4. 1970 to 2000: The Environmental Machine
In a few years, it will be impossible to write a paper about "environmental affairs" as a separate subject, because this topic is rapidly being integrated into every aspect of private and public life. Organized groups run the gamut from one extreme to the other. The Cenozoic Society of Canton, New York wants to remove all human influences from millions of acres in the North Country. The Property Rights Foundation of America in Stony Creek, a few miles away, argues that land protection groups are part of a global conspiracy to install world government, led by the United Nations. Everyone in between is seeking some kind of balance between the environment and economic growth.
The vast majority of New Yorkers view environmental affairs comfortably, as one concern among the many concerns of daily living. New Yorks state and federal legislators glean high ratings from the League of Conversation Voters and the Environmental Protection Lobby year after year because the voters demand it. Voters regularly approve bond issues that contribute to the states high taxes, as long as the debt finances new water treatment plants and new parks. What has changed is size, as the states population has grown from 340,000 in 1790 to more than 18 million in 2000. There have also been changes in scope, as New York has passed from being an agricultural empire to an industrial powerhouse and, in 2000, a capital of global finance. But the will of the people has not changed. Every time they are asked to pay the price for clean air, clean water, and open space, New Yorkers pay it willingly.