Letter: Think global on green issues

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The Independent Online
Sir: The letter from Geoff Brunstrom (22 June) illustrates one of the most fundamental problems facing the cause of conservation and environmental wisdom - that of political regionalism. It appears that, whenever one country offers advice and criticism over environmental policy in another, there is a sizeable response from the criticised which essentially says "keep your nose out of our business". This may all be well and good in business, political or economic matters, but it is absolutely unacceptable when it comes to environmental concerns.

Scientists have spent the second half of this century trying to convince human society of the interconnectedness of the natural world, of how ecosystems, migration routes and river basins all cross political jurisdictions, of how it is paramount that governments realise their local environment is just part of a wider jigsaw of natural systems. Yet time and again, just as in the case of the Brent Spar, there is a reflex response to foreign criticism that borders on the paranoid - like some sort of national pride is at stake. Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Ireland and France all have an interest in the decommissioning policy of the United Kingdom because we share a common marine environment. They are all perfectly entitled to have an input into our marine policy, just as we are in theirs - for, whether we like it or not, we only own the North Sea as much as our neighbours do, ie, not at all.

Let's hope that same international pressure which has been mobilised in the past few weeks can also be brought to bear on the French government over its nuclear test ambitions. Given the success of this Greenpeace action, I'm sure Jacques Chirac will already be reconsidering his position - the prospect of the Rainbow Warrior 2 bringing the world press to the South Pacific is now, I dare say, more persuasive than any nuclear deterrent.

Yours, etc,



22 June