As far as the issue of actual pollution is concerned, it is primarily a
scientific, not a political, problem. In regard to the political principle
involved: if a man creates a physical danger or harm to others, which extends
beyond the line of his own property, such as unsanitary conditions or even loud
noise, and if this is proved, the law can and does hold him responsible. If the
condition is collective, such as in an overcrowded city, appropriate and
objective laws can be defined, protecting the rights of all those involved—as
was done in the case of oil rights, air-space rights, etc. But such laws cannot
demand the impossible, must not be aimed at a single scapegoat, i.e.,
the industrialists, and must take into consideration the whole context of the
problem, i.e., the absolute necessity of the continued existence of
industry—if the preservation of human life is the standard.
It has been reported in the press many times that the issue of pollution is to
be the next big crusade of the New Left activists, after the war in Vietnam
peters out. And just as peace was not their goal or motive in that crusade, so
clean air is not their goal or motive in this one.