Environmentalism is Patriotic

Carol Singer Neuvelt

While much has been written about our country’s abundant natural wealth, it bears reminding that our access to natural resources helped fuel our economic prosperity and leadership during the 20th century.

I know it’s hokey, but on the eve of Independence Day, I’d like to spend a few moments pondering the idea that environmental values are at the core of the cultural and societal values this country was founded on.

So in  the spirit of the day, I’d like to share what a few of our Presidents had to say about the importance of environmental conservation:

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country. It can rekindle our sense of unity, our confidence in the future, and give our nation and all of us individually a new sense of purpose.”Jimmy Carter

“The American people have a right to air that they and their children can breathe without fear.” –  Lyndon Baines Johnson

“The people have a vital interest in the conservation of their natural resources; in the prevention of wasteful practices.”Herbert Hoover

“The recent upsurge of public concern over environmental questions reflects a belated recognition that man has been too cavalier in his relations with nature. Unless we arrest the depredations that have been inflicted so carelessly on our natural systems–which exist in an intricate set of balances–we face the prospect of ecological disaster.” – Richard Nixon

As we all prepare to close up shop and celebrate the Independence Day, I invite you share some of the patriotic environmentalist that have inspired you in your career and life.

About Carol Singer Neuvelt

Carol Singer Neuvelt is Executive Director of NAEM. Her long-term perspective and insights into corporate EHS and sustainability best practices also have been featured in a variety of publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Bureau of National Affairs, Environmental Leader, the National Safety Council’s Safety+Health magazine and Sustainable Life Media. She is the former Deputy Director for the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Public Liaison, where she managed the agency’s interaction with external stakeholders. Follow her on Twitter at @carol_neuvelt.

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  1. Stephen Evanoff

    July 4, 2010

    I am so glad you chose to remind us that environmentalism, i.e., ecological conservation, is patriotic.

    One of my favorite Presidential quotes comes from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave during his two week trip through The West in 1903 as he stood, on April 24th, at the site of the archway that was being built at he north entrance to Yellowstone National Park:

    “I cannot too often repeat that the essential feature of the principle behind Yellowstone and other national parks is its essential democracy – it is the preservation of the scenery, of the forests, of the wilderness life and the wilderness game, for the people as a whole instead of leaving the enjoyment thereof to be confined to the very rich who can control private preserves.”

    On this Independence Day 2010, I think its important to remember that our national parks are, as Congress stated when making Yellowstone a national park, “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”

    Happy Independence Day to all!

  2. Bob Brayley

    July 9, 2010

    For those with an interest in Teddy Roosevelt and the origins of the natural resource conservation movement in the US read his biography by David Brinkley “The Wilderness Warrior”. As a Harvard trained naturalist and an avid hunter Roosevelt understood that wide scale habitat preservation was necessary to preserve the species that he liked to hunt. Fortunately he had the political skills and the influence to make it happen on a grand scale.

    None the less, it is my opinion that the earth’s natural resources don’t stand a chance against the ongoing expansion of human kind. Sustainable growth is an oxymoron. When the last barrel of oil is in Yellowstone, that’s where we’ll go to get it. In order to preserve the last pristine lake “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people”, we’ll build a resort hotel on its shores.

    Sorry for the dose of pessimism. Reading history books will do that to you.

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