Conservation is for Everyone
As early as 1906, conservation has been part of America’s priorities. President Theodore Roosevelt was the first president to have a serious interest in preserving our natural resources. During his presidency, he set aside 230 million acres for purposes such as national parks, bird sanctuaries, forest reserves and national monuments. The American Antiquities Act of 1906, created under his administration, allows presidents to declare federal lands for such purposes. Among other accomplishments, President Roosevelt developed the United States Forestry Service and signed into law the creation of five national parks. In the 1930’s President Franklin Roosevelt continued the conservationist ideals of his predecessor. In 1937, the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration act was passed, providing funding for states to develop and implement their own conservation projects. Protecting our natural resources was a topic on which both republican and democratic presidents agreed.
Then came the 1970’s, and with the creation of the FDA, politics entered the world of conservation. Of course, when that happened, a topic on which people agreed became a topic on which people became divided. Has politics ever helped anything? Conserve is the root word of conservation and conservative, but conservatives for the most part have made conservation a liberal issue. What a shame. I learned of a group called REP America (Republicans for Environmental Protection), and they do believe in protecting our natural resources. Their philosophy reads: “We are Republicans. We share a deep concern for the environment. We know that a healthy environment and a sound economy are both essential to our nation's prosperity. We believe that by working together, we can preserve both our environment and our economy for current and future generations of Americans. We support and vote for Republican candidates who share these values and concerns.” Before researching this topic, I didn’t know this group existed. I wish they had a larger presence and a louder voice in the party.
Conservation should not be a political issue. We have one planet to call home and we are destroying it at a rapid pace. Rainforest deforestation is a huge issue, as 40-75% of all biotic species are indigenous to them. Did you know that 28% of all our oxygen comes from rainforests? Clean water is a big problem in third world countries, but water availability is becoming a problem, even in America. Some of our great rivers no longer make it to the ocean, and draught has become a big problem in many of our cities. It is a clear fact that we cannot drill our way to energy independence, so rather than protecting big oil interests, why are we not investing more of our federal resources in wind, solar, geothermal and biomass? Politics, that’s why. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for no more than six months worth of oil is not the answer. Ask the victims of hydraulic fracking in Pennsylvania what they plan to do since they can no longer drink or even bathe in their water due to methane gas and other chemicals polluting their wells. We must protect and conserve our natural resources and come together as people, not political parties, who refuse to sell out our planet for the monetary gain of a few. Energy is a necessity for everything we do in our day to day lives, but clean, sustainable energy is a solution we can not afford to ignore. I hope we make our voices heard, not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.