Environmental cooperation

I am writing in regard to the article ``Hostile neighbors find common ground in fighting pollution,'' Nov. 18. I am in full agreement with this informative article and its positive treatment of East-bloc nations facing up to environmental problems. I applaud the author for bringing out some problems the East bloc faces concerning the environment.

It would be unimaginable that any issue involving the East and West could ever exist without friction. However, the writer finds a way to resolve this with some optimism by saying, ``Goodwill and self-interest should eventually overcome such obstacles.''

Former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and present leader Mikhail Gorbachev both have expressed the idea that environmental issues encourage cooperation between the East and West. This fact reinforces the idea that cooperation on something common to all could prove to be an important step in the right direction on a larger scale.

The most discouraging point concerned the Reagan administration's fear of multilateral commitments. This kind of politics makes one wonder how the United States could expect other nations to cooperate in such areas.

As a student of international relations and a citizen of the world, I found this article encouraging in today's troubled times. I was pleased to read that bilateral environmental pacts are becoming commonplace and that over the past 10 years the environment is the area that has seen the most progress.

I hope cooperation concerning this kind of problem can foster a better understanding of more crucial problems facing both the East and West. Shirley Seal Florence, Ala.

Having just completed a doctoral dissertation on Soviet perceptions of global ecological problems, I could not agree more with this article's conclusion that East-West progress on environmental cooperation is substantial. Unfortunately, the knowledge of this progress is kept fairly effectively under wraps. Soviet journal articles on the implications of ecological problems for East-West cooperation are systematically left untranslated by the US government's Joint Publications Research Service.

By the same token, the most vigorous Soviet statements extolling these benefits have largely appeared, at least in the pre-Gorbachev era, in specialized journals that are limited to a more or less privileged audience.

There is evidence, however, that in the months since the nuclear accident in Chernobyl, the Soviet leadership is publicizing these benefits more widely.

If the tension between the enforced political impermeability of national borders and the irresistible movement of natural phenomena has not yet been satisfactorily resolved in favor of the biosphere, there is evidence that the knowledge that such tension exists is percolating in official Soviet circles. Knowledge of that tension should be promoted vigorously in both the Soviet Union and the US, along with frequent recitations of the extent and promise of East-West ecological cooperation. B. W. Hall Political Science Dept. Earlham College Richmond, Ind.

For some time I have been intending to express to the Monitor my appreciation for the responsibility shown in the nature and scope of its news coverage in general. In particular, though, I should like to focus my remarks on the outstanding importance ascribed to environmental concerns.

This, of course, in view of the fundamental importance of the material, is exactly as it should be. In my view, it is a sad commentary on the human race that such a word as ``environmentalist'' either exists or can be conceived, or that ``activist'' ever needed to be appended to it. It is a constant and often discouraging battle for any alert and aware person to cope with all the facets of decadence and destruction of present society. But it is greatly reassuring that while most major newspapers are either too arrogant or too commercial to devote the attention equal to the gravity of the environmental problem, the Monitor consistently features major articles on this subject.

The Nov. 12 issue is certainly a case in point: It contains five articles on environmental issues. This responsible weighing of values in printing the news is one of the most important reasons for my continuing subscription to this great newspaper. Kenneth Sickil Cary, Ill.

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