Conservation and Preservation of Nature
Essay on Conservation and Preservation of Nature
In the twenty-first century, as a result of global warming, environmentalism has adopted a more inclusive, planetary view. Human abuse of nature is almost as old as recorded history. Plato lamented land degradation due to hills being denuded for lumber. Eighteenth century French and British colonial administrators understood the link between deforestation, soil erosion, and local climate change. Stephen Hales, a British plant physiologist, instigated the practice of reserving 20 percent of all green plants to preserve rainfall on the Caribbean island of Tobago. Pierre Poivre, French governor of Mauritius, appalled by forest and wildlife devastation, ordered one-fourth of the island to be preserved in woodlands. In America, conservation commenced as a pragmatic response to the excesses imbued by the nineteenth century limitless frontier mentality. George Perkins Marsh, who had witnessed the damage caused by excessive grazing and deforestation around the Mediterranean, became alarmed by the profligate waste of resources occurring on the American frontier in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1864, he published Man and Nature, warning of the unfortunate ecological consequences of this wanton destruction. This book had several lasting impacts, including the establishment of the National Forest Service in 1873 to protect dwindling timber supplies and endangered watersheds. In 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt, influenced by Marsh's book, moved the Forest Service from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Agriculture, and made his chief conservation adviser, Gifford Pinchot, the new head. This decision situated resource management on a straightforward, rational, and scientific basis. Together with naturalist John Muir, first president of the Sierra Club, Roosevelt and Pinchot passed game protection laws, restructured the national park system, and reconstituted...
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