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Martin Hash
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Post by Martin Hash » Fri Feb 11, 2011 10:20 am

The seminal guardian angel of nature in the United States was President Theodore Roosevelt, a man of particular turn-of-the-last-century destiny. Not only did “Teddy” establish the Forest Service, and make “Conservation as a National Duty” part of his presidential platform, he actually created the political climate that allowed him to do those things by founding the Boone & Crocket Club before he was president, which was instrumental in preparing and getting conservation legislation passed. Roosevelt, as well, piqued the public's imagination through prodigious conservation writings in books and magazines. No person has had a more thorough belief in the importance of nature, its value, and its future, combined the political expertise, will-power, and perseverance to protect it: "Conservation means not only preservation of natural resources, but the prevention of the monopoly of natural resources, so they should inhere in the people as a whole."

However, there is a distinct difference between Teddy’s “conservationist” and today’s “environmentalist.” Wikipedia is the best source of the popular notion of environmentalism:

“Environmentalism as a movement covers broad areas of institutional oppression. Examples of these oppressions are: consumption of ecosystems and natural resources into waste, dumping waste into disadvantaged communities, air pollution, water pollution, weak infrastructure, exposure of organic life to toxins, monoculture, and various other focuses.”

That description has little to do with conservation. In fact, no where in that extensive Wikipedia entry does Theodore Roosevelt’s name ever appear! The hubris required for someone to think they are the arbitrator of society’s responsibilities is appalling. The political self-righteousness alone drives me away from both the people and the movement. Interestingly, my law degree is from Lewis & Clark Law School, the top ranked “environmental” law school in the U.S. (Lewis & Clark was ranked “61” overall last year.) Smart, concerned students from around the world come especially to Lewis & Clark so that they can learn to promote and protect the environment. Also, Portland, Oregon is an environmentalist’s Mecca - I have a long history in the area, and cannot help but be sympathetic towards and be influenced by the environmental movement, yet I cannot in good faith support or agree with using the Earth’s needs to foist a progressive social agenda on humanity. “Environmentalism” is more politics than a righteous respect for Earth’s majesty.

On the other hand, going to Wikipedia again, we find a definition of conservation that Teddy and I would agree with. (BTW, Theodore Roosevelt is prominently mentioned.)

“The conservation movement, also known as nature conservation, is a political, environmental and a social movement that seeks to protect natural resources including plant and animal species as well as their habitat for the future. The contemporary conservation movement has broadened from the early movement's emphasis on use of sustainable yield of natural resources and preservation of wilderness areas to include preservation of biodiversity. Some say the conservation movement is part of the broader and more far-reaching environmental movement, while others argue that they differ both in ideology and practice. Chiefly in the United States, conservation is seen as differing from environmentalism in that it aims to preserve natural resources expressly for their continued sustainable use by humans.”

That says it all - I once again avow my commitment to conservation.