National Geographic : 1970 Dec
up that matter of asking all the right ques tions. Had they all been asked before long lasting pesticides were put into use? "The side effects of something like DDT show up only after massive use," Dr. Du Bridge replied. "Similarly, the smog-creating qualities of automobiles weren't apparent until traffic had built up." I asked him what we could do to reduce the danger of unexpected side effects. "The new Council on Environmental Qual ity will help," he answered. "One of its func tions is technology assessment, environmental prediction. Whenever another government agency or an industry is working on a project that might affect the environment, the coun cil can demand a report on its actions and on the precautions it is taking. If the report is unsatisfactory, the council can insist on more comprehensive tests." But Dr. DuBridge added a cautioning note. "It will have to be a rational process. If re strictions on introducing new ideas became too rigid, they would tend to stop all research and development." Dr. DuBridge subscribes to the "no-free lunch" theory. "There seems to be a law of nature that every benefit that is introduced to improve our happiness, our welfare, or our security has a cost factor someplace. "Sometimes it's a dollar factor," he went on. "Sometimes it's an environmental factor. And that's the real job for human ingenuity today-to develop concepts that will let us measure the benefits against the risks." Mercury: Man's Helper and Poisoner All of us-including farmers, industrialists, and sewage-plant superintendents-want a clean and healthful world. Then why is our environment being polluted? It comes down to this: Engrossed in our 775 PAINTINGBY STAFFARTISTROBERTC. MAGIS© N.G.S .