The more we pour the big machines, the fuel, the pesticides, the herbicides, the fertilizer and chemicals into farming, the more we knock out the mechanism that made it all work in the first place.
Is the minor convenience of allowing the present generation the luxury of doubling its energy consumption every 10 years worth the major hazard of exposing the next 20,000 generations to this lethal waste?
All I know about thermal pollution is that if we continue our present rate of growth in electrical energy consumption it will simply take, by the year 2000, all our freshwater streams to cool the generators and reactors.
Apollo 13, as you may remember, gave us a reactor that is bubbling away right now somewhere in the Pacific. It's supposed to be bubbling away on the moon, but it's in the Pacific Ocean instead.
We've got to search back to our last known safe landmark. I can't say exactly where, but I think it's back there at the start of the Industrial Revolution, we began applying energy in vast amounts to tools with which we began tearing the environment apart.
Some otherwise sane scientists have seriously proposed that we tuck this deadly garbage under the edges of drifting continents but how can they be sure the moving land masses will climb over the waste and not just push it forward?
It is absolutely imperative that we protect, preserve and pass on this genetic heritage for man and every other living thing in as good a condition as we received it.
There are many different kinds of radioactive waste and each has its own half-life so, just to be on the safe side and to simplify matters, I base my calculations on the worst one and that's plutonium.
I was actually telling people that - by harnessing the atom - we could enter a new era of unlimited power that would do away with the need to dam our beautiful streams.
At that time a senator who was on the Joint Committee of Atomic Energy said rather quietly, 'You know, we're having a little problem with waste these days.' I didn't know what he meant then, but I know now.
What happens when the guy who runs the reactor gets out of bed wrong or decides, for some reason, that he wants to override his instruction sheet some afternoon?
The Sierra Club is a very good and a very powerful force for conservation and, as a matter of fact, has grown faster since I left than it was growing while I was there! It must be doing something right.
What's even more unsettling is the way these people hide what they're doing from the public. They strip the labels off miracle wheat when they ship it, for instance, and say, 'Watch out. Don't plant too much and don't depend on it too much.'
I sort of kept my hand in writing and went to work for the Sierra Club in '52, walked the plank there in '69, founded Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters after that.
The risk presented by these lethal wastes is like no other risk, and we should not be expected to accept it or to project it into the future in order for manufacturers and utilities to make a dollar killing now.
I don't think we have very good records about what they were thinking except, as I pointed out earlier today, that they did invent our political system.
I will say this, - though: If it is true that fusion will put unlimited amounts of energy into our hands, then I'm worried. Our record on this score is extremely poor.
They simply don't know that much about what they're doing. There isn't enough control. There isn't enough capability in ordinary people to tinker with such a complicated piece of machinery.
Yet another proposal would have us rocket the waste into the sun, but, as you're probably aware, about one in ten of our space shots doesn't quite make it out of the earth's gravitational field.
It's very hard for me to know what to say about fusion right now, inasmuch as it is not yet scientifically feasible. I just can't understand how so many people are able to predict so much about something that still isn't scientifically possible.