Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The History of the Conservation Movement PART 3: Awareness to Action

A pervasive theme throughout this series has been the related opposing ideas: interconnectedness and the illusion of separateness. As we move on and reflect upon the efforts that brought us to where we are, it is important to think about this theme that reoccurs. In actuality, the earth, the ecosystems, the species, and the elements all depend on each other. The illusion of separateness that infects the perception of many people hinders progress on the conservation efforts. We must move past the idea of separateness to really advance forward in all areas of life.

After centuries of turmoil and atrocity in North America, the "New Americans" faced a dilemma of ecological damage. The damage from ecological invasion to the natives and their land was devastating. The reckless deforestation, slaughtering of native animals, introduction of new domesticated animals, and sicknesses carried from Europe lead to conditions that called attention for change. Columbus became aware of the impact that deforestation had on the decreased rain patterns. Even before the genocide of many Native Americans, cultures around the world understood the importance of their impact on their surroundings. People understood the importance of soil quality and erosion through practicing the rotation of crops, using natural fertilizer, and terracing. People eventually learned the importance of clean water and preventing pollution. People also switched to coal after realizing the devastating consequences of deforesting.

Many Europeans and New Americans began circulating their writings and photography to draw awareness to the need to protect nature. Congressmen began speaking out, the Department of Interior was created, and National Parks began to be established - change was emerging. People began taking part in preserving the land. I think it is very important to look at the progress that was implemented by the people, not the ones with power. People must question the flaws within society and be weary of the accepted perceptions that are not challenged. If we do not know what is right, how can we stand up for what we believe? It is important that each of us know what we believe so we can fight for it. Otherwise, we are just passive observers that have no right to complain about the conditions we struggle against.

The era of the hippies, seen by many as the start of the conservation movement, was a time calling for change much like today. Today we have more knowledge from massive failures and increased awareness and acceptance of the impact humanity has on the earth. As we journey through the twenty-first century, I would like to see that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past, but learn from them. Moving ahead with the knowledge and perseverance to accomplish what others may think is impossible. I think we are already witnessing a true revolution in how humans view their impact on the earth and their mission to change it. "Green" has become a very trendy term for describing natural living and returning to our roots, trying to live with the ideals that the Native Americans have imbedded in their culture and beliefs. The Native Americans have so much to offer us about how to live sustainably. We must be thankful for the lessons that have taught us and can continue to teach us as we strive to protect Mother Earth.

Although this series, perhaps improperly titled, became more of reflection than an actual history recall, I feel that it has been helpful in thinking a little bit about where we have come from. I purposely did not call this entry a conclusion because I know that I will return to this topic again and again. Action does not end. We must always be willing to participate in the act of life. Remember the triple A's: awareness, acceptance, and action!

Happy Earth Day :)


  1. I have enjoyed reading your work a great deal. E W's readers and I do hope you will (as you say) return to this topic again and again. Your a wonderful writer Kandace I don't think I've ever read anything that tells this important story the way you have. Bravo!!!!!


Always welcome.