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Cleaner oceans

For skeptics who wonder whether environmental laws make a difference or not, a new United Nations report on the world's oceans offers some instructive points. As a result of antipollution statutes on the books in most industrial nations, the world's oceans are now actually cleanerm than was the case ten years ago, before such laws became commonplace. The report, conducted by the Regional Seas Program of the United Nations Environmental Program, also found that the high seas are better able to absorb most toxic substances without adverse consequences than has been thought possible by experts.

Such information comes as good news at a time when many politicians argue that environmental statutes should be substantially pruned back in the name of economy. That is not to say that such laws are always well drafted, or may not need alteration as new scientific information comes to light. But there does appear to be a direct correlation between laws that restrict production and distribution of chemical substances and the relatively cleaner oceans of 1982.

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Pollution, of course, still remains a serious problem along shorelines and in tidal areas. And perhaps most troubling, even as Northern Hemisphere waters are now cleaner, serious pollution may be entering waters in the Southern Hemisphere from underdeveloped nations that are allowing use of toxic chemicals controlled or banned elsewhere.

In that regard, the new UN study is useful in pointing out that tough environmental laws do indeed make a difference.

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