The problem of environmental degradation seems to be falling into a curious focus. Despite massive public support for environmentalist measures - as witness the positive public response in recent state referendums on such issues - we are being warned about a backlash against "extremists" who are raising "radical" demands for arresting environmental degradation. Much of this "backlash" seems to be generated by industry and by the White House, where Mr. Nixon complacently assures us that "America is well on the way to winning the war against environmental degradation; well on the way to making our peace with nature". This rhetoric is suspiciously familiar; presumably we are beginning to see the "light" at the end of the environmental tunnel. In any case, advertising campaigns by the petroleum, automobile, lumber, and chemical industries are urging Americans. to be more "reasonable" about environmental improvements, to "sensibly" balance "benefits" against "losses", to scale down norms for cleaner air and water that have already been adopted by the Environmental Protection Administration, to show "patience" and "understanding" for the ostensibly formidable technical problems that confront our friendly neighborhood industrial oligopolies and utilities.