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In early March of last year I received an invitation to meet with the leaders of the Salvadoran guerrillas in Managua, Nicaragua. I was told that they had already translated and discussed the testimony on Central America I had prepared for a congressional subcommittee the previous September and had found it "educational." Now they wanted a "broad exchange of views" and also to transmit a "message" to the State Department before the Salvadoran elections scheduled for March 28.
For most of humanity the third quarter of the century was a period of unprecedented prosperity. The world's output of goods and services, expanding 4 per cent or more annually, tripled in less than a generation. Growth seemed commonplace—and was soon built into consumer aspirations, corporate earnings projections, and government revenue expectations. Few stopped to calculate that if the 4 per cent rate of economic growth remained steady, there would be a fiftyfold expansion in just a century. And even fewer considered the pressure this would put on the earth's resources.
For most reporters the atomic age began with a press release. "It's a statement from the president, "Assistant White House Press Secretary Eben Ayers told those gathered at the Monday-morning briefing on August 6, 1945, and he began to read:
Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam" which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare....
It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its powers has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.