Conservative Environmentalism

Conservative Environmentalism

Published: Apr 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm


By Mr. Right

Conservatives frequently come under fire for being “anti-environment.” Their accusers “conveniently” forget that the environmental movement was started by conservatives. In his speech at Osawatomie in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt, who is widely hailed as the first modern Republican, outlined his policy of conservation, stating, “Conservation means development as much as it does protection. I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use the natural resources of our land but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob, by wasteful use, the generations that come after us. I ask nothing of the nation except that it so behave as each farmer here behaves with reference to his own children. That farmer is a poor creature who skins the land and leaves it worthless to his children. The farmer is a good farmer who, having enabled the land to support himself and to provide for the education of his children, leaves it to them a little better than he found it himself.

I believe the same thing of a nation.” When boiled down, Roosevelt’s position of conservation means that while we should make use of the resources our nation has been blessed with, we should not needlessly squander or abuse them. This is a philosophy with biblical underpinnings; in Genesis, God gives Adam (and all mankind) stewardship over the earth. The terms of man’s stewardship are that while man is allowed to use the resources of the earth, he must ensure that those resources are responsibly cared for and that they are replenished for use by future generations. This creates a system which when followed will ensure that man is able to work in harmony with nature.

Conversely, the majority of liberals embrace a system known as preservation. Preservation calls for man to simply leave nature alone. It is easy to see why this is a foolish system; if man leaves nature alone he is neither able to use the land nor to ensure its future existence. Conservation, the system embraced by the majority of conservatives, is the only viable environmental policy. Under conservation, the country would be allowed and/or continue to be allowed to drill in Alaska, provide recreational forests for the public use, continue to harvest lobster and other sea creatures, and much, much more. All of these things can be accomplished through the responsible system of conservation, a conservative principle which is, not surprisingly, superior to the corresponding liberal principle.

Mr. Right is a senior at a local high school.