The Presidency and the Environment
From the 1960s to today, US Presidents have talked about saving our environment.
If we do what is right now, in 1963,
we must set aside substantial areas of our country
for all the people who are going to live in it
by the year 2000.
Where 180 million Americans now live,
by the year 2000 there will be 350 million of them.
Either we stop the poisoning in our air
or we become a nation in gas masks,
groping our way through these dying cities
and a wilderness of ghost towns that the people have evacuated.
The great question of the '70s is:
Shall we surrender to our surroundings
or shall we make our peace with nature
and begin to make reparations for the damage we have done
to our air, to our land, and to our water?
And accelerate development of technology,
to capture energy from the sun and the earth
for this and future generations.
If we fail to act soon,
we will face an economic, social and political crisis
that will threaten our free institutions.
We must and will be sensitive
to the delicate balance of our ecosystems,
the preservation of endangered species,
and the protection of our wilderness lands.
It's been said that we don't inherit the Earth
from our ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.
And when our children look back on this time and this place
they will be grateful.
If we fail to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases,
deadly heat waves and droughts will become more frequent,
coastal areas will flood and economies will be disrupted.
That is going to happen.