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Walt Kelly

We have met the enemy and he is us

Walt Kelly (1913-1973)
We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us
Published 1970
Used by permission of Okefenokee Glee & Perloo, Inc.

This poster indicates the concern for pollution in 1970. Despite laws that attempted to prevent roadside littering, it was customary for many people to throw trash out of their vehicles.

As litter is a very visible form of pollution, it often stood as representative of all pollution in the environment. During the 1970s, America stopped using lead in most gasoline and moved from an industrial to a technical age. According to the New York Times, New York mayor John Lindsay spoke to the National Municipal League about pollution concluding, “It is wrong—wrong for ourselves, wrong for our children and wrong for the nation—to spend $80-billion for defense and war abroad and less than 2 per cent as much for survival in a decent environment here at home.” The article stressed the positive reception of the mayor’s presentation as controlling pollution was such a major issue at the time and the War in Vietnam was declining in popularity.

Other articles stressed that pollution was a national blight that could be eradicated on the personal level. All one had to do was dispose of trash responsibly, use cleaner gasoline, and reduce energy waste. “Adopt-a-Road’ projects are an outgrowth of this effort.