Shooting the Rapids; June 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Beardsley; 1 Page(s)
Change in the natural world spans decades, even centuries. It follows that long-term monitoring is the only way to identify harmful trends. Yet human institutions operate on the basis of months, or years at best. Members of Congress run for reelection every two or six years. Many corporate managers live--and die--by quarterly results. Tenured professors scramble annually for research grants. How, then, can existing bodies identify environmental problems and assess the effectiveness of measures taken to mitigate them?
They cannot, argue the founders of the Committee for the National Institute for the Environment (CNIE). What is needed, they suggest, is their eponymous institution. The National Institute for the Environment would be a new federal agency that would sponsor research on critical environmental issues. Proponents say it could serve as an early- warning system for such ominous developments as global warming, stratospheric ozone depletion and the decline of biodiversity. Because the institute would be governed by an independent board, it would be relatively immune to political pressure.