(Ansel Adams) Remarks Before the Platform Committee on the Democratic National Convention, Chicago, Illinois, August 24, 1968
My name is Ansel Adams–photographer, writer and conservationist–of Carmel, California. l am a Director of the Sierra Club and a member of many conservation organizations, but the opinions I express are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization with which I am associated.
I believe that an enlightened and forceful concept of Conservation would constitute a major plank in the great Democratic Party Platform; to my knowledge other parties have given it only superficial attention.
The fearful problem before us no4 is HOW TO SAVE THIS PLANET AS A WORLD TO LIVE IN, conservation is implicitly, more important than war and peace, politics, racism, national and international problems and jealousies. If the basic portents of ecology, natural and human, are not heeded, man is surely doomed.
If man so pollutes the atmosphere that we are trapped in poisons and so pollutes the waters that neither he nor the total life that uses the biosphere can use. them, if he continues over-reproduction of his kind-so that millions or billions of human beings will be doomed to starvation or will seek tragic salvation in lethal world-wide war, we may be certain that our culture and our dreams of a balanced and secure society will prove meaningless, in every respect, in the not too distant future.
This is the great eat challenge any political party has faced in history. must lace up to the facts. We must give conservation an enormous added dimension. It is not enough to preach “Protect our National Parks and Wilderness domains” or “Preserve the beauty of our highways” or “Support Urban Renewal” etc. These are extremely important, of course, but they would have little meaning should worldwide ecological disaster come upon us. We have entertained a certain euphoria for so long in our relationship with the natural world that we have overlooked the true significance of this world to the urban and rural worlds of man. We have considered and favored some resources and sorely neglected others. What we have preserved is in constant peril from the predatory forces of power, expedience profit and sheer physical security.
Conservation must now become a cooperative principle, not a quasi-cult dedicated to limited objectives (no matter how worthy in themselves). Cooperation means involvement with industry, science, education, architecture and planning, social patterns and recreational demands; in brief, it involves compassionate comprehension of the world as it is. The realities of existence cannot be denied; it is the management of these realities which will preserve our way of life if not our very existence.
Conservation must.be stressed as a powerful economic factor of world society The preservation of our natural and human resources Should be clarified as the prime economic objective Of our time. To zany industrialists, farmers, miners and business men in general, conservation has assumed the pattern of a major threat to their independence, their. rights and their security. This is both ridiculous and in. error; only an enlightened analysis of the true situation will be effective in the end.
It is important to stress the individual’s participation in and his sense of democratic shared possession of the public domain and its essential resources. This involves not merely permissive use and rights but a deep cooperative spirit among all our people to nurture and preserve the resources of the world bestowed upon us in the beginning in so lavish and seemingly inexhaustible divine largesse. We should all remember that the prime question is not “What will conservation cost?” but “What will the ultimate cost be in the conservation of all resources in not fully considered?”
That great conservationist and human being, Margaret Owings, gave me two imperative objectives to include in this statement: (1) To develop “land banks” for the future — holdings that will liberate an impending cramped society and minister to the human heart and spirit; (2) To develop a forceful educational conservation program for young people in the broad field of ecology — a training imperative for the wise use of our resources and the long-term needs of our people.