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'Fragile Planet'

August 31, 1988

Your excellent editorial on the sickness of Spaceship Earth suggested the creation of a new "Bureau of Environmental Statistics."

Of course, but that's not the problem. We need a new Cabinet-level Department of the Environment headed by a secretary of the caliber of former Sen. Gaylord Nelson who can go to the White House and pound on the Oval Office table.

The head of a rinky-dink statistic-gathering "bureau" couldn't even get in the back door at 1600 Pennsylvania. There is a world crisis of staggering proportions in ozone destruction, deforestation, acid rain, "greenhouse" warming, extinction of thousands of species of plants and animals every year and now widespread poisoning of the oceans. Our national security is involved. The very future of the planet is at stake.

The environmental movement is a strong, influential force in Washington but it is too focused on back-yard, traditional issues of conservation and wilderness instead of demanding structural power changes in Congress and the Administration which will ensure aggressive, integrated policy approaches to attacking both domestic and international environmental issues.

If the Veterans Administration can be elevated to Cabinet-level status then surely the environment and its myriad problems now being dealt with in 20 or 30 scattered agencies in almost every department of government deserve the same kind of attention.

As you said "the cost of failure is unthinkable." Michael Dukakis and George Bush should start thinking and talking about that "unthinkable."


Pacific Palisades

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