Tag Archives: theodore roosevelt

The Presidency: Prime for Preaching

We all know how the federal system works. Although the president is not a tyrannical ruler with an overwhelming amount of power, he (thus far) has a whole lot of power, and a large degree of influence on the citizens of the United States, as well as some others around the world.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, I remember reading about how the Obama family bought a new Ford Escape Hybrid. He did this under pressure, a presidential candidate with an slight emphasis on environmental issues couldn’t drive something dirty. He had to lead to pack in fuel-efficient, low polluting technology. I have not seen the numbers, but I assume that sales went up for this car after Obama bought one. If he is buying it, it must be a good choice, and a smart one for the future.

The thing to note, is that this is a symbolic gesture. In a modern presidential campaign, a candidate travels effortlessly around the country with a huge staff. It a very mobile operation. That means jets, cars, trains to the max. If Obama drove his new Ford Escape Hybrid for the rest of his life instead of something less clean; it would not adverse effect on the pollution from his trips on a 747 in the span of two weeks. Nevertheless, by changing perspective and remembering that Obama is a leader and therefore trendsetter, everyone who follows him in buying a hybrid SUV may offset that. If not, they are on the right path.

In office, Obama has been making smart choices too. The first one hundred days of a presidency–the presidential honeymoon–are a time for a president to get a lot done without a lot of hassle. Obama got a lot done for the environment. For example: tax credits for clean vehicles and home energy usage, the symbolic (but trendsetting) planting of a vegatable garden; the declaration of greenhouse gases as dangerous and the reducation of pollution.

Good work. Obama is placing himself among the green ranks of Jefferson, T. Roosevelt and Carter; while distinguishing himself from such dirty presidents as McKinley, Jackson and Hoover.
It is important to have a president that cares about the environment. Whether we like it or not, the president gets work done, legislation signed and put into effect. In addition, a president can broadcast a green message to the people. The president is someone to follow and learn from; if he goes green, we go green.

While environmental concerns may not be as in-our-faces as the economy of health care, it is in dire need of our attention. If Obama is lucky with those two problems, his next step would be a comprehensive energy program. Carter tried in ’77 and failed miserably. But I say, ‘Yes We Can.’

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Close to home, a debate on what, exactly, are the aims of preservation

Point Reyes oysters are as famed an institution as the verdant peninsula’s happy cows and incongruous elk, but the succulent bivalves might soon become a thing of legend, at least as far as human palates are concerned. The question is raised: are National Parks meant to prevent the imprint of humans on choice bits of nature or is the goal one of harmonious interaction? The debate, of course, is nothing new; , there has been a sharp divide between the conservationists and the preservationists – those that would see nature safeguarded and efficiently used and those that would see it entirely free from the print of humanity – since the first federal act safeguarded a small patch of wilderness.

These are the issues which pit the spiritual mountain girl against the foodie within me. But, in the end, I think I come down the side of the conservationists – Teddy, I’m with ya. Perhaps this is purely species-ist of me; I might just be siding with my kind. But, if I’m honest, it’s because the places that I find truly beautiful are those that are impossible to use for any sane human purpose. The top of Mt. Dana isn’t suitable for human industry, neither is the plain of jumbo rocks in the heart of Joshua Tree. In the end, if conservation was the universal watchword and sustainable methods of farming, irrigation, ranching, and slaughter were used, there would be more open, untouched land to go around. And the land used for industry wouldn’t look – or be – too bad either.