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At war with the planet; the environmental failure; prevention versus control; the cost of failure; redesigning the technosphere; preventing the trash crisis; population and poverty; envirnmental action; what can be done; making peace with the planet.
Barry Commoner (1917-2012) directed the Center for Biology of Natural Systems at Queens College and lives in Brooklyn. His previous books include Science and Survival, The Closing Circle, The Poverty of Power, and The Politics of Energy.
Commoner's environmentalism is guided by a simple precept: ``Preventing a disease is far more efficient than treating it.'' He argues that our misdirected, costly and ineffectual effort at environmental cleanup proves that ``controlling'' pollutants doesn't work--the pollutants must be eliminated from the production process itself, at the point of origin. To this end, he recommends, for starters, solar energy, ethanol fuel for cars, electric-powered autos, a massive recycling campaign, replacement of many petrochemical products by wood, cotton, paper and other ecologically sound materials. Commoner ( The Closing Circle ) recognizes that a massive redesign of our industrial, energy, transport and agricultural systems is a formidable task. It is also, he insists, the only way to reverse the suicidal assault on the planet waged by capitalist and socialist nations alike. Visionary yet specific, his urgent essay is a blueprint of our possible future and a beacon for the environmental struggles of the '90s. (Apr.)