet's rivers. As populations and economies grow against a finite supply of water, many previously untapped rivers are being targeted for new dams and diversions, and already-developed rivers are coming under increased pressure. A number of major rivers, including the Colorado, the Indus, and the Yellow, are already so overtapped that they dry up before reaching the sea. Meanwhile, India is proposing to link all 37 of its major rivers in a massive water supply scheme, Spain plans to build 120 dams in the Ebro River basin, and China intends to transfer water from the Yangtze River north to the overstressed Yellow River basin. In the United States, a project has been proposed in Colorado in which a pipeline would capture Colorado River water at the state's western boundary and move it eastward across the Continental Divide to the growing metropolitan areas of the Colorado Front Range.
More data collection and analysis would greatly enhance our ability to set policy and measure its effectiveness. In 2003, Rep. Doug Ose (R-Calif.) proposed the Department of Environmental Protection Act, which would elevate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a cabinet department and create within it a Bureau of Environmental Statistics (BES). Although cabinet status for the EPA may have symbolic or organizational advantages, the creation of a BES could prove to be the most meaningful portion of the bill, as well as an important development for future environmental policymaking.
The issues of concern to critics are far more complex than advocates care to admit; it's time for a more far-ranging discussion. The debate over biotechnology seems to get ever more intractable, its costs higher, the disputants angrier. Europe is on the verge of requiring the tracking of all genetically modified (GM) food from farm to grocery store, despite strenuous opposition from the United States. Zimbabwe has rejected emergency food relief that contained unmilled GM corn. Germplasm used in agricultural R&D used to move freely among countries, but the flow has slowed to a trickle as developing countries rich in biodiversity restrict exports of wild plants, hoping to share in the profits from their hidden genes. With so much at stake, one would expect every issue in this arena to be exhaustively examined, argued, rebutted, and negotiated. But what is striking is how little actual debate there really is. There is conflict, but no engagement. Why? What keeps the debate a take-no-prisoners war rather than a spirited rational discussion?
Government must acknowledge the magnitude of the crisis and fully engage the scientific and conservation communities in efforts to solve it. America's coral reefs are in trouble. From the disease-ridden dying reefs of the Florida Keys, to the overfished and denuded reefs of Hawaii and the Virgin Islands, this country's richest and most valued marine environment continues to decline in size, health, and productivity.
Nonpoint pollution, not oil spills, is the largest source, and reducing it will require coordinated efforts on a number of fronts. “When it rains, it pours”—or so a motorist caught in a sudden storm might think while sliding into another vehicle. It is not merely the reduced visibility and the frenetic behavior of drivers in the rain that foster such mishaps; the streets also are slicker just after the rain begins to fall. Why? Because the oil and grease that are dripped, spewed, or otherwise inadvertently deposited by motor vehicles onto roadways are among the first materials to be lifted off by the rain, thereby literally lubricating the surface. Nor do matters end with making life miserable for motorists. The oil and grease washed off roads will most likely run into storm sewers and be discharged into the nearest body of water. From there, the oily materials often are carried to the sea, where they can cause a host of environmental problems.
A comprehensive policy should consider all aspects of wildfire management, not just fuels and fire suppression. Large, intense forest fires, along with their causes and their consequences, have become important political and social issues. In the United States, however, there is no comprehensive policy to deal with fire and fuels and few indications that such a policy is in development.
My 1985 Issues article was among the first to document and assess the problem of biodiversity in the context of public policy. It was intended to bring the extinction crisis to the attention of environmental policymakers, whose focus theretofore had been almost entirely on pollution and other problems of the physical environment. Several factors contributed to this disproportion: Physical events are simpler than biological ones, they are easier to measure, and they are more transparently relevant to human health. No senator's spouse, it had been said, ever died of a species extinction.
New studies continue to chronicle how overfishing and poor management have severely hurt the U.S. commercial fishing industry. Thus, it makes sense to examine the effectiveness of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, which overhauled federal legislation guiding fisheries management. At the time, I predicted that, if properly implemented, the act would do much to bolster recovery and sustainable management of the nation's fisheries. Today, I see some encouraging signs but still overall a mixed picture.
Superfund, one of the main programs used by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up serious, often abandoned, hazardous waste sites, has been improved considerably in recent years. Notably, progress has been made in two important areas: the development of risk assessments that are scientifically valid yet flexible, and the development and implementation of better treatment technologies.
Society is all too committed to the notion of "progress" as measured through economic growth and population expansion. The notion of working toward a "sustainable future" is not given much serious thought. Energy policy, for example, concentrates on expanding supply, with relatively little R&D being devoted to improving the efficiency of energy use or developing low-carbon fuels. Yet without a change in course, human activities are destined to further degrade the global environment.
Federal law must be updated to stop introductions of nonnative organisms, especially by ships. Voracious snakehead fish from China crawl out of a Maryland pond, while 100-pound Asian carp smash into recreational boats on the Mississippi River. Armies of alien rats, numbering in the millions and weighing up to 20 pounds, raze wetland vegetation in Louisiana. Softball-sized snails called Rapa whelks silently devour any and all Chesapeake Bay shellfish in their paths. The images would be comic if they were not real. Instead, they have helped to convince Congress that the threat to the U.S. economy and environment from these and other nonnative species is enormous and that the federal government should get serious about keeping them out.
No, some policies produce more undesirable economic side effects, and some disproportionately harm the poor. Economists have long advocated using the market to achieve environmental objectives. Possible policies include taxes on waste emissions and programs through which the government limits pollution by issuing emission permits that can be traded among companies. Unlike "command and control" regulations that specify which technology companies must use, market approaches such as these allow companies flexibility to choose their own ways to reduce pollution at lowest cost.
The resources to respond to harmful invasions should come from fees charged to those involved in global trade and travel. The introduction of harmful, non-native, invasive species--terrestrial and aquatic--has received heightened recognition because of the threats this form of "biological pollution" poses to ecosystem health, endangered species, economic interests, and even public health. Much of the incalculably valuable native biological diversity of North America eventually could be virtually replaced by aggressive invaders, as already has occurred across large areas of Hawaii and other vulnerable islands. Nevertheless, government funding for responding to this threat remains woefully inadequate. And despite the widespread and massive effects of invasive species, the industries that cause the majority of the problems have resisted tougher policies.
The excessive "mining" of our aquifers is causing environmental degradation on a potentially enormous scale. The next time you reach for a bottle of spring water, consider that it may have come from a well that is drying up a blue-ribbon trout stream. The next time you dine at McDonald's, note that the fries are all the same length. That's because the farmers who grow the potatoes irrigate their fields, perhaps with groundwater from wells adjacent to nearby rivers. The next time you purchase gold jewelry, consider that it may have come from a mine that has pumped so much groundwater to be able to work the gold-bearing rock that 60 to 100 years will pass before the water table recovers. The next time you water your suburban lawn, pause to reflect on what that is doing to the nearby wetland. And the next time you visit Las Vegas and flip on the light in your hotel room, consider that the electricity may have come from a coal-fired power plant supplied by a slurry pipeline that uses groundwater critical to springs sacred to the Hopi people.
A rights-based system could help rebuild industry profits as well as fishing stocks. Most commercial fisheries in the United States suffer from overfishing or inefficient harvesting or both. As a result, hundreds of millions of dollars in potential income is lost to the fishing industry, fishing communities, and the general economy. Excessive fishing effort has also resulted in higher rates of unintentional bycatch mortality of nontargeted fish, seabirds, and marine mammals, and in more ecological damage than necessary to benthic organisms from trawls, dredges, and other fishing gear.
A new coordinating body is essential to the success of nonindigenous species prevention and management efforts. Introduced organisms are the second greatest cause, after habitat destruction, of species endangerment and extinction worldwide. In the United States, nonindigenous species do more than 0 billion a year in damage to agriculture, forests, rangelands, and fisheries, as estimated by Cornell University biologists. The invasions began in the 1620s with the inundation of New England and mid-Atlantic coastal communities by a wave of European rats, mice, insects, and aggressive weeds. Today, several thousand nonindigenous species are established in U.S. conservation areas, agricultural lands, and urban areas. And new potentially invasive species arrive every year. For example, the recently arrived West Nile virus now threatens North America's bird and human populations. In Texas, an exotic snail carries parasites that are spreading and infecting native fish populations. In the Gulf of Mexico, a rapidly growing Australian spotted jellyfish population is threatening commercially important species such as shrimp, menhaden, anchovies, and crabs. In south Florida, the government has conducted what the media calls a "chainsaw massacre, south Florida style": a 0-million effort to stop reintroduced citrus canker from spreading to central Florida by cutting thousands of citrus trees on private property.
Real differences exist between U.S. and European public opinion, but the foundation for a policy convergence is in place. Modern biotechnology is the fruit of a massive surge of knowledge about the structure and functioning of living entities that has taken place over the past few decades. The surge continues unabated with the sequencing of human and other genomes at ever-increasing speed and declining cost. The knowledge spreads around the globe--available, irreversible, pervasive, and subversive--its accessibility and influence amplified by the tools of informatics that have also advanced rapidly during this period. It presents opportunities to scientists, and it poses challenges to policymakers. It arrives, often uninvited, in the in-boxes of the ministries of research, industry, agriculture, environment, education, health, trade, and patents in countries rich or poor and makes its way onto the agendas of the international agencies.
New, more flexible approaches show great promise, but barriers remain. The new Bush administration has within its reach the tools to implement a new environmental agenda: one that will address serious problems beyond the reach of traditional regulatory programs and will reduce the costs of the nation's continuing environmental progress. Christine Todd Whitman could be the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator who will transform regulatory programs and the agency itself for the 21st century.
Expertise can be a critical force if it can keep ideology in check. Although President Bush made very few campaign promises about the role of science in public policymaking, observers say that the incoming administration will likely enhance the role of risk assessment and economic analysis in its decisionmaking at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In response to confirmation-related questions, EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman indicated that she would support the long-standing traditions of "precaution, science-based risk analysis, and sound risk management, including consideration of benefit/cost."
Environmental management systems can be a valuable complement to but not a substitute for traditional regulation. "We are ready to enter a new era of environmental policy," Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman announced during confirmation hearings in January 2001. Noting that the country had moved beyond "command and control mandates," Whitman pledged to emphasize cooperative approaches among regulators and business. Similarly, President George W. Bush believes that lawsuits and regulations are not always the best ways to improve environmental quality. As governor of Texas, he emphasized voluntary agreements with industry as an alternative to government mandates.
Global regulation should be guided by science, not unsubstantiated fears. These are difficult times for agricultural biotechnology. Outside the United States, there is widespread public and political opposition to importing grains grown from recombinant DNAengineered, or "gene-spliced," seeds. Governments have imposed moratoriums on commercial-scale cultivation of plants, and recombinant DNAderived foods have been banished by big supermarket chains. Vandalization of field trials by environmental activists is frequent and largely not being prosecuted. The once principally science-driven regulatory agencies of Western Europe are increasingly dominated by politically motivated bureaucrats who capitulate to the pressure of protectionism-minded business interests and hysterical activists.
As the world's largest importer of coral reef organisms, the United States has a major responsibility to promote nondestructive, sustainable harvesting practices. Coral reef ecosystems are a valuable source of food and income to coastal communities around the world. Yet destructive human activities have now put nearly 60 percent of the world's coral reefs in jeopardy, according to a 1998 World Resources Institute study. Pollution and sediments from agriculture and industry and overexploitation of fishery resources are the biggest problems, but the fragility of reef ecosystems means that even less damaging threats can no longer be ignored. Prominent among these is the harvest of coral, fish, and other organisms for the aquarium, jewelry, and curio trades, as well as live fish for restaurants. Much of the demand comes from the United States, which has made protecting coral reefs a top priority.
In Calculating Risks, James Hamilton and Kip Viscusi apply sophisticated statistical techniques to information on contaminated sites to try to evaluate the effectiveness of the nation's Superfund program. To accomplish this, they and a bevy of researchers waded through thousands of pages of site-specific documents developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a database of the risks and costs at 150 sites where the cleanup remedy was selected in 1991 or 1992. The goal of this mammoth research effort was to inform and influence the debate about reauthorizing Superfund, a debate that has been under way for years.
In the 1970s, environmentalism was not uncommonly castigated by leftists as a program of white upper-middle-class suburbanites largely concerned with preserving their own amenities and oblivious to the plight of the urban poor. Over the intervening years, however, the movement has significantly broadened its scope. For instance, under the rubric of environmental justice it has begun to address the issues of inner cities and working class Americans. Both Philip Shabecoff and William Shutkin applaud this expansion of concern but contend that it has not gone nearly far enough. Shabecoff's Earth Rising and Shutkin's The Land That Could Be argue for a major transformation of environmental politics, one that would highlight democratic procedures and grassroots participation and would focus attention on conserving communities and jobs as well as on preserving the natural world. Only such a reorientation, the authors contend, would allow environmentalism to fulfill its progressive promise of building a future that is both sustainable and just.
To advance conservation throughout the world, we must foster fairness and democracy based on sound principles and good science. Forging a tangible connection among environment, development, and welfare is a formidable challenge, given the complex global interactions and slow response times involved. The task is made all the harder by quickening change, including new ideas about conservation and how it can best be done. Present policies and practices, vested in government and rooted in a philosophy that regards humanity and nature as largely separate realms, do little to encourage public participation or to reinforce conservation through individual incentives and civil responsibility. The challenge will be to make conservation into a household want and duty. This will mean moving the focus of conservation away from central regulation and enforcement and toward greater emphasis on local collaboration based on fairness, opportunity, and responsibility. Given encouragement, such initiatives will help reduce extinction levels and the isolation of parks by expanding biodiversity conservation in human-dominated landscapes.
An international research effort to assess the health of the world's biological systems will provide a foundation for wise policymaking. Although the native fish of Lake Victoria in Africa have long supported a productive local fishery, several other species of fish were introduced during the 1900s in an attempt to increase production. Those introductions succeeded beyond expectations: The harvest grew dramatically and one of the nonnative species, Nile perch, now accounts for 80 percent of the catch. But was this really a success? Taking into account the side effects of these introductions on other features of the ecosystem, the unforeseen costs may outweigh the benefits. To begin with, the introduced species contributed to the devastation of the native fauna. More than half of the lake's 350 species of cichlid fish (80 percent of which are found nowhere else in the world) are now either extinct or have been reduced to populations that are only a fraction of their original size. In addition, pressure on the limited forest resources around the lake grew because fuelwood was needed to dry the oily Nile perch for transport and sale. That forest loss, combined with other land use changes, increased water pollution and lake siltation. This in turn led to an increased frequency and extent of eutrophic and anoxic conditions, which placed still more pressure on native species and may ultimately threaten the long-term productivity of the fishery.
Treating environmental improvement as a business will lead to greater returns and lower costs, for the environment as well as for the economy. To achieve a truly sustainable environment, we must recognize that environmental improvement and economic growth can and do go hand in hand--that environmental improvement is a market just like any other. Indeed, if environmental improvement is approached as a market, then many of its presumed conflicts with economic growth evaporate. For businesses, environmental improvement can provide lower costs and growing worldwide economic opportunity. For the public, it provides trillions of dollars worth of benefits, plus significant insurance against major disasters.
Despite three decades of research, there is very little "I" in IPM. It's time to start over with an achievable goal. In 1993, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a national commitment to implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on 75 percent of U. S. crop acreage by the year 2000. The next year, USDA announced its IPM Initiative to embrace this commitment. Seven years have passed, and farm practices have changed very little. Indeed, the only significant change is that we know less than what we thought we knew about what IPM is. Revisiting what we mean by IPM will help us understand what went wrong with the initiative.
Marine protected areas are urgently needed to stem the tide of marine biodiversity loss. The United States is the world's best-endowed maritime nation, its seas unparalleled in richness and biological diversity. The waters along its 150,000 kilometers of shoreline encompass virtually every type of marine habitat known and a profusion of marine species--some of great commercial value, others not. It is paradoxical, then, that the United States has done virtually nothing to conserve this great natural resource or to actively stem the decline of the oceans' health.
A comprehensive national strategy is crucial for reversing the rapidly accelerating decline in marine life. For centuries, humanity has seen the sea as an infinite source of food, a boundless sink for pollutants, and a tireless sustainer of coastal habitats. It isn't. Scientists have mounting evidence of rapidly accelerating declines in once-abundant populations of cod, haddock, flounder, and scores of other fish species, as well as mollusks, crustaceans, birds, and plants. They are alarmed at the rapid rate of destruction of coral reefs, estuaries, and wetlands and the sinister expansion of vast "dead zones" of water where life has been choked away. More and more, the harm to marine biodiversity can be traced not to natural events but to inadequate policies.
EPA's central challenge is to maintain rigorous national standards while providing the utmost flexibility to states, communities, and companies. The next big breakthrough in environmental management is likely to be a series of small breakthroughs. Capitol Hill may be paralyzed by a substantive and political impasse, but throughout the United States, state and local governments, businesses, community groups, private associations, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) itself are experimenting with new ways to achieve their goals for the environment. These experiments are diverse and largely uncoordinated, yet they illustrate a convergence of ideas from practitioners, think tanks, and academia about ways to improve environmental management.
Two billion people suffer from terrible nutrition. We need to start producing not just more food, but more nutritious food. Thanks in large part to the now-legendary green revolution, most people in the world today get enough calories from food for their subsistence. Yet it is becoming increasingly clear that the green revolution was not an overwhelming success. Although it helped increase the production of staple foods, it did so at the expense of overall nutritional adequacy. Today, large numbers of the world's people remain sick and weak because of terrible nutrition.
An army of invasive plant and animal species is overrunning the United States, causing incalcuable economic and ecological costs. To the untrained eye, Everglades National Park and nearby protected areas in Florida appear wild and natural. Yet within such public lands, foreign plant and animal species are rapidly degrading these unique ecosystems. Invasive exotic species destroy ecosystems as surely as chemical pollution or human population growth with associated development.
Scientific rigor and public participation can coexist peacefully only in the catalytic presence of trust and community. We live in a world of manifest promise and still more manifest fear, both inseparably linked to developments in science and technology. Our faith in technological progress is solidly grounded in a century of historical achievements. In just one generation, we have seen the space program roll back our geographical frontiers, just as the biological sciences have revolutionized our ability to manipulate the basic processes of life. At every turn of contemporary living we see material signs that we human beings have done very well for ourselves as a species and may soon be doing even better: computers and electronic mail, fax machines, bank cards, heart transplants, laser surgery, genetic screening, in vitro fertilization, and, of course, the siren song of Prozac--an ever-growing roster of human ingenuity that suggests that we can overcome, with a little bit of luck and effort, just about any imaginable constraints on our minds and bodies, except death itself.