We're In Good Company

 

Thoughts on Conservation
and Environmental Protection

The concepts of conservation and environmental protection don't recognize partisan boundaries.

There are many good men and women, on both sides of the aisle, who have stood up for our environment.

On questions of fresh water, clean air and healthy communities, we need to define our shared values and move from that place, together. 


Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)

"Conservation of our resources is the fundamental question before this nation, and that our first and greatest task is to set our house in order and begin to live within our means.”
January 1909, in letter transmitting report of National Conservation Commission to Congress

“Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the ‘the game belongs to the people.’ So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The ‘greatest good for the greatest number’ applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method.”
A Book-Lover’s Holidays in the Open, 1916

Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797)

“Society…is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
Reflections 

“The great Error of our Nature is, not to know where to stop, not to be satisfied with any reasonable Acquirement; not to compound with our Condition; but to lose all we have gained by an insatiable Pursuit after more.”
A Vindication of Natural Society, 1757

Pope Francis (1936 - )

"I don’t know if it is all (man’s fault) but the majority is, for the most part, it is man who continuously slaps down nature … We have, in a sense, lorded it over nature, over Sister Earth, over Mother Earth … I think man has gone too far … Thank God that today there are voices that are speaking out about this."
Papal Press Conference En Route to Manila

"Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude."
Pope Francis’ Audience

Gary Synder (1930 - )

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.” 

“Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” 

“As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth . . . the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe. I try to hold both history and the wilderness in mind, that my poems may approach the true measure of things and stand against the unbalance and ignorance of our times.” 

Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933)

“There is new life in the soil for every man. There is healing in the trees for tired minds and for our overburdened spirits, there is strength in the hills, if only we will lift up our eyes. Remember that nature is your great restorer.”
Speech given by telephone to a Boy Scouts gathering in New York, July 25, 1924

Herbert Hoover (1874 – 1964)

“The spiritual uplift, the goodwill, cheerfulness and optimism that accompanies every expedition to the outdoors is the peculiar spirit that our people need in times of suspicion and doubt…No other organized joy has values comparable to the outdoor experience.”
Speech to National Conference on Outdoor Recreation, 1925

“The people have a vital interest in the conservation of their natural resources; in the prevention of wasteful practices.”
Annual Message to Congress, December 2, 1930

Richard Weaver (1910 – 1963)

“Somehow the notion has been loosed that nature is hostile to man or that her ways are offensive or slovenly, so that every step of progress is measured by how far we have altered these. Nothing short of a recovery of the ancient virtue of pietas can absolve man from this sin.”
Ideas Have Consequences (1948)

“Nature is not something to be fought, conquered and changed according to any human whims. To some extent, of course, it has to be used. But what man should seek in regard to nature is not a complete domination but a modus vivendi – that is, a manner of living together, a coming to terms with something that was here before our time and will be here after it. The important corollary of this doctrine, it seems to me, is that man is not the lord of creation, with an omnipotent will, but a part of creation, with limitations, who ought to observe a decent humility in the face of the inscrutable.”
The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver

Wendell Berry (1934 - )

“Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is a party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do.”
Crunchy Cons (2006)

“Can we actually suppose that we are wasting, polluting, and making ugly this beautiful land for the sake of patriotism and the love of God? Perhaps some of us would like to think so, but in fact this destruction is taking place because we have allowed ourselves to believe, and to live, a mated pair of economic lies: that nothing has a value that is not assigned to it by the market; and that the economic life of our communities can safely be handed over to the great corporations.”
“Compromise, Hell!” Orion magazine , November/December 2004

“To husband is to use with care, to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve. Old usage tells us that there is a husbandry also of the land, of the soil, of the domestic plants and animals - obviously because of the importance of these things to the household. And there have been times, one of which is now, when some people have tried to practice a proper human husbandry of the nondomestic creatures in recognition of the dependence of our households and domestic life upon the wild world. Husbandry is the name of all practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world; it is the art of keeping tied all the strands in the living network that sustains us.

And so it appears that most and perhaps all of industrial agriculture's manifest failures are the result of an attempt to make the land produce without husbandry.” 
Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food
 

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

"A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

Russell Kirk (1919 – 1994)

“The resources of nature, like those of spirit, are running out, and all that a conscientious man can aspire to be is a literal conservative, hoarding what remains of culture and of natural wealth against the fierce appetites of modern life.”
The Conservative Mind

“The issue of environmental quality is one which transcends traditional political boundaries. It is a cause which can attract, and very sincerely, liberals, conservatives, radicals, reactionaries, freaks, and middle-class straights.”
“Common Reader for Everyday Ecologists,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sept. 20, 1971

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.”
Farewell Address to the Nation, January 17, 1961

Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994)

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“We can no longer afford to consider air and water common property, free to be abused by anyone without regard to the consequences. Instead, we should begin now to treat them as scarce resources, which we are no more free to contaminate than we are free to throw garbage into our neighbor’s yard.”
Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union, 1970

“Environment’ is not an abstract concern, or simply a matter of aesthetics, or of personal taste — although it can and should involve these as well. Man is shaped to a great extent by his surroundings. Our physical nature, our mental health, our culture and institutions, our opportunities for challenge and fulfillment, our very survival — all of these are directly related to and affected by the environment in which we live. They depend upon the continued healthy functioning of the natural systems of the Earth.”
Message to the Congress Transmitting the First Annual Report of the Council on Environmental Quality, August 10th, 1970

John P. Saylor (1908 – 1973)

“In the wilderness, we can get our bearings. We can keep from getting blinded in our great human success to the fact that we are part of the life of this planet and we would do well to keep our perspectives and keep in touch with some of the basic facts of life.”
Floor speech, U.S. House of Representatives, July 1956

Barry Goldwater (1909 – 1998)

“While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.”
The Conscience of a Majority (1970)

“We are on the Colorado…that means something more to me than thoughts of electrical power or a harnessed river.”
An Odyssey of the Green and Colorado Rivers, 1940

Gerald R. Ford (1913 – 2006)

“We have too long treated the natural world as an adversary rather than as a life-sustaining gift from the Almighty. If man has the genius to build, which he has, he must also have the ability and the responsibility to preserve.”
Remarks at dedication of National Environmental Research Center, July 3, 1975

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004)

“If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
Remarks on signing annual report of Council on Environmental Quality, July 11, 1984

“I just have to believe that with love for our natural heritage and a firm resolve to preserve it with wisdom and care, we can and will give the American land to our children, not impaired, but enhanced. And in doing this, we’ll honor the great and loving God who gave us this land in the first place.”
Remarks to National Campers and Hikers Association in Bowling Green, KY, July 12, 1984

John McCain (1936 – )

“For decades we have been living lives of abundance, with little regard for our natural resources or global health. But we are now facing hard choices in our energy policy. Future generations — my children and grandchildren, along with yours — will have to live with the decisions we make today. And so it is time for us to make some tough and — hopefully — smart choices regarding our energy use and production before it is too late.”
Address to Clean Cities Congress, May 8, 2006

“Our nation’s continued prosperity hinges on our ability to solve environmental problems and sustain the natural resources on which we all depend.”
Op-Ed, The New York Times, November 22, 1996

Aldo Leopold (1887 - 1948)

“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.” 
A Sand County Alamanac

“For unnumbered centuries of human history the wilderness has given way. The priority of industry has become dogma. Are we as yet sufficiently enlightened to realize that we must now challenge that dogma, or do without our wilderness? Do we realize that industry, which has been our good servant, might make a poor master? Let no man expect that one lone government bureau is able — even tho’ it be willing — to thrash out this question alone. ... Our remnants of wilderness will yield bigger values to the nation’s character and health than they will to its pocketbook, and to destroy them will be to admit that the latter are the only values that interest us.”
Aldo Leopold's Southwest

“Cease being intimidated by the argument that a right action is impossible because it does not yield maximum profits, or that a wrong action is to be condoned because it pays.” 
A Sand Country Alamanac

“Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” 

Edward Abbey (1927 - 1989)

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” 

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” 
The Journey Home: Some Words in Defense of the American West

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” 
Desert Solitaire