I was browsing through The Aggie website when an article, “Master gardeners emphasizes sustainable, water-wise gardening,” caught my attention. After reading a couple paragraphs, the methods and content reminded me of a debate from my environmental history class; the topic was Conservation vs. Preservation of the land and its natural resources. This was brought up when the first national park was opened; two advocates, Gifford Pinchot for conservation and John Muir for preservation, argued how the land and the natural resources within the park should be handled and used. Although the two principals focus on protecting nature for future generations, there is a fundamental difference in the way they go about it.
Preservation is reverting nature back into its primal state in which human influence and presence is nonexistent, while conservation focuses on environmentally-sustainable practices to directly ensure the wellbeing of the ecosystem while providing the most use to the public. The article is a prime example of conservational methods, informing people how to tend gardens, as well as sustainability. They covered basic knowledge about gardening, water conservation techniques and knowledge about what type of plants would thrive in certain settings. The article shows a direct human approach toward taking care of the environment while minimizing human impact.
Nowadays, I believe that society as a whole is leaning towards conservative ideas and policies. As we see more and more people and projects focusing on sustainable techniques and methods while maximizing our use of resources, like water and electricity, we also see more campaigns to limit the amount of industrial waste produced by factories, protests against certain construction sites, and spread the information to make the public more environmentally aware. More and more groups are dedicated to the “green movement,” reducing our carbon footprint and encouraging research and application towards green technology such as renewable energy and recycling.
I believe the reason why people lean towards these kind of policies, directly involving ourselves with the wellbeing and management of our environment, has less to do with preserving the “wild, pristine state of nature” and more with how aware we are of our impact of the environment. There are all kinds of messages and statistics that made us increasingly aware of how various aspects of our society, from our local households to industrial factories, have affected the environment over the years. Such messages showcase a disaster, like the BP oil spill, or studies of the accumulation of pollutants that we have released over the years.
I believe it due to these messages that society as a whole perceives most forms of natural crises to have resulted from our hands in one way or another and that we must take responsibility for our actions. There is also the message that if we do not actively undo the damage and pursue a greener lifestyle, we would evidently cause irreversible environmental damage and climate change. Thus it is no longer a concern about the aesthetics or beauty of the wilderness, but a matter of survival.
I see this article as a sign of where our current mindset is heading, where our belief in what our role in the environment should be, and our image of nature. Thus it is my thought that as the world changes, a tremendous amount of pollution is released each day, and energy demands increase, that I take care to do my part and properly manage the garden. Hopefully, I would be alone and just be one of the many who are encouraged to engage in a greener lifestyle and an environmentally friendly way of thinking.
Second-year history major