Environmental quality, resources threatened by failing economy
by Dr. William L. Pierce
DURING 1981 the real spendable earnings of the average American wage earner fell another 3.3 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington announced on January 22. Of all the economic statistics monitored by the government — consumer price index, average hourly wages, etc. — the real spendable earnings figure is the one which is tied most directly to the average standard of living. It is the amount of real money (i.e., money adjusted for inflation) a wage earner has left to spend after taxes. (ILLUSTRATION: A satellite image of the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" that has expanded to twice the size of the continental United States. It is mostly made up plastic, the inevitable consequence of growing populations and unchecked mass production. This waste, what is left over from largely needless items used by an increasingly degenerate and low quality population, is thrown away with no sense of responsibility for the consequences.)
When we consider non-economic factors, however, we must anticipate a much worse decline in the American living standard than indicated by the falling figure for real spendable earnings.
The crime rate is an example of a non-economic factor which has a strong effect on the standard of living — or quality of life — of the average American. Each year the average U.S. citizen’s chances of being murdered, raped, robbed, or burgled increase. That costs everyone money, whether he is a crime victim or not, in higher taxes for police protection and in higher insurance rates. The non-monetary costs, though, are far higher, as fear of crime increasingly hedges in the average American’s life and restricts his activities.
Disease is another example. Until quite recently, the United States could boast one of the lowest disease rates in the world, with the rate for most infectious diseases continuing to fall each year. Many dread afflictions common in other parts of the world had been virtually eradicated here. This was one of the benefits of an enormous investment over the years in sanitation, inoculation drives, and other public health programs.
But now this benefit has begun to evaporate, largely as the consequence of an unchecked flow of non-White immigrants into the country. The tuberculosis rate in Los Angeles County was up 30 percent in 1981 over 1980, and similar increases were reported in other major metropolitan areas, resulting in a net increase in the tuberculosis rate for the entire country. Syphilis, leprosy, and other diseases associated especially with immigrants have also become much more common in recent years.
Extrapolating a few trends which, unlike the above, have not been much in the news recently gives us an even grimmer picture of what is happening to our world. Consider the American farm. It has been one of the nation’s greatest successes, producing more food per acre and per man-hour than has been accomplished on anywhere near as large a scale anywhere else in the world.
This success, however, has had a cost. The extremely high yields of American agriculture have been the result of a very intensive approach to farming, depending on a complex industrial infrastructure. Without a dependable supply of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the ready use of a vast rail and road transportation network, such intensive farming would not be possible.
The danger in such dependence is that it is susceptible to catastrophic disruption. A major breakdown in the transportation network, for example, would very quickly cause widespread starvation in many of the nation’s heavily urbanized areas. America long ago lost its regional self-sufficiency in agriculture, and most of the Northeast now imports more than 70 percent of its food from other states.
Another cost of America’s intensive approach to farming is overuse of the best land, and its consequent loss. The trend in recent years has been to produce more and more food from less and less land, as urban encroachment on farmland and topsoil loss from erosion have reduced the acreage under cultivation. A growing population is causing an acceleration of this process, which means a continually increasing dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
The higher costs of food production associated with the greater use of fertilizers is also accelerating the trend away from small, family-owned farms toward giant agribusiness farming, because of the greater efficiency of very large farms. This in turn results in even less regional self-sufficiency and a greater dependence on the transportation network.
The United States is still able to produce more food than it consumes — about $40 billion worth was exported last year — but it is clear that the present trend toward more food from less land cannot continue indefinitely. There is a lack of general agreement as to when the crunch will come, but ecologists and agricultural experts are becoming increasingly concerned.
Lester Brown, head of the Worldwatch Institute, warns that the doubling of world food output since 1950 has been achieved only through severe land abuse. “Perhaps the most serious single threat humanity now faces is the widespread loss of topsoil,” he says in his new book, Building a Sustainable Society. Brown and others believe that the continuing loss of productive farmland in the United States could trigger food shortages before the end of this decade which would have a far greater impact on the population than the oil shortage of the 1970s.
Topsoil, of course, is only one of America’s natural resources being squeezed by a growing population. Fossil fuel is another, and the squeeze is leading inevitably toward the use of lower grades of coal and oil, which produce large amounts of air pollution.
For most of the last two decades the environmental lobby has been successful in forcing the Congress to enact laws to reduce pollution of air and water, protect wildlife, and prevent commercial exploitation or development harmful to America’s forests, marshlands, and other natural areas. It is now quite likely that everything which has so far been accomplished in the way of environmental protection will be undone in the 1980s.
One of the reasons for this setback is the philosophy of the supporters of the Reagan administration, typified by Secretary of the Interior James Watt, who seems to believe that it is sinful to leave trees uncut, fur-bearing mammals unskinned, or high-sulfur coal unburned, so long as there is money to be made for someone by exploiting these resources.
Reagan supporters are staunch advocates of growth at any cost, who see the value of everything in what it can be sold for. Many of them are incapable of even understanding why anyone would want to stop them from killing bobcats and raccoons, cutting down redwoods, paving over meadows, or saving a little money by dumping toxic wastes into the nearest stream.
Growth advocates are great optimists when it comes to the question of the depletion of natural resources, whether farmland, fossil fuel, or essential metal ores. They point out, quite correctly, that science has always been able to show us new ways to obtain greater utilization from old resources or has found new substitutes when old resources were finally exhausted.
What they tend to ignore are the additional costs involved when one is obliged to switch from easily obtainable, high quality resources to scarcer resources or to those of lower quality. One of these additional costs Americans will soon be paying is more air pollution, caused by a move to dirtier fuels.
Unfortunately, however, it is not just the Republican-capitalist types in the population who are responsible for what is being done to America’s environment and natural resources. The average citizen, when it comes to saving a tree or saving a dollar, all too often chooses the dollar — especially when he is worried about his supply of dollars, which inevitably will be the case even more in the future than it has been in the past.
As real spendable earnings continue to fall, protecting the environment will seem like an unaffordable luxury to more and more people, regardless of whether there is a Republican or a Democrat in the White House.
Depressing and frightening as are these economic and environmental prospects, they are all overshadowed by the racial prospect. There are few large cities left in the United States which have not witnessed a dramatic increase in non-White population since the Second World War. Most communities have not experienced Washington’s change from a three-quarters White city in 1940 to a three-quarters Black city today, or Miami’s change from 4 percent Hispanic to 40 percent Hispanic during the past 30 years (with a corresponding White drop from 83 percent to 44 percent), but the trend is the same everywhere: more Blacks, more Hispanics, more Asiatics, more Levantines.
Even were it not for the hundreds of thousands of these non-Whites coming into the country each year as legal immigrants or “refugees” and the estimated one million slipping in illegally, their prodigious birth rates — nearly twice the White birth rate, in the case of Hispanics — must inevitably lead to an environment which is more and more non-White.
Fools may babble endlessly all the trendiest clichés — “cultural enrichment,” “racial justice,” and so on — but the fact remains that the population of the United States is becoming uglier, less intelligent, less creative, less self-reliant, and less capable of sustaining a civilization or even maintaining its own national existence as it grows less White.
Is not the destruction of America’s racial basis an even greater sin against Nature than the destruction of the country’s forests and wildlife and the poisoning of its air and water?
Is there any more terrible legacy we can leave to our descendants than a nation in which they are a minority, at the mercy of an irresponsible, incapable, and hostile mass of non-Whites?
The tragedy of what is happening to our world seems compounded by the knowledge that it need not happen: economic decline, environmental decline, and racial decline can all be reversed. But not unless those who wield the power in this country are at least able to face squarely and unblinkingly the causes of what is happening and have the will to tackle those causes.
Mr. Reagan and the other politicians certainly want to halt the economic decline, but that’s about all that can be said for them. The condition of the environment is clearly of very little concern to them, and they dare not even acknowledge the fact of racial decline.
Can one expect a President who reacted in the shamefully abject way Mr. Reagan did to the minority-liberal criticism of his recent announcement on tax exemptions for White schools to show even the least bit of courage in dealing with racial issues?
And since the declining moral and racial quality of the American population lies at the root of the declining economy, the prospects are hardly bright for a long-term solution to the one problem Mr. Reagan does want to solve. Fiddling with Federal budgets cannot give us a more productive labor force. Talking about “supply side” economics cannot reduce the vast financial burden of crime and social services associated with the enormous growth in racial minorities in America.
What the politicians are doing to our world — economically, environmentally, and racially — cannot be halted until we have men in charge who are not afraid to ask the right questions and face the real problems.
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From Attack! No. 85, 1982, transcribed by Anthony Collins and edited by Vanessa Neubauer, from the book The Best of Attack! and National Vanguard, edited by Kevin Alfred Strom