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Earth Day Critic Misplaces Blame

April 29, 1990

Murray Weidenbaum makes one valid point in "Earth Day Celebration Avoids the Tough Issues," (April 8): Economics does have an important role to play in improving the environment.

His tactic of laying the blame at the feet of the American consumer has everything to do with an evident pro-business stance and little to do with reality. Weidenbaum cites some statistics about how few Americans buy recycled papers--as if there were a realistic choice. In fact, it is extremely hard to find recycled paper products. And it doesn't make much difference that most consumers don't use "degradable plastic garbage bags" because these bags, as well as biodegradable disposable diapers, do not significantly biodegrade.

Weidenbaum also makes fun of people, such as tree spikers, who cause damage to make a point. While many appropriately disagree with tree spiking as a tactic, Weidenbaum misses the point. First, spiking does not kill a tree. But cutting it down not only kills the tree, but all of the organisms that depend on the tree; deforestation silts up (and kills) waterways and causes other harmful effects.

Finally, the Earth Day celebration has a lot of functions, including to remind Americans that the environmental movement, and the need for it, lives and grows.

I could go on, but I'll save a tree by keeping this as short as possible.

GRETA L. KAPLAN

Los Angeles

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