Pollution Technology

January 6, 1971

Report Outline
Status of Pollution-Control Technology
Advances in Environmental Protection
Economics of Pollution Technology
Special Focus

Status of Pollution-Control Technology

The emergence of environmental pollution as everybody's issue may be a victory for those foresighted scientists and conservationists whose warnings of impending crisis went unheeded for so many years. But winning popular support for an all-out attack on pollution is but the bare beginning of a solution. A big question is how to go about doing the job. And here the experts often do not agree. An even bigger question is how much people are willing to pay to restore their damaged earth, air, and waterways, and to prevent further depredations. Pay means not only money, which will run into many billions of dollars, but possibly the sacrifice of conveniences and luxuries so familiar as to seem necessities to most Americans.

To date, pleas for a cutback of consumption in the interests of environmental protection have won few converts. It is true that some housewives take their grocery bags and egg boxes back to the supermarket for re-use, and here and there conservation zealots ride bicycles instead of drive cars. But these symbolic gestures do not make a perceptible dent in the pollution problem. The load, in fact, has been growing. Air pollution alone has increased over the past four years from an annual outpouring of 142 million tons of pollutants to more than 200 million. Solid wastes cast off by U.S. municipalities and industries now add up to 360 million tons a year; the total is estimated at 3.5 billion if wastes from agriculture, mining and fossil fuel production are included.

Obviously the solution, at this stage at least, is not being sought in sacrifice. When it is cold, householders will turn up the heat regardless of noxious emissions from power plants; and few couples today deny themselves a baby for the sake of population control. Elaborate packaging and throwaway cans have become luxuries not easily given up. Americans typically look to experts rather than abstinence. Technology made the mess, the prevailing view proclaims, so let technology clean it up. The catch is that clean-up technology must be at an acceptable price. The engineering problems, therefore, are closely tied to the economics of pollution control.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Environmental Protection
Mar. 17, 2023  Forever Chemicals
Sep. 02, 2022  Preserving the Seas
Jun. 17, 2022  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 17, 2021  Endangered Species
Nov. 06, 2020  Preventing Wildfires
Jul. 10, 2020  Circular Economy
Nov. 29, 2019  Climate Change and Health
Sep. 20, 2019  Extreme Weather
Dec. 07, 2018  Plastic Pollution
Dec. 02, 2016  Arctic Development
Apr. 22, 2016  Managing Western Lands
Jul. 18, 2014  Regulating Toxic Chemicals
Sep. 20, 2013  Future of the Arctic
Jun. 14, 2013  Climate Change
Nov. 06, 2012  Vanishing Biodiversity
Nov. 02, 2012  Managing Wildfires
Nov. 04, 2011  Managing Public Lands
Aug. 26, 2011  Gulf Coast Restoration
Jul. 2010  Plastic Pollution
Feb. 2010  Climate Change
Jan. 09, 2009  Confronting Warming
Dec. 05, 2008  Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
Nov. 2008  Carbon Trading
Oct. 03, 2008  Protecting Wetlands
Feb. 29, 2008  Buying Green
Dec. 14, 2007  Future of Recycling
Nov. 30, 2007  Disappearing Species
Feb. 2007  Curbing Climate Change
Dec. 01, 2006  The New Environmentalism
Jan. 27, 2006  Climate Change
Oct. 25, 2002  Bush and the Environment
Oct. 05, 2001  Invasive Species
Nov. 05, 1999  Saving Open Spaces
Jun. 11, 1999  Saving the Rain Forests
May 21, 1999  Setting Environmental Priorities
Mar. 19, 1999  Partisan Politics
Oct. 16, 1998  National Forests
Jun. 19, 1998  Environmental Justice
Aug. 23, 1996  Cleaning Up Hazardous Wastes
Mar. 31, 1995  Environmental Movement at 25
Jun. 19, 1992  Lead Poisoning
May 15, 1992  Jobs Vs. Environment
Jan. 17, 1992  Oil Spills
Sep. 20, 1991  Saving the Forests
Apr. 26, 1991  Electromagnetic Fields: Are They Dangerous?
Sep. 08, 1989  Free Market Environmental Protection
Dec. 09, 1988  Setting Environmental Priorities
Jul. 29, 1988  Living with Hazardous Wastes
Dec. 20, 1985  Requiem for Rain Forests?
Aug. 17, 1984  Protecting the Wilderness
Jun. 15, 1984  Troubled Ocean Fisheries
Aug. 19, 1983  America's Disappearing Wetlands
Feb. 22, 1980  Noise Control
Nov. 16, 1979  Closing the Environmental Decade
Oct. 13, 1978  Toxic Substance Control
Feb. 27, 1976  Pollution Control: Costs and Benefits
Nov. 28, 1975  Forest Policy
May 30, 1975  Wilderness Preservation
Dec. 20, 1974  Environmental Policy
Nov. 14, 1973  Strip Mining
Dec. 01, 1971  Global Pollution
Jul. 21, 1971  Protection of the Countryside
Jan. 06, 1971  Pollution Technology
Jun. 19, 1968  Protection of the Environment
Oct. 30, 1963  Noise Suppression
Air Pollution
Economic Analyses, Forecasts, and Statistics
Science and Politics
Water Pollution