The environmental crisis expresses the relation between science and society in

a special way: it illustrates the overriding importance of action. Action-oriented

decisions-for example, whether to stop global warming for the sake of people

or in order to conserve the natural world-profoundly affect the relationship.

Both the post-World War II changes in production technology, which gave rise

to the environmental crisis, and the failed effort to resolve it by the strategy of

control, lead to a common conclusion: Environmental pollution is an incurable

disease: it can only be prevented. By design, production technologies must be

compatible with environmental quality. This introduces a social interest in what

is widely regarded as a private prerogative: the decisions that determine what is

produced and by what means. Environmental quality is then an aspect of political

economy, requiring, for example, national, democratically determined, industrial

and agricultural policies. Such a sweeping transformation of production can

be powerfully inspired by a vision of the economic renaissance that would be

generated by the new, more productive, technologies. The most meaningful

engine of change may be not so much environmental quality as the economic

development and growth generated by the effort to improve it.