Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Fight for Conservation

Book:The Fight for Conservation
Author:Gifford Pinchot
Edition:eBook from Gutenberg
Read:July 5, 2015
70 pages
Genre:  History, Political
Rated: 3  out of 5

Synopsis:
In this series of essays, Pinchot leads us through why we as a nation should conserve and some of the what conservation is, at least in his eyes.

Thoughts:
When the natural resources of any nation become exhausted, disaster and decay in every department of national life follow as a matter of course. (Chp 1 - Prosperit)y   a nation whose natural resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation, and decay.  (Chp 11 - The New Patriotism)  When will we as America run out of our resources.  In chapter 11, The New Patriotism, Pinchot names essentials: wood, water, coal, iron and agricultural productions. Is this still true today? I think the essence is, with a little renaming, such as energy instead of coal, for instance. If you think about what happened when America became energy dependent on the Middle East and how that changed our politics, you can what would happen if we cannot supply our own food. Decay and decline will follow as Pinchot said.

for the destruction of the forests means the loss of the waters as surely as night follows day.  (Chp 1 - Prosperity). Interesting and that would be a yes. The forests holds in the soils and prevents erosion. If if we have enormous reservoirs, they would fill up pretty fast with silt. Since that time, we also have learned how dependent on the forests for clean air and retaining carbon from the atmosphere. He goes on and shows the opposite is true by saying: 
A river is a unit, but its uses are many, and with our present knowledge there can be no excuse for sacrificing one use to another if both can be subserved. (Chp 5 - Waterways.) He understood the interconnectedness of things, even if the science was not there yet.
 
The most valuable citizen of this or any other country is the man who owns the land from which he makes his living. (Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation). Almost sounds like GK Chesterson here. Only thing GK would have said it more eloquently (such as in
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him in a 1911 newspaper column)


The easiest way to hide a real issue always has been, and always will be, to replace it with a false one.   (Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation). Isn't Pinchot ahead of his time? Or should we say that not much has changed since his time?  This assertion has been repeated so persistently that there is danger that it may be believed.  (Chp 5 - Waterways). This was a theme which Pinchot and Roosevelt had to deal with-false information. We see it today as well.

The conservation movement cannot be checked by the baseless charge that it will prevent development, or that every man who tells the plain truth is either a muck-raker or a demagogue.   (Chp 12 - The Present Battle). IOn Pinchot's view, conservation says that we must not overuse our resources. We must manage it in a way that there will be resources there for tomorrow. But those who want their money now fought to oppose this and exploit as much as they could. They fought with every trick in the book-scandal, witholding funding, name calling, ...
 

The object of education in general is to produce in the boy or girl, and so in the man or woman, three results: first, a sound, useful, and usable body; second, a flexible, well-equipped, and well-organized mind; alert to gain interest and assistance from contact with nature and coöperation with other minds; and third, a wise and true and valiant spirit, able to gather to itself the higher things that best make life worth while.  (Chp 3-Better Times On The Farm) What are we equipping our students to be today? Test takers, not thinkers.


To-day we understand that forest fires are wholly within the control of men.   Chp 4-Principles of Conservation. But there are places where he is not right. Sort of like computer virus', forest fires have a way of outracing human abilities to restrain them. Take a look at the big fires we have today. Even with our technology, we still get huge fires and are racing to prevent the next big one. We have also seen that it was not good to completely do away with forest fires.


There are things higher than business. (Chp 3-Better Times On The Farm)   There are many men who believe, and who will always believe, in the divine right of money to rule     (Chp 10 - An Equal Chance) In a lot of ways, Pinchot had socialistic thinking. The resources are for the people, not a person. It is the common man who should benefit. Reagan's trickle down theories are old, as old as the scoundrels who opposed Roosevelt and Pinchot. There only goal was to make money, and heaven help those in their way. 

 conservation should obtain, when all is said and done, conservation goes back in its directest application to one body in this country, and that is to the children.   (Chp 9 - The Children)   The profoundest duty that lies upon any father is to leave his son with a reasonable equipment for the struggle of life and an untarnished name. (Chp 11 - The New Patriotism) In its simplest form, conservation  looks to what is the future like, capitalism looks to how can I make more money today. Still true and still being fought.

  President Hadley well said that "the fundamental division of powers in the Constitution of the United States is between voters on the one hand and property-owners on the other
     (Chp 10 - An Equal Chance)  Arthur Twining Hadley was the President of Yale, first as a Greek scholar, then an economist, and an expert on railroad tariffs. The question of who owns the land and how did they come to own it is a particular concern to Pinchot. In the West, you could homestead your 160 acres and own the land. What people would do is stake a claim for a property and then quickly sell the property to lumber, mining and rail interests, making the owners rich in property and later on rich in cash.

Danger to a nation comes either from without or from within.   (
Chp 11 - The New Patriotism)  If there be danger, it is not from an external source.  (Chp 11 - The New Patriotism) In 1910, Pinchot viewed there was three great crisis': 1) The American Revolution, 2) The Civil War, 3) Those who deprive the Nation of future resources.  It seems like an overstatement. But at this time, the Nation was coming to a place where it could not expand more, so  how was it to deal with future ws a big question in Pinchot's mind about the future viability as a nation. Could we continue to clear cut forests, strip mine mountains? Or did we need to be conscious of where we are going? His answer was to be conscious of our usage and think about the future uses.



What is Conservation?
  • The object of the great Conservation movement is just this, to make our country a permanent and prosperous home for ourselves and for our children, and for our children's children, and it is a task that is worth the best thought and effort of any and all of us. (Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation)
  • Conservation means the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time.  (Chp 4-Principles of Conservation)
  • The first great fact about conservation is that it stands for development. (Chp 4-Principles of Conservation) 
  • In the second place conservation stands for the prevention of waste.   (Chp 4-Principles of Conservation)
  • The central thing for which Conservation stands is to make this country the best possible place to live in, both for us and for our descendants. (Chp 7 - The Moral Issue)
  • Shall we continue, as a Nation, to exist in well-being? That is the conservation problem.     (Chp 9 - The Children)
Taking these statements as a whole, even though in different essays, one understands conservation not as an end to itself, but as preservation of resources for future development and use. It also means, that the Nation's resources is not just for those who have, but for all. Pinchot's notion is that the land with its riches are for all, not a few; bot for the now but for all Americans, even those in the future. If we think that way, then we think more in terms of sustainability, not in quick gain.

But it also means that preservation is not an end to itself. Later this comes into play where he is in great conflict with John Muir over Hetch-Hetchy. Pinchot saw Hetch-Hetchy as a means for future development, Muir thought it was to be preserved for itself. We still have that argument today. Probably the answer is that it is for both and how we find the criteria is what will be the key question for now and the future.

We can see the divide very plainly. The US Forest Service took Pinchot and went even farther than he thought and was for development and development now. The National park Service took Muir's ideas and it has become hard to do anything which humans do on that land.




There is ...   no interest of the people to which the principles of conservation do not apply. (Chp 4-Principles of Conservation)  I wonder how far you can take this statement.


Who Owns the Nation's Resources?
  • The natural resources must be developed and preserved for the benefit of the many, and not merely for the profit of a few.   (Chp 4-Principles of Conservation)
  • it is well understood that the influence of the corporations in our law-making bodies is usually excessive, not seldom to the point of defeating the will of the people steadily and with ease   (Chp 5 - Waterways)  
  • The conservation movement is calling the attention of the American people to the fact that they are trustees. (Chp 6 -Business)
  •  It[conservation] asserts that the people have the right and the duty, and that it is their duty no less than their right, to protect themselves against the uncontrolled monopoly of the natural resources which yield the necessaries of life.   (Chp 7 - The Moral Issue)
  •  There is no form of monopoly that has ever existed or can exist which can do harm if the people understand that the natural resources belong to the people of the Nation, and exercise that understanding, as they have the power to do.    (Chp 9 - The Children)
It becomes very obvious that Pinchot feels the land is of the people, for the people, by the people. It is not for the rich. The land is to be used for the benefit of those who live on it and each person or family should have a place they could own.

A friend of mine commented 30+ years ago how much the US Government owns of California. He thought it was too much; I thought it was too little. the concerns continue to this day.





Connection between the Common Man and the Nation's Resources
  • Conservation has much to do with the welfare of the average man of to-day  (Chp 7 - The Moral Issue)
  • And unless we win our industrial liberty, we can not keep our political liberty  (Chp 7 - The Moral Issue)
  •  The result is always the same—a toll levied on the cost of living through special privilege.   (Chp 10 - An Equal Chance )
  • we must face the truth that monopoly of the sources of production makes it impossible for vast numbers of men and women to earn a fair living      (Chp 10 - An Equal Chance)
Without the rights to resources and the land, the general public becomes more like the serfs with the kings and lords; or blacks being sharecroppers. Always doomed to servitude and a kind of economic slavery. Pinchot ties liberty to ownership. In our society, what other way can there be? Maybe in a kibbutz type of economy you can get away from personal ownership.
 

Public Good
 


  • A bureau may keep within the law and yet fail to get results  (Chp 5 - Waterways) 
  • I hold it to be his second duty, and a close second, to do everything the law will let him do for the public good, and not merely what the law compels or directs him to do.  (Chp 5 - Waterways) 
  • To every public officer the law should be, not a goad to drive him to his duty, but a tool to help him in his work.  (Chp 5 - Waterways)
  • Recently the attention of our people, thanks largely to President Roosevelt, was focused upon the presence or absence of the common virtues and the common decencies in public life ( Chp 8 -Public Spirit)
  • It is the first duty of a public officer to obey the law. But it is his second duty, and a close second, to do everything the law will let him do for the public good, and not merely what the law directs or compels him to do.      (Chp 10 - An Equal Chance)
Just to think that at one time a great deal of the Republican party felt and thought as Pinchot did. That the law should be instructing public servants and prodding them to do the public good, rather than restricting them from taking action.Today the tension is does the law allow me to do something, versus what does the allow want me to do.


  • It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat (Chp 12 - The Present Battle)
  • Who is to blame because representatives of the people are so commonly led to betray their trust? We all are—we who have not taken the trouble to resent and put an end to the knavery we knew was going on.   (Chp 12 - The Present Battle)
  •  When political parties come to be badly led, when their leaders lose touch with the people, when their object ceases to be everybody's welfare and becomes somebody's profit, it is time to change the leaders. (Chp 12 - The Present Battle)
Today we are more interested in being politically correct according to the standards of our association: democrat, republican, tea party, .... But we only give lip-service to what is good for the country? What is right? What is moral? We seem to be losing our way.



What we need is the use of the law for the public good, and the construction of it for the public welfare.     (Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation ) How many of our laws is not for the common good, but for a small group to get ahead?


I   have known of no case of persistent agitation under discouragement finer in a good many ways than the fight that the women of California have made to save the great grove of Calaveras big trees   (Chp 9 - The Children) Only quoting this because of the reference to Calaveras Big Trees.

  The task of correcting things is based on two things: Honesty of public servants; and 2) publicity of all public affairs-what we would call transparency..  (Chp 12 - The Present Battle). Both of which is always in short supply. I think there is a third and fourth things to correct situations-probably Pinchot assumed these: intelligence and passion.
 


 
Morality of Conservation

  • The conservation issue is a moral issue. Chp 10 - An Equal Chance
  • The war for righteousness is endless, but this is one of the great battles, and its results will endure   Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • Among the first duties of every man is to help in bringing the Kingdom of God on earth.   Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • The conservation issue is a moral issue, and the heart of it is this: For whose benefit shall our natural resources be conserved—for the benefit of us all, or for the use and profit of the few? Chp 12 - The Present Battle
When framed with how the concentration of resources amongst a small group of people, you start understanding why this is a moral issue, not so much because of conserving to save because the item has intrinsic value, but because of the effects greed has upon others. Greed harms both our follow man, but also because it harms the children and their children. This a very man-centric view rather than a pantheistic view.


 wickedness of national waste   Chp 9 - The Children. Just the phrase says what I think. As I consciously waste, I do not bless the God who made these resources. Hence, the wickedness.



Quality of a Man

Great decisions are made or great impulses given or withheld in the life of a man or a nation often so quietly that their critical character is seen only in retrospect. Chp 8 -Public Spirit. We, as individuals or as a nation are defined not only by the great moments, but by the small decisions we make. One thing, does Pinchot say that in order to be a conservationist you also need to hae a moral character? Can you enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while having an ugly heart?

In a day when the vast increase in wealth tends to reduce all things, moral, intellectual and material, to the measure of the dollar; in a day when we have with us always the man who is working for his own pocket all the time; when the monopolist of land, of opportunity, of power or privilege in any form, is ever in the public eye—it is good to remember that the real leaders are the men who value the right to give themselves more highly than any gain whatsoever. Chp 8 -Public Spirit   Amen

 I am assured that the great fundamental difference between men, the reason why some fail and some succeed, is not a difference in ability or opportunity, but a difference in vision and in relentless loyalty to ideals—vision to see the great object, and relentless, unwavering, uninterrupted loyalty in its service  Chp 8 -Public Spirit

The man for whom all the barriers to success have been broken down is not, as a rule, the man who succeeds. On the contrary, conflict is the condition of success. The quality of the man himself decides.   Chp 8 -Public Spirit






Evaluation:
Fight for Conservation is a compendium of essays and speeches given by Gifford Pinchot, one of the founders of the modern conversation movement. Published in 1910-I am not sure if it was before or after the Big Burn, after being expelled by William Howard Taft as being the Head Forester of the US Forest Service, Pinchot lays out his thoughts on how conservation benefits America.
Because this is all Pinchot, there is a good part in that you are reading the thoughts of what conservation is. You are getting the frame work of where we are today with the offspring of Pinchot and Roosevelt's thoughts, such as the ecology movement. On the other hand, as a book, you are only hearing Pinchot's voice and there tends to be reputation. Also much of the conservation movement has not followed Pinchot's thoughts.

As you read him and about him, you realize that today we are a far distance from what his vision was. Today, we want to conserve for the sake of things. Pinchot wanted to conserve so that the common person and future generations could use and enjoy America's resources. Read the book for the man's thoughts, but not for his prose; read for what he wanted for America, not for what the movement has become.

New Words:
  • vicissitudes : a change of circumstances or fortune, typically one that is unwelcome or unpleasant.
  • tenantry: the tenants of an estate.


Good Quotes:
  • First Line: The following discussion of the conservation problem is not a systematic treatise upon the subject.
  • Last Line: I believe the young men will do it.
  • When the natural resources of any nation become exhausted, disaster and decay in every department of national life follow as a matter of course. Chp 1 - Prosperity 
  • The most valuable citizen of this or any other country is the man who owns the land from which he makes his living. Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation
  • The easiest way to hide a real issue always has been, and always will be, to replace it with a false one.   Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation
  • What we need is the use of the law for the public good, and the construction of it for the public welfare.     Chp 2 - Home Building for the Nation
  • The object of education in general is to produce in the boy or girl, and so in the man or woman, three results: first, a sound, useful, and usable body; second, a flexible, well-equipped, and well-organized mind; alert to gain interest and assistance from contact with nature and coöperation with other minds; and third, a wise and true and valiant spirit, able to gather to itself the higher things that best make life worth while.  Chp 3-Better Times On The Farm
  • There are things higher than business. Chp 3-Better Times On The Farm
  •  Conservation means the greatest good to the greatest number for the longest time.  Chp 4-Principles of Conservation
  • A river is a unit, but its uses are many, and with our present knowledge there can be no excuse for sacrificing one use to another if both can be subserved. Chp 5 - Waterways 
  • The central thing for which Conservation stands is to make this country the best possible place to live in, both for us and for our descendants. Chp 7 - The Moral Issue
  • Great decisions are made or great impulses given or withheld in the life of a man or a nation often so quietly that their critical character is seen only in retrospect. Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • The war for righteousness is endless, but this is one of the great battles, and its results will endure   Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • Among the first duties of every man is to help in bringing the Kingdom of God on earth.   Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • In a day when the vast increase in wealth tends to reduce all things, moral, intellectual and material, to the measure of the dollar; in a day when we have with us always the man who is working for his own pocket all the time; when the monopolist of land, of opportunity, of power or privilege in any form, is ever in the public eye—it is good to remember that the real leaders are the men who value the right to give themselves more highly than any gain whatsoever. Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  •  I am assured that the great fundamental difference between men, the reason why some fail and some succeed, is not a difference in ability or opportunity, but a difference in vision and in relentless loyalty to ideals—vision to see the great object, and relentless, unwavering, uninterrupted loyalty in its service  Chp 8 -Public Spirit
  • It is the first duty of a public officer to obey the law. But it is his second duty, and a close second, to do everything the law will let him do for the public good, and not merely what the law directs or compels him to do.      Chp 10 - An Equal Chance
  • a nation whose natural resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation, and decay.   Chp 11 - The New Patriotism
  • The conservation issue is a moral issue, and the heart of it is this: For whose benefit shall our natural resources be conserved—for the benefit of us all, or for the use and profit of the few? Chp 12 - The Present Battle
  • It is a greater thing to be a good citizen than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat Chp 12 - The Present Battle

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