A Conservationist Manifesto by Scott Russell Sanders

By Scott Russell Sanders

As an antidote to the harmful tradition of intake dominating American lifestyles this day, Scott Russell Sanders demands a tradition of conservation that permits us to get pleasure from and protect the area, rather than devouring it. How may possibly we shift to a tougher and dependable lifestyle? What adjustments in values and habit should be required? Ranging geographically from southern Indiana to the Boundary Waters desert and culturally from the Bible to billboards, Sanders extends the visions of Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Rachel Carson to our personal day. A Conservationist Manifesto exhibits the the most important relevance of a conservation ethic at a time of mounting trouble approximately worldwide weather swap, depletion of ordinary assets, extinction of species, and the commercial inequities among wealthy and negative international locations. the real message of this strong ebook is that conservation isn't easily a private advantage yet a public one.

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Since every item shipped to stores or to our front doors rides on petroleum, living lightly means buying as much as we can from local growers, makers, and merchants, instead of transnational corporations. It also means buying only what we need, avoiding fashions, learning to mend whatever we own and to make it last. It means seceding, so far as possible, from the global economy, which cares neither for the fate of the planet nor for the health of particular places. The ark-builders understand the link between consumption and devastation: the more we consume—of gasoline, junk food, clothing, containers, electronic toys—the more the planet must be mined, bulldozed, clear-cut, and paved.

In light of this wisdom, fish in the sea are only a resource so long as their breeding grounds are preserved and their numbers are not decimated. Clean air and water renew themselves only so long as we do not fill them with poisons. Topsoil is a resource only so long as we do not sterilize it with chemicals or squander it to erosion. Coal, oil, 47 Caring for Earth iron ore, and the other materials we drill for or mine are not resources at all, because they cannot be replenished. Nor is money a resource, because it brings nothing into the world, it merely divvies up what’s already here.

This attitude may sound quaint in our time, when individuals and corporations seek to patent or copyright everything on Earth, from the human genome to campfire songs. Yet only half a century ago, Jonas Salk refused to claim a patent on the polio vaccine, and today, this regard for the common good is showing up in new initiatives, such as the development of open-source software or the creation of a free digital library on the internet. When the American experiment was still young, and still infused with revolutionary idealism, Tocqueville found citizens eager to serve the common wealth: Thus, the most democratic country on the face of the earth is that in which men have, in our time, carried to the highest perfection the art of pursuing in common the object of their common desires, and have applied this new science to the greatest number of purposes.

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