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ENERGY VS. THE ENVIRONMENT (CONT.)
None but the immature or the professional daredevil deliberately seeks risk, but some risk cannot be avoided. We must move ahead to utilize available resources and proven technology—our coal and nuclear capabilities are present examples. We know more about the hazards of such energy, and how to handle those hazards, than we did about oil when we first began to use that fuel a century ago. But it seems even minimal risk is unacceptable today.
Zealous pursuit of a risk-free society—panic flight from any risk-taking at all—points the way to absurdity. Common sense and reason must prevail. Common sense and reason can provide an environmental and energy balance that puts risk in perspective—that again makes it America's ally rather than America's enemy.
The American public must ultimately decide what risks it is willing to accept in achieving any of its goals, including those in the energy realm. Through its elected representatives, the public must insist that adequate safeguards be a part of any program that seeks to speed up energy development. This includes the ultimate safeguard: the rule of law, not of men.
On the other hand, SI makes no mention of the risks involved in having too little energy. Since SI comes at the problem from an essentially middle-class perspective, this is not surprising. Members of the urban middle class would have little difficulty conserving a large part of the energy they now consume so lavishly. The same is not true of the urban poor, whose goals include achieving better standards of living, not stretching what little they have still further. They don't see conservation as the way out of their predicament.
President Carter's 1977 energy message made conservation its keystone. Congress savaged that program, which led in part to the dilemma we now face. His recent message recognized the realities of supply and demand and attempted to deal with them constructively. Congress—and SI—should do the same.
The point is, President Carter's emphasis on synthetic fuels drastically threatens the one resource the Western states have precious little of—water. The tremendous quantities of water needed in the fuel-conversion process and the problem of disposing of the sludge and toxic chemical by-products of that process should be of grave concern to all of us.
But of more concern is the President's lack of concern. Without environmental safeguards, our water and our future are in deep trouble. My congratulations to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED for its forthright stand.