Gilbert F. White
Q: What, during this time, was your relation with the Resources for the Future
organization? Were you doing much work for them?
A: My connection with Resources for the Future goes back to the first mid-
century conference--it had been funded by the Ford Foundation--in which I
was a participant and out of which came the recommendation that a couple
dozen of us made that the Ford Foundation should establish something like
Resources for the Future. It was so funded and it continued to have Ford
funding for about 25 years.
When I moved from Haverford to Chicago I got my first research grant from
Resources for the Future. As I recall, it was ,000 for that first study.
Then later on I became a member of the RFF board, and the final six years
I was chairman of the board. I was chairman at the time the Ford Foundation
decided to withdraw its support from any such organizations. We then had
to decide to either take terminal support money on condition of becoming a
sub-unit of Brookings Institution or go out on our own and raise a large
amount of money to become independent. We decided to try the latter, and
were fortunate in receiving support to become a freestanding institution. We
persuaded the Ford Foundation to give the same million that would have
gone to Brookings to RFF in the event it could assure a total endowment of
over million. We did.
During much of that period I was associated with RFF only in the sense that
work I was doing happened to converge on or cross the kinds of work the
people on the RFF staff were doing. I saw people such as John Krutilla and
Allen Kneese and exchanged ideas with them on frequent occasions.
The most significant thing, I think, that was going on at that time was broader
than the flood loss management effort. That was the attempt to encourage
people to look at water development in terms of alternatives and full
examination of the full consequences. The National Research Council had a
group that was working on exactly this problem at the time, and I think its
reports on alternatives in water management, both in general and then using
the Colorado Basin as an example, were influential in helping people consider
the full implications of multiple-purpose development. It went a step further
than the Harvard seminar, or training program. I can illustrate that by taking
the flood field.
I remember once meeting with the Harvard group for an examination of the
way in which they were treating the economic analysis of flood loss reduction