David Broder, the Washington Post columnist and dean of the Washington press corps, once exhorted his colleagues in "the world's freest press to become activists." At Audubon, we take pride in sharing the commitment of our readers to making a difference. Many of you--judging from the letters, e-mails, and phone calls we receive--are not content to sit back in your armchairs merely thumbing through our pages. That's why we try to give you the tools to take action.
Conservation can start at home. In this issue, Brian Lavendel visits with climatologist Jonathan Foley, who reduced his family's carbon dioxide emissions by 65 percent by making energy efficiency a priority in their lifestyle choices, from transportation to appliances ("Green House"). With the collapse of talks on the Kyoto climate-change treaty, the Foleys ought to inspire everyone.
More often than not, conservation must move from the personal to the political. It may mean something as simple as asking your local officials to consider adopting a Bird Conservation Area program like the one I describe in my profile of Governor George Pataki, the moderate Republican from New York ("On Common Ground"). If you want to be a national player, consider the success of the Heritage Forests Campaign, as reported by David Gruber in "The Road Less Traveled" (Field Notes). The Clinton administration received 1.5 million pieces of electronic and paper mail entreating it to preserve 60 million acres of roadless forestland. Conservative Republicans have declared their intention to reverse that decision as part of an overall policy of exploiting natural resources on public lands.
One of my favorite axioms for conservationists is "endless pressure endlessly applied." No matter what form your activism takes, when there's no end to it, politicians ignore you at their own peril.
© 2001 NASI