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The tragedy of Our Polluted Planet!

YOU ARE PROBABLY breathing polluted air this very minute! If you aren't, you ought to be very thankful. You are in a blessed, and rapidly shrinking minority.

And when you took your first drink of water this morning, chances are, it, too, was far from fresh. To be sure, it had probably been "purified" and officially approved as "safe."

But did its chemical, medicinal taste make you wonder where it came from? Did you have uneasy thoughts about who might have used it just a few hours before — and for what purpose?


Your Food, Too

When you sat down to your first meal today, what did you eat? It is almost certain that you ate at least some polluted food — and probably a lot more than you think.

You may be the rare exception who lives in a place where there is fresh air and pure water, but you are very rare indeed if your diet consists entirely of unpolluted, wholesome food.

Chances are, if you eliminated from your diet the sprayed, artificially colored and waxed fruits and vegetables — the chemically enriched, refined, colored and preserved breads and cereals — the pasteurized, homogenized, fortified and preserved dairy products — and the meat and eggs which came from animals polluted with stilbestrol, hormones, drugs and abnormal high-gain feeds, you would have almost nothing left!

You may not have thought of some of these things as pollutants. But that is, nevertheless, what they are.

But you don't just breathe the air, drink the water and eat the food which some other person has befouled, besmirched and contaminated. You — whoever you are — directly or indirectly contribute to pollution.

Have you ridden in a car, bus or airplane today? Do you smoke? Do you work in a factory that belches noxious fumes into the air all day long? Or one that spews effluent into a stream?

These are but a few of the common ways that the average person living in a civilized country today contributes to pollution every single day. Pollution is simply a built-in part of our modern, Twentieth Century way of life! Today's "B.C." methods of waste disposal are just not geared to modern congestion and modern industry.

We are so used to living in today's polluted world that it is difficult for us to realize how bad it really is.


The Shocking Facts

In a dramatic message to both houses of Congress on January 30, President Johnson warned that the battle for clean air alone will be lost in TEN YEARS unless drastic measures are taken at once!

"We are not even controlling today's level of pollution," the President reported. "Ten years from now, when industrial and waste disposal have increased and the number of automobiles in our streets and highways exceeds 110 million we shall have lost the battle for clean air unless we strengthen our regulatory and research efforts now.

"There is much to be done," continued the President, and we are losing ground. The air and water grows heavier with the debris of our spectacular civilization. The domain of nature shrinks before the demands of commerce."

The same kind of warning came recently from Vice President Humphrey. Mr. Humphrey stressed that air pollution alone has now become so enormous a problem in the United States that no one government agency and no single private interest group can possibly cope with it.

At an air pollution conference attended by the Vice President, it was emphasized that 130 million tons of pollutants were spewed into the American air alone during 1966. If this airborne waste were to be put into cargo ships, it would require more than half of all the merchant vessels in the world to carry it! Of this vast amount approximately 85 million tons were attributable to automotive exhausts.


Survival at Stake

Other members of President Johnson's staff are also deeply concerned.

"Our continued survival" depends upon solving the problem of environmental pollution, Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall told the National Petroleum Council recently.

"This is a strong statement," Udall said. But, he added: ". . . we must restore our air and our water resources to some tolerable state of purity or we shall as a nation surely suffocate in our own effluvia."

The truth about the tragic pollution of our air, water and land is not pleasant to report. But you need to know what is really happening on our Polluted Planet — and what the future holds.

Many articles have been written on the subject of pollution. But they all, it seems, conclude with dire warnings of gloom — or in unfounded optimism, which is even worse. The ultimate outcome has never been reported!


The Breath of Death

America's air is sick. But the U.S. holds no corner on the pollution market.

White-collar workers in West Germany's heavily industrialized Ruhr district are accustomed to carrying an extra shirt with them to work. They know the first one will be gray after half a day in the area's polluted air.

A smog-aggravated respiratory ailment, "Tokyo-Yokohama asthma," affects thousands in that giant Japanese megalopolis. Oxygen tanks have been installed at ten busy Tokyo intersections for use of traffic policemen who must stand for hours in the swirl of auto exhaust fumes. Every half hour the men have to take an "oxygen break."

Families have begun to move out of Johannesburg, South Africa, because of a gray smog blotting out the blood-red South African sun.

But polluted air is not a threat just to living things. It even destroys metal and stone! Four ancient Greek bronze horses in Venice's St. Mark's Square are being eaten away by polluted air. So is the famed "Cleopatra's Needle" in New York City. This monument successfully withstood more than three thousand years of wind-driven desert sand in Egypt. But New York's air is simply more than it can take.

In West Germany, workmen have been waging a battle since 1959 to save the historic Cologne Cathedral. Pollutants in the city's air have been crumbling the building's sandstone. In southern Germany, even the traditionally clear air of the Alps has occasionally been filled with gases from oil refineries located in the area.

In Madrid, Spain, the pall of smoke and dust is sometimes so great it is difficult to see from one side of a thoroughfare to the other.

The atmosphere over a number of South American cities is becoming increasingly contaminated. Major problems already exist in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago, . Chile. A potential problem is also expected in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

There is a touch of irony here. Buenos Aires means "good airs" in Spanish. But population and industrial growth threaten to overburden the cleansing action of the city's prevailing winds.

This list could go on and on. Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Warsaw, Moscow, Kiev, Karachi, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Caracas, Toronto, Vancouver — these and others are apprehensive over the black clouds gathering overhead.


Worst in U.S.

The United States, the most industrialized of all nations, has the worst problem of all. The Public Health Service (PHS) reports that 120 million people in some 7,300 communities are presently affected by air pollution. Fully 25 percent of the U.S. population now lives in areas described as suffering from "major" air pollution problems. The number of people affected has risen 50 percent in the past 15 years, according to the PHS.

Until a few years ago, the sky over most of the nation was comparatively free of contaminants. Only a few scattered cities had serious pollution problems, mostly caused by smoke.

Today a breath of really fresh air is a luxury denied most urban areas.

On some days, it is not unusual for the eastern half of the United States — from Maine down to Florida and from Boston west extending all the way to Des Moines, Iowa in the upper region, and from Miami to New Orleans or even Dallas in the lower half — to be covered by a pollution blanket. So reports Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, and an expert on air pollution.

Some scientists shudder at what could — and they say undoubtedly will — happen in the near future. If such a widespread smog blanket should ever lay in for several days, with little wind action, there will be untold thousands of deaths.

"The raw materials of future pollution disasters are present. Daily production of nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and other poisons approaches and passes the 500-ton mark in most of our large cities. All that is needed is for the air to stop moving for a few days, and disaster will strike" (Poisons in the Air, by Edelson and Warshofsky).

New York City had a foretaste of such a disaster during last fall's Thanksgiving weekend. Eighty deaths were directly attributed to this particular smog siege.


The Ruhr, Germany

Los Angeles, California

Tokyo, Japan


Cause of Death: Smog

No death certificates have ever cited smog as a cause of death. Yet U.S. Surgeon General William H. Stewart reported on April 19 there is "compelling evidence" that air pollution is killing and disabling Americans in every area of the nation.

In testimony before a Senate subcommittee, Dr. Stewart revealed scientific studies have linked pollution to such diseases as cancer, the common cold, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

"That's the clearest statement of the connection between health and air pollution we've heard yet," commented Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine.

Other health hazards, too, are being found! According to Dr. C.C. Patterson, a geochemist, the average American is already close to the threshold of "classical lead poisoning." Most of this is attributable, he says, to the burning of lead tetraethyl in gasoline. Commuters on crowded freeways are sometimes subjected to dosages of lead poisoning many times higher than the rate in urban areas as a whole.

No motorist would be foolish enough to run the motor of his car in a closed garage and expect to live very long. Yet millions daily drive stop-and-go in virtual smog tunnels, breathing in dangerous amounts of lead, carbon monoxide, and other poisons.

The sulfur oxides are another growing peril. These are the combustible by-products of soft coal and oil. On some days in some of the major U.S. cities, the sulfur oxides in the air exceed "recommended levels" by from 300 to 400 percent!

How dangerous are these substances?

Sulfur dioxide combines with moisture in the air to produce sulfurous acid, a bleaching agent that attacks the upper respiratory tract. Sulfur trioxide combines with moisture to form sulfuric acid, a powerful chemical that can destroy tissues.

Congress recently reported out of committee a bill to establish new federal guidelines for sulfur oxide control. However, the coal industry's lobby was successful in efforts to eliminate the bill's enforcement provisions, making it just another "recommendation."

A senator from a coal-producing state appealed to the Administration that the future of the coal industry was at stake!

But what about the health of the nation?

Never mind the health of the nation: it is money that is important, it seems.


Crops Suffocating Too

Bad air is fast displacing bad weather as America's biggest plunderer of crops.

Damage from air pollution in parts of New York, New Jersey, Florida, California, Oregon and Washington now costs farmers more than the combined havoc of wind, cold and ice.

In the Garden State of New Jersey, pollution injury to vegetation has been observed in every single county. Damage has been reported to at least 36 commercial crops, including spinach, endive, romaine, table beets and chicory.

In central and southern Florida orange trees have been severely damaged, causing some growers to relocate.

At the opposite end of the country, peaches, apples and leafy vegetables grown in Washington and Oregon have been hit hard. Damage to crops in California now exceeds the $100,000,000 a year mark.

"If the pollutants in the air go unchecked," says Dr. O.C. Taylor of the University of California, "it won't be many years before agriculture in certain parts of America ceases to exist."

The third annual National Conference on Air Pollution was held in Washington, D.C., in December. A PLAIN TRUTH correspondent was present. He was shocked at the ominous warnings he heard.

At this conference, John Gardner, Secretary for Health, Education and Welfare, warned that three alternatives face the American public unless drastic action is taken to halt air pollution. 1) Stay indoors and live like moles on smoggy days. 2) Give everybody gas masks. 3) Build domes over all our big cities and air-condition them.

Mrs. Esther Peterson, former special assistant to the President for Consumer Affairs, warned that unless conditions soon improve, as many as 10,000 people may die prematurely from one smog siege in any one of America's large cities.

Enlarging the issue, another participant at the "Smog Conference" warned: "Air pollution on a worldwide basis is comparable with [the problems] of nuclear war or the population explosion."