For a cleaner, more prosperous world, ACC mobilizes conservatives around environmental issues, fostering collaboration in the pursuit of environmental conservation.
It was President Teddy Roosevelt who reminded us of the importance of protecting America’s vast and unique landscapes and resources. He told us to cherish our lands, to “cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage.” Today this topic of environmental conservation is seen as a left-wing issue, however Mr. Teddy Roosevelt, arguably the father of the modern environmental movement, was a conservative. Although the Democratic Party seems to have wielded the reins on environmental policy, the Conservative Sensibility has its roots in being stewards of the environment.
I grew up in West Tennessee, surrounded by extensive nature; most of my family members are lifelong hunters with rifles and bows, and poison ivy, snakes, and bobcats were genuine threats when my friends and I would go outside “to play.” Additionally, we had our fair share of quicksand scares where we frantically would assist one another in escaping, a kind of Terabithian secret adventure that we’ve kept from our parents to this day. The ability to escape into nature, into another world for a time, helped shape me into who I am today and form my relationship with the earth. This fascination with nature has likewise evolved into a passion to study the history of humanity and its relationship with the world as an Anthropology student at my school. Consequent to seeing the interrelation between human society and the environment, I have come to a similar conclusion as the former president; I also believe that nature is a national heritage for our children and theirs, and it should be conserved and tended to.
Unfortunately, many of us have lost this vision, and I have seen this in my own life. Many of the lands I grew up playing on are no longer there. The cows I grew up petting and getting to know have been replaced with subdivisions. The cotton fields and woods I grew up getting lost in have been replaced with concrete strip malls, and the woods and creeks that remain have increasing amounts of plastic, old bottles, and other unrecyclable pollution littered throughout. As someone who favors free-market policy, I see economic growth as synonymous with the integrity of the common good. However, when it comes to how we secure these rights, we must take the security of the environment, our heritage, into greater account.
This is why I adore, and am immensely inspired by, the work of everyone at the American Conservation Coalition, including the introduction of the American Climate Contract. It seems now that everyone in the public eye is focused on fast-paced partisan talking points and infighting; it is exceedingly rare that I ever see someone on television discuss the importance of building coalitions and finding common-sense solutions for such critical issues as the environment.
One of my favorite sections of the Climate Contract is its focus on upgrading our infrastructure, as it relates to my own experience of environmentally-unconscious growth and urban planning. Our country needs to invest in more advanced batteries to make solar and wind more feasible; we also need to expand access to modern, safe nuclear plants. The infrastructure section alone will have far-reaching benefits for the environment. Furthermore, the Contract’s section on natural solutions will be life-changing for many communities. To illustrate, the Contract’s emphasis on sustainable farming practices can secure a stronger future for multi-generational farmers, such as the dairy and soybean farmers that I grew up around. In like manner, natural solutions also include growing our forests and using smart, 21st Century tools for strong forest management.
Anyone who feels passion for taking care of the planet, and is also lost in the plethora of talking-heads and Schrödinger’s social media accounts which may or may not be real, the American Climate Contract can be a home for you as it is for countless others. Let’s band together and start following in Mr. Roosevelt’s footsteps today and build the right coalitions to protect our country’s national heritage.
Dylan Williams is a junior at the University of Illinois where he studies political science and anthropology. This is the ninth installment of “My Contract Story,” an ongoing series on the ACC Blog to tell personal stories of ACC team members and allies about why they support the American Climate Contract. Read previous editions here.