Champions of conservation

April 25th will mark the 29th birthday of Earth Day. We have to many to thank for championing the cause for mother earth and all her creatures. By living their beliefs of simple abundance and harmony, these pioneers celebrated Earth Day everyday. Who were these pioneers and what lessons can we take from their lives?

Mostly they were individuals who lived their lives fully and passionately-- following their dreams. They were housewives and fathers, farmers and photographers, politicians, educators, attorneys, landscape architects, scientists and authors. They were just plain folks with a vision, really no different than you and I.

These very focused individuals share some common threads: a love of nature and a more simple way of life; an understanding that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm; and a willingness to stand up for what they believe to be morally right. Many people believe environmentalists are radical left-wingers-- standing in the way of jobs, progress and industry. History has already proven that theory wrong several times over and will continue to do so. Argue away; many species will cease to exist without concerted effort to save them and we may just be at the top of the list!

Who are some these left-wing idiots? Let's take a look:

Ansel Adams-- known for his stunning black & white photographs of the stark wilderness of the High Sierras. His work set the standard for black and white photography-- admired to this day on calendars, screen savers and posters and is well known throughout America and abroad. He endured a great deal of criticism for having the gall to compile an ¦uvre of brooding landscapes free of reference to people. He was told once his work lacked intimacy in a postmodern world.

Rachel Carson-- A reserved & quiet person, she taught zoology at the University of Maryland. She later became the center of a firestorm when she published her life's work Silent Spring, prompting federal agencies to ban DDT and control other contaminants dangerous to man and wildlife. Called a cultist and a spinster by the food and chemical companies, they blanketed her book as a hoax. Audubon Magazine credits this woman ''As having had the skill to penetrate to the roots of biological reality and make her findings known.''

Bruce Babbitt-- Secretary of the Interior since 1993. A leader in restoring and preserving national parks in the west. He also helped reintroduce a wolf population in Yellowstone National Park, helped tear down several harmful dams and brokered an historic agreement to protect the Florida Everglades. A modern day environmentalist, well liked, he understands the need for progress yet helps preserve the wilderness.

Jimmy Carter-- ''No president since Teddy Roosevelt has done more for the protection of public land,'' says the Audubon Society. He convinced Congress to pass the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, and protected 104 million acres in Alaska-- the single largest conservation initiative in US history. Also signed laws to prevent strip mining of public lands and created a Superfund to help clean up environmental messes.

Theodore Roosevelt-- As president for the first eight years of this century, Roosevelt did not just talk about conservation, he threw the full weight of office behind it-- creating national parks and wildlife refuge sites. Always stating that he conserved the sites not for nature but for the people. At the time that he left office he had created 51 biologically significant sites and expanded the national forest from 42 million acres to 172 million.

Gaylord Nelson-- Senator from Wisconsin whose 18 years in the Senate were crucial to nearly every major piece of national environmental legislation from 1963 to 1980. He gave us Earth Day!

R. Buckminster Fuller-- architect. His signature invention is the geodesic dome. His concept of domes and theories of global ecology and simplicity go together. The geodesic dome, one of the most cost- effective structures ever designed, exemplifies his life and beliefs. Fuller established the ''Inventory of World Resources, Human Trends, and Needs,'' a compendium of decades' worth of research on population, renewable resources, poverty, and other environmental factors.

Environmentalist, ecologist, human being, man, women-- the pieces are interchangeable. An environmentalist: An individual who is living their life and making their own special contribution and only wanting to leave the world a better place for having been in it.

Till next time, Rebecca.

Uploaded to The Zephyr website April 20, 1999

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