Barry Commoner: Pollution, affluence and class

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[Quotes and Insights #23]

Pioneer socialist ecologist Barry Commoner, author of The Closing Circle, speaking at Harvard University, during the first Earth Day, April 1970….

“The favorite statistic is that the U.S. contains 6 to 7% of the world population but consumes more than half the world’s resources and is responsible for that fraction of the total environmental pollution. But this statistic hides another vital fact: that not everyone in the U.S. is so affluent.

“For that reason the simple test of the slogan ‘Consume Less’ as a basis for social action on the environment would be to tell it to the blacks in the ghetto. The message will not be very well received for there are many people in this country who consume less than is needed to sustain a decent life.”