Environment: The Price of Progress

What is the basic cause of the environmental crisis? The population explosion? Or modern technology? Most scientists are inclined to attribute ecological problems to a combination of the two. But in his provocative new book, The Closing Circle (Knopf; $6.95), Environmental Pioneer Barry Commoner places the blame squarely on technology.

Commoner, a biologist at Washington University in St. Louis, bases his thesis on the fact that "most pollution problems made their first appearance, or became very much worse, in the years following World War II." After 1946, he notes, the U.S. population rose by 42%, pollution by as much as 2,000%. Thus,...

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