And now, first and foremost, you can never afford to forget for a moment what is the object of our forest policy. That object is not to preserve forests because they beautiful, though that is good in itself; nor because they are refuges for the wild creatures of the wilderness, though that, too, is good in itself; but the primary object of our forest policy, as of the land policy of the United States, is the making of prosperous homes. It is part of the traditional policy of home making in our country. Every other consideration comes as secondary. You yourselves have got to keep this practical object before your minds: to remember that a forest which contributes nothing to the wealth, progress, or safety of the country is of no interest to the Government, and should be of little interest to the forester. Your attention must be directed to the preservation of forests, not as an end in itself, but as the means of preserving and increasing the prosperity of the nation.
We of an older generation can get along with what we have, though with growing hardship; but in your full manhood and womanhood you will want what nature once so bountifully supplied and man so thoughtlessly destroyed; and because of that want you will reproach us, not for what we have used, but for what we have wasted...So any nation which in its youth lives only for the day, reaps without sowing, and consumes without husbanding, must expect the penalty of the prodigal whose labor could with difficulty find him the bare means of life.
-Theodore Roosevelt, Arbor Day - A Message to the School-Children of the United States, April 15, 1907
It is possible to regulate watercourses over any given distance without embankment works; to transport timber and other materials, even when heavier than water, for example ore, stones, etc., down the centre of such water-courses; to raise the height of the water table in the surrounding countryside and to endow the water with all those elements necessary for the prevailing vegetation. Furthermore it is possible in this way to render timber and other such materials non-inflammable and rot resistant; to produce drinking and spa-water for man, beast and soil of any desired composition and performance artificially, but in the way that it occurs in Nature; to raise water in a vertical pipe without pumping devices; to produce any amount of electricity and radiant energy almost without cost; to raise soil quality and to heal cancer, tuberculosis and a variety of nervous disorders... the practical implementation of this ... would without doubt signify a complete reorientation in all areas of science and technology.
Guns have metamorphosed into cameras in this earnest comedy, the ecology safari, because nature has ceased to be what it always had been -- what people needed protection from. Now nature tamed, endangered, mortal -- needs to be protected from people.
And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
We cannot cheat on DNA. We cannot get round photosynthesis. We cannot say I am not going to give a damn about phytoplankton. All these tiny mechanisms provide the preconditions of our planetary life. To say we do not care is to say in the most literal sense that we choose death.
There are two principles inherent in the very nature of things, recurring in some particular embodiments whatever field we explore - the spirit of change, and the spirit of conservation. There can be nothing real without both. Mere change without conservation is a passage from nothing to nothing. . . . Mere conservation without change cannot conserve. For after all, there is a flux of circumstance, and the freshness of being evaporates under mere repetition.
Modern man's capacity for destruction is quixotic evidence of humanity's capacity for reconstruction. The powerful technological agents we have unleashed against the environment include many of the agents we require for its reconstruction.