Saving Mother Earth
But how do you inform jet skiers of the damage they're doing? And if you could educate them, would they stay away from the shores?
These and other problems were discussed at two symposia presented this summer at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) as part of the week-long Tenth General Assembly of the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE). The international, Paris-based organization does world-wide, independent environmental evaluations. Every three years, the 39-nation organization holds an assembly of its 100 delegates and sponsors symposia. This year's meeting was held at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute (EOHSI) at RWJMS in Piscataway. Nearly 200 attended from more than 30 nations.
Bernard Goldstein, MD, chairman of the Department of Community Medicine at RWJMS and acting dean of the UMDNJ-School of Public Health, says hosting the event was a recognition of New Jersey's international reputation as a leader in environmental health.
A symposium titled, "The Commons Revisited: An Americas Perspective," examined sharing natural resources. Goldstein explains that centuries ago in England, towns had adjacent fields, or common ground, used by the townspeople for grazing their sheep. When overcrowding occurred, wealthy lords would fence in or "close the commons," excluding others. Scientists have applied the metaphor of a closed commons to the environment.
"We have a tendency to think natural resources actually belong to us," Goldstein says. "But they don't. So when corporations pollute the air or water, they are, in essence, 'closing the commons.'"
One example, given by an epidemiologist from Alaska, is the pollution from other parts of the world that affects the state.
A former environmental minister of Costa Rica said destruction of the rain forests continues. In Ecuador there are now more than 4 million chain saws: one for every two residents.
A second symposium, "New Jersey as a Microcosm," examined the relationship between mankind and the ecosystem, using the Garden State's problems and solutions as examples.
Fall 1998 Table of Contents