Environmental pollution is the price that has to be paid for industrial development and the development of civilization. Arresting and eliminating these processes is extremely costly and we do not always have the means at our disposal for the necessary action. (Kurier Szczecinski [Szczecin], June 9, 1981)
Judging by most indexes of modernization, Joseph Stalin's long cherished dream of the socialist East overtaking the capitalist West remains unfulfilled. Ironically, however, the states of Eastern Europe may be close to preeminence in one unwelcome area: environmental pollution. Atmospheric emissions of sulfur dioxide in Czechoslovakia and Poland reportedly approximate similar emissions in France and the Federal Republic of Germany. Many waterways in Yugoslavia are said to be “polluted beyond all domestic, European, and world standards,” and in East Germany and Romania less than 20 percent of the main water-courses are sufficiently pure to provide potable water. The Slovak capital of Bratislava allegedly possesses the “worst environment among our own and other European cities,” while Western experts consider air pollution levels in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia to be among the highest in the world.