THIS AUGUST ISSUE has beennlong in the works. Supported by angenerous grant from the William H.nDonner Foundation, which has underwrittennthis entire issue, we were ablento hold a little meeting at the DrakenHotel in Chicago in January. To discussnthe question of environmentalnethics, we assembled a diverse group ofnpeople, almost none of them known toneach other. In addition to the Chroniclesneditors (Katherine Dalton, TheodorenPappas, Chilton Williamson, andnmyself), we brought together John Baden,none of the foremost free-marketnenvironmentalists, Andrew Kimbrell, anpartner of Jeremy Rifkin’s at ThenFoundation on Economic Trends,nWilliam Jordan of the Wisconsin Arboretumnand a founder of the ecologicalnrestoration movement, novelist andnoutdoor writer William Mills, FredericknTurner, whose poetry and essaysnhave appeared frequently in this magazine,nand Michael Warder, executivenvice president of The Rockford Institute.nThe conversation was always livelynand often pointed, and there werengaping fissures — never to be bridgedn—between Andy Kimbrell and JohnnBaden, but the group did basicallyncome to something like agreement onna number of points. The first and mostnimportant point was, more or less,nmetaphysical: radical environmentalismnhad gone sour on humanity, whichnit saw as an evil force lying outsidennature. A proper environmentalist ethicnwould have to be grounded in anrecognition of man’s place in (as wellnas outside of) nature. A part of beingnhuman, we agreed, was our interest innother forms of life, and I think we werenall impressed by E.O. Wilson’s Biophilia,nin which he argues that man isnby nature a naturalist. Although ProfessornWilson was unable to attend thenmeedng, his work formed one of thenbasic premises of the discussion.nIf man is and must be an importantnconsideration for any environmentalism,nschemes that go against the grainnof human nature are doomed, not justnto fail but to do enormous harm. ThenCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnmost obvious antihuman policies havenbeen based on a contempt for propertynrights. In work done by Garret Hardinnand John Baden on “the tragedy of thencommons,” it had been shown thatnproperty held in common (especiallynby large groups) was far more likely tonbe abused than privately held land. Itnwas essential, we agreed, to restore thensense of land ownership both in thenliteral sense and in the broader sensenof local (as opposed to national) control.n”Think globally, act locally,” wasnthe watchword, although I havenreservations about even thinkingnglobally.nWe talked about a great manynthings, particulariy the need to appealnto the imagination and to the aestheticnsense. As important as economic andnlegal arguments were, no human-centerednenvironmentalism could succeednif its arguments were confined to cost/nbenefit calculations. Above all, whatnemerged was an appreciation for whatnman could do, if he put his mind to it,nto undo much of the harm he hadndone. While so much environmentalismntoday would tell human beings tonget out and stay out of the woods andngrasslands, confining our activities tonthe strictly negative function of doingnno harm. Bill Jordan and the restorationistsnare offering us an opportunitynto use science and technology in restoringndegraded land and cutover forests.nAs tempting as it is to turn ournbacks on the science and technologynthat have helped to pollute the world, itnis vitally important to press them intonservice. As Fred Turner pointed out,npart of being human (and Western) isnour enthusiasm for challenges and thenconviction that there is little we cannotndo. Restoration efforts will not onlyndraw out what is best in the Americanncharacter, they will also reinvolve usnactively as a partner in nature. What isnneeded, argued both Turner and Jordan,nwas the modern equivalent of thengreat landscape gardeners of the 17thnand 18th centuries.nAlthough the purpose of the meetingn(and of this issue) was to lay thenfoundations for a conservative ethic ofnnnenvironmentalism, only half the participantsncould really be described asn”conservatives.” This was partly out ofna desire to have a lively debate — andnno one is livelier in debate than Mr.nKimbrell—but partly because of thendearth of serious thought on the right.nThe knee-jerk conservative response isnto make light of the dangers and makenfun of the Greens. While this skepticismnhas occasionally thrown a healthynbucket of cold water on the hystericalnprognosticators, it has generally revealedna mentality that can see no goodnbeyond this year’s balance sheet. An”bottom-line” conservatism is simplynunable to grapple with most of thenserious problems that confront us: environmentalncrises. Third World overpopulation,ncrime, immigration, andnthe general deterioration of standardsn— cultural and moral — in Americannlife.nYears ago, back in 1976, I began anlong letter to a leading conservativenjournalist. What I wanted to knownthen, and I still want to know now, isnwhy conservation is not a primarynconservative cause. Answering that andnrelated questions took me farther andnfarther away from the rhythms andnforms of Greek poetry and drama andnmore and more into the realms ofnphilosophy, social theory, and politicalnissues, the themes that occupy so muchnspace in this magazine.nI had always hoped that some conservativengroup would make environmentalismntheir issue, but the onlyngood work I could discover was beingndone by the free-marketeers/libertariansnat FREE (John Baden) and PERCn(Richard Stroup and Jane Shaw). Andnwhile there are other, noneconomicndimensions to this question, these peoplenare pioneers who braved both thenanger of the left and the contempt ofnthe right. It was not until this year that Inreturned seriously to the questionnposed in the letter that I never sent,nand I offer you this issue as a first,nfumbling attempt to wrestle with thenquestion.n— Thomas FlemingnAUGUST 1990/7n