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Government and business will be forced to spend ever increasing sumspossibly $10 billion to $20 billion a year, in Herman Kahn's estimateto control pollution of air and water and to prevent the destruction of natural beauty. Already, the young seem to be turning their protest to problems of the environment, organizing demonstrations against irresponsible corporations and municipalities. In the next few years, increasing attention will be paid to shoddy development and the infamous urban sprawl; it will be widely recognized that like most forms of pollution, defiling of the landscape, whether it be with shopping centers or expressways, is hard to reverse. In the interests of preserving their open spacesnot to mention domestic tranquilitysome nations may bar or limit tourism. International relations will certainly be affected by the cause of conservation, since neither air nor water pollution observes frontiers. Nations will discover that sovereignty can be threatened by pollutants just as much as by invasion. The wars of the future may be not over ground, but dirt.
Much more is involved than putting filters on chimneys and car exhausts and building new sewage plants. As the decade advances, it will become clear that if the ecological effort is to succeed, much of today's existing technology will have to be scrapped and something new developed in its place. The gasoline-powered automobile, at present the chief polluter of the air, will be made clean or it will be banned from many urban areasa threat that some carmakers already recognize (see ENVIRONMENT). Alternatives are electric or gas-turbine-powered autos. Increasingly, it will be seen that any kind of mass transportation, however powered, is more efficient than the family car. The Rand Corp.'s Stanley Greenfield, however, cynically argues that the revolt against the car may not take place until a thermal inversion, combined with a traffic jam out of Godard's Weekend, asphyxiates thousands on a freeway to nowhere. In addition, factories will have to be built as "closed systems," operated so that there is no waste; everything, in effect, that goes in one end must come out the other as a usable, non-polluting product. Man's own body wastes will have to find use as fertilizerthe cheapest and most efficient means of disposal. Planning will have to be a much greater concern.
Popular though the cause is, it is by no means clear that the struggle to save the environment will be won. The attitude, central to the modern mind, that all technology is good technology will have to be changed radically. "Our society is trained to accept all new technology as progress, or to look upon it as an aspect of fate," says George Wald, Harvard's Nobel-laureate biologist. "Should one do everything one can? The usual answer is 'Of course'; but the right answer is 'Of course not.' "
Some despair, and predict man will go on saying "Of course" foreveror as long as he can breathe his dirty air. French Anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss believes that pollution will grow worse, and that man will proceed with the wanton destruction of other living beings. Bertrand de Jouvenel adds: