Conservation and Charity: Ways to Improve World Environment

The opinion-page column ``The Environment: White Man's Burden,'' Nov. 30, says that the way to improve the world's environment is for wealthy nations to reduce consumption and share their wealth and technology with the poor. If wealthy nations do not adopt this strategy voluntarily, eventually conditions will deteriorate to the point where we have no other choice.

The first part of this strategy involves the conservation and efficient use of energy and materials. Unfortunately, many Americans are doing little or nothing to reduce the excessive consumption of fuels, electricity, water, or material goods. Economics and local pollution will eventually force us to do so, but at a far greater cost than if we begin to conserve in earnest today.

We must recognize that although the costs of energy and materials are currently low in this country, to squander these resources is not in our interest, our children's interest, or the interest of the world.

The second aspect of this strategy involves charity: the transfer of wealth and technology from the rich to the poor. This is a moral obligation, considering the destruction wealthy nations have inflicted on the world through exploitation, overconsumption, and pollution.

Morality aside, it is also in our own interest to aid the developing nations of the world. If we do not, the eventual repercussions will be war, economic calamities, human suffering, and environmental degradation which will surely lower the American standard of living along with the rest of the world's. P. Nubel, Naperville, Ill.

Regarding the opinion-page survey ``Americans Want to Save Energy,'' Nov. 30: It is tragic that we do not understand that an energy policy must be an instrument to reduce energy usage by all. Such a policy means that capital investment will have to be expended on such things as better insulation for homes, and construction of bikepahts, sidewalks and rapid transit systems.

Sometimes it takes a crisis to steer us in the direction of action - action that might not be as traumatic if we had planned for it. An energy policy must be effective in reducing future dependence on oil - particularly imported oil. We have made significant progress in working toward improved standards for fuel needs in the home, but we have far to go. Reiner Decher, Bellevue, Wash.

Has the US done a good job or a bad job conserving energy? In relation to the rest of the world, a good job. In relation to what can and should be done in the US, a poor job. We must be willing to suffer a bit of inconvenience to accomplish major improvements in energy conservation. Luck Gravett, Petaluma, Calif.

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