American Experience

S22 E5 | CLIP

The Presidency and the Environment

From the 1960s to today, US Presidents have talked about saving our environment.

AIRED: April 18, 2010 | 0:01:47

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.


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