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Who Pays for Pollution?

The Economy page column "Public, Not Business, Pays for Cleanup," June 22, has missed many of the important issues of the recent Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Other equally important issues include consumption of natural resources and various countries' contributions to global warming. These two issues are examples of the rich countries and the polluting industries (including their customers) being responsible for the bulk of the problems - problems which potentially impact upon every being on the planet.

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And everyone on the planet pays for these problems in the form of lost livelihood, habitat, and health. Only a fraction of the people pay in the monetary sense. This is what we mean when we say that innocent third parties pay the cost of a company's pollution and a culture's consumption, a point the author disagrees with.

Another fact this column ignores is that controlled pollution is still pollution, and leaves us much worse off than if it had never been created. This is because no pollution can be entirely controlled or thoroughly cleaned up. And there are many polluting substances not recognized or regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is time to change "business as usual" and "consumption as usual." The rich countries need to truly be world leaders on global issues, not rest on our dubious laurels. Larry Kaatz, Minneapolis

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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