Space and Air

September 16, 1990

Editor: Recent issues of The Sun reflect the contradictory choices confronting the American consumer, and the pervasiveness of environmental problems.

For example, on Sept. 2, "Earth-week" in the Perspective section reported, ''A nationwide drought plaguing Nicaragua has caused extensive crop failures ...''

Turning to Maryland Living, the feature article ''For Once, a Brand-New Show House'' demurs, ''How about three whole formal rooms (living room, dining room and library) paneled in matched-grain Honduras mahogany in the Georgian manner ... ?'' The article notes that of the approximately 80,000 board feet of lumber, about 10 percent is mahogany.

I do not mean to disparage the splendor of this mansion, nor to question the efficacy of this gentlemanly country living. I do believe, however, that all Americans must assume responsibility for the effects of their patterns of consumption and life-style.

There is clear causality between the insatiable demand for tropical hardwoods, and the drought, famine and social and political instability in the equatorial regions. Yet the impact is not confined to the remote regions of the world.

The residents of Harford County and the Baltimore region also bear the effects of such land-intensive consumption. The destruction of our own forests is a consequence of unbridled suburbanization and singular emphasis on the primacy of privatized transportation, as the march to semi-urban living relentlessly imprints its toe-holds throughout the area.

If Earth Day 1990 is to have any real impact, it seems very clear to me that Americans must assume a world leadership role in confronting that which is wasteful and self-serving in our society. Perhaps we might start by aiming to consume our share of the world's resources, that is, three percent.

Howard Aylesworth Jr.


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