Marshall, Arthur R., A Proposal To Establish The Florida Environmental Institute , March 1972, 8 pp.
A PROPOSAL TO ESTABLISH THE FLORIDA ENVIRONMENTAL INSTITUTE
Arthur R. Marshall
The pressures of expanding population and technology on Florida continue
to degrade its human and natural resources despite the combined counter-efforts
of all existing institutions. Government, more often than not, either fosters or adds to the degradation.
Educational institutions seem unable or unwilling to apply their store of knowledge effectively to the
problems. Efforts of the business community are often
exploitive, non-existent, or are superficial
or adds to the degradation palliatives.
It is evident that Florida is on a course which ultimately will insure
its joining the parade of states already sunk in environmental quagmires. Some
already see Florida as the "New Jersey of the South" where dense population and
pollution produce deplorable living conditions. Strenuous efforts of recent
years are slowing the progression toward imbalance, but not diverting it.
Philosophically we suffer a paradoxical ailment which allows us to look back
two hundred historic years in pride, but not five years ahead in preparation or
Florida is faced with major social decisions, the outcomes of which will
determine the future of its unique environment and the quality of life of its
people. Some of those are:
Should the growth ethic continue to be the dominant determinant of
our personal futures, as well as those of our urban and rural environments?
What are the total benefits and costs, economic and environmental, of
growth and expanding technology, and to whom?
What are the causes of city decay and bankruptcy, of the degradation
of lakes, rivers, bays, scenic beauty and wildlife?
Are there ways to keep cities economically and environmentally viable?
How can we protect the essential values of our fresh and salt waters,
soils, wilderness and wildlife?
Should we recycle treated sewage effluents? How can it be done?
How should we view the doubling of power generation every 7-8 years?
If populations must ultimately stabilize at some level, what factors
determine this? If they do not stabilize, where are Florida and Floridians
Can we de-emphasize the growth ethic and supplant it with other
economically viable pursuits which will provide profits and jobs and prevent
Can we maintain our present life-styles? Should we?
The kinds of decisions we face cannot be made by agencies of government
alone, nor by educational institutions alone, nor by the business community
alone. They must be made by those who are affected by the results of those
decisions - the people of Florida. Though the public decision-making process
is imperfect, it is democratic, it solicits participation by those affected
by the decisions and it is a means we can and do use to add apples, oranges
and grapes and to decide whether the resultant fruit cocktail is palatable.
It is clear that one troublesome tendency which we must overcome is our
addiction to specialization. Americans are habitual specialists. Our industries
are primarily institutions which specialize in one or a few products, in the
exploitation of one or a few resources.
American medicine is practiced through specialties. Its assorted practitioners
have come to look at a kidney, a lung; or a genito-urinary tract and
only recently are coming again to recognize that these comprise a man or a woman.
Our universities produce many persons specialized to such a high degree
that there is no valid reason to expect them as individuals to be responsive
to our array of systems problems.
Government is made up of specialists. It was the specialists of government
who sought to drain, to farm, to build roads, to divide the Everglades pie into
a hundred provincial, geographic, political, and mission-oriented parts which
nearly tore it apart.
Cities -- and urban-oriented counties -- are specialists. Their specialty
is growth. It is a dedication with much historic momentum and great inertia.
The inertia carries us on despite widening bankruptcy. The result can be seen
readily in the spreading slum core at the center of the metropolitan area, the
general inability of city governments to fund needed utilities and services, and
the entrance of large federal funding on the local scene.
In this era of rapid population doubling, burdens on virtually all essential
resources have been so intensified that assimilative or carrying capacities are
equaled or exceeded, or soon will be. It is no longer possible to regard the
endless consumption of space, the discharge of wastes into air and water, the
consumption of soils and mineral resources, etc., as matters of little or no
moment. They are all prodigal. We must now reckon with the intrinsic functional
characteristics and limits of entire life-support systems. We can do this only
through combined study and analyses of the problems by interdisciplinary teams
of specialists interwoven with the budding group of system generalists which we
For these reasons I propose the establishment of the Florida Environmental
Institute. The Institute would be a non-profit, tax-exempt independent corporation chartered under the
laws of Florida. Its primary purpose would be to analyze environmental problems on an integrated
basis and to provide that
information to the officials of the State and to the people of Florida. Its
second purpose would be to provide selected college students with exposure to
the highly complex and integrated nature of our environmental problems. The
students would participate fully in the workings of the Institute. Students
selected for this educational process would be chosen to insure the representation of many professions and geographical areas of Florida.
While a primary purpose of the Institute would be to serve government, it
would be independent of government or any other existing institution. This is
not a new concept. In January, 1970, an Environmental Study Group of the
National Academy of Sciences stated:
VI. Decision-making in environmental matters at all levels
of government has been hampered by lack of adequate analyses of what is now taking place and alternative options. We recommend the establishment of an Institute for Environmental Studies.
The Institute would carry out the following functions: 1)
Do long-range planning for the enhancement of the environment; 2) provide early warning on potential threats to the environment; 3) conduct rapid analytical studies in response to emergencies; 4) carry
out rapid field analysis; and 5) systematically study and analyze
the social, political, economic, administrative, legislative, and other
factors that influence environmental decisions and the management
of the environment. In order to achieve and maintain objectivity
arid independence, the Institute should be funded largely by the
private sector, though it would, as well, accept grants and contracts
from government agencies. The Institute would probably need a
staff of approximately 200 professional researchers and analysts,
including ecologists, biologists, economists, sociologists, physicians,
lawyers, engineers, physicists, chemists, architects, social psychologists, and political scientists, particularly specialists in public administration and international relations, as well as information
specialists and others. An institution of this size would require a
sizable budget, a substantial portion of which, we believe, should
come from the private sector-foundations, industry, and conservation groups-the remainder from contracts with federal, state, and local governments.
An effective Institute would:
Need to be financially independent of any department or agency of government and of industry and special-interest groups
Need to build confidence in its integrity among clients and supporters as well as among the public
Need a talented and highly professional and dedicated staff, broadly representative of a suitable blend of the
various relevant disciplines but well disposed toward interdisciplinary efforts
Need experienced and insightful public-policy specialists and, at least on an ad hoc basis, participation
of administrators and other governmental officials
Need sufficient financial resources, with reasonable expectations of continuity of support
Need to make widely available to the public all studies and research findings
Need a conscious and conscientious recruitment policy aimed at attracting young people and placing them in
positions of responsibility and influence
(From: Institutions for Effective Management of the Environment,
Part I, January, 1970 pp. 8-9. Report of the Environmental
Study Group to the Environmental Studies Board of the National
Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering.)
More recently, Senator Henry Jackson introduced Senate 1216 to establish
on a national basis the earlier recommendation of the National Academy of
Sciences Committee. Senator Jackson's bill of March 12, 1971, would "amend the
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (Public Law 91-190), to fund and
establish a nonprofit Environmental Policy Institute, and for other purposes."
The bill states in part:
That as presently constituted local, State, and Federal
governments do not have an adequate capacity to integrate
and evaluate the growing body of environmental research
now underway, nor to develop a systematic and critical
manner the alternatives such research presents for the
development of new and the restructuring of existing
governmental policies and programs; and that there
are no existing nongovernmental institutions capable of
adequately performing this function in an objective and
comprehensive manner and on a full-time basis.
Another section reads:
(b) The Congress further finds -
(1) that there is a need for objective, impartial policy
analysis to be conducted by an appropriate institute
which is independent of government and private enterprise, including a broad program of research, and
the identification and development of alternative
solutions to existing and emerging environmental
(2) that the institute should be a center for systematic
environmental problem solving and policy - oriented
research conducted on a broad, interdisciplinary
(3) that the institute should be available to local,
State, and Federal governmental agencies to assist
in the assessment, development, and presentation
of policy alternatives, but should have the freedom
and independence to extend its studies to matters
other than those specified by its government
(4) that it is a responsibility of the Federal Government, in conjunction with appropriate charitable foundations, to establish, to assist, to encourage,
and to fund such an Institute.
Senator Jackson's bill was reported out favorably by the Committee on
Interior and Insular Affairs and was passed by the Senate. Although Senator
Jackson's bill is aimed at a national institute, the principles are equally
applicable to the needs of Florida.
Policy direction would be given to the Florida Environmental Institute
by a board of five to seven members who are concerned with environmental
problems. The Institute would be lead by a Director, who would be supported
by a full-time staff which would include the following professions - each
to be selected for his experience in and concern with environmental problems:
- environmental educator
- systems analyst
- public health specialist
- public information specialist
An administrative officer, librarian, computer programmer, and sufficient
supporting personnel would also be employed. From time to time, professionals
in other disciplines would be employed on a part-time basis. Some of them
- public health officers
- landscape architects
- urban planners
- transportation planners
- pollution technologists
- political scientists
The cost of operation of the Institute will run in the order of $80,000 per
year for support of each professional staff member. With the Director and nine
support members listed on page 5, this would total $800,000. Funds will be
sought from private individuals, foundations, possibly from government. Individual
contributors might direct their support to a particular staff member. If some
business enterprise should seek assistance, such as the power industry, direct
funding of costs by them will be required.
In addition to the general problems discussed above, the Institute will
Propose solutions to environmental problems of Florida.
To review programs of proposed environmental research for their applicability and timeliness
to such problem as they seek to resolve.
To inform and assist state government and the public as a first priority.
To instruct selected college students in the intricacies and approaches to environmental
problems, by bringing them to the Institute for periods of observation and study. Their assignment
periods would be established in conformity with the quarters or semester systems of the
universities, or as near to that as possible. On this basis, one student would be assigned to each
professional staff member for each term of the school year. This would produce thirty to forty
"graduates" each year. Some students could be retained for more than one term if they desire and
if such extended assignment is in accordance with the goals of the Institute.
To establish a computer data-storage and retrieval program for the great masses of environmental and related data which already exist or shall be gathered for Florida.
To conduct computer-simulation programs, or advise their conduct, which treat environmental (urban and rural) problems of Florida.
To encourage applications of the remote sensing and other capabilities of NASA to the environmental problems of Florida.
To operate in conjunction with the two hundred professional volunteers of the Florida Defenders of the Environment.
To release all findings, recommendations, reports, etc., to the public on a broad base, including the use of films, slides, and the news media.
The only reason for pursuing such a program as that proposed is that we
must. Florida has a host of environmental problems, urban and rural, which
disturb its people and the nation. It also has outstanding environmental
treasures, yet viable, unique and salvable, unequaled in the nation.
These two disparate circumstances of despair and hope give Florida the
opportunity to lead the nation to environmental success or failure - to
environmental chaos or maturity - and to protect itself and its people
while doing so. It also has many people who care, both experts and laymen.
The approach to Florida's environmental problems envisioned in this plan
is basically an enlargement of the present program of the Ford Foundation
sponsored Division of Applied Ecology which I direct at the University of Miami.
In the first year of this program, we have produced analyses of specific
environmental problems. The results have been rewarding and beneficial to
both private and public decision making. A 1971 paper entitled "Repairing the
Florida Everglades Basin" contributed to Governor Askew's convening of the
"Governor's Conference on Water Management in South Florida" in September,
1971. Conference recommendations to the Governor resulted in a Land and
Water Use Task Force, of which I was a member. The Task Force prepared significant environmental bills which were presented to the Florida Legislature.
In similar fashion, the Division has published significant studies prepared by our interdisciplinary staff of ecologist, land planner, hydrologist, and
Guidelines to direct development of a large portion of the undeveloped areas of south Dade
County. These guidelines focused attention on existing finite resources, particularly water, and
proposed development practices and population limits relative to these environmental
The G.A.C. Three-Islands development proposal for Hollywood-Hallandale. At the request of
Governor Askew, an environmental impact statement was prepared which defined impacts upon
urban resources in terms of noise, traffic, density, open space to name a few.
Evaluation of the route of I-75 across the Florida Everglades. Three alternatives and a no-road
policy were tested against the ecological constraints of the region and the impact of the road
which would encourage development. (in conjunction with others)
The proposed Tarpon Spring power plant of the Florida Power corporation (a project
accomplished jointly with Conservation 70's and Florida Defenders of the Environment) was
studied by a selected group of ecologist, planners, engineers, biologist, to define ecological
constraints within the area and make recommendations which FPC could follow before
construction was begun.
The need to protect the Big Cypress watershed. Through the diligent efforts of conservationist
groups and public agencies, the Federal government's attention to the reality of the proposed
acquisition was finally achieved.
While no one of these cases is concluded, our work has led to significant
shifts in public awareness and actions, and to corresponding shifts in governmental decision making.
In its effort to bring the issues to the people, the Division has sponsored
or co-sponsored a number of conferences, its members have made many public
appearances and contributions to the press and other news media on environmental
issues. A recent conference of agency personnel - state and federal - and
interested public, discussed the "Environmental Impact Statement" as a viable
tool for inter-agency and interdisciplinary involvement in environmental
management. The conference was held in an effort to improve statement preparation and to upgrade its completeness through communication.
The Division employs three graduate students on a part-time basis: a
candidate for a degree in law, a graduate engineer, and a meteorologist. This
gives the students exposure to environmental issues and greatly broadens their
education base. This program further gives the Division contact with at least
three respective departments.
We are concerned that our present operations often lack other discipline
participation and that we are too few in number to examine more than a fraction
of the many opportunities potentially open for study in this time of great
concern with the human environment.
Your comments, criticisms, and offers of assistance will be appreciated.