National Geographic : 2009 Oct
Climbing Redwood Giants--- a saga of discovery in the world's tallest trees---airs on National Geographic Channel, Sep- tember 29 at 10 p.m. ET in the U.S. For behind-the-scenes video of how Nick Nichols made his unprece- dented photographic portrait of a redwood and for more on Mike Fay's transect, go to ngm.com/redwoods. Supreme Court justices, virtually his entire Cab- inet, and members of Congress and 68 profes- sional societies. Never before or since has such a powerful group been assembled in the White House. Opening the conference, Roosevelt said, "You have come hither at my request...to con- sider the question of the conservation and use of the great fundamental sources of wealth of this Nation... It is the chief material question that confronts us." The President tallied the toll on America s resources, including the loss of half our origi- nal timber. He made an eloquent call to rebuild the nation s natural capital, or face hardship. He implored those in a position to exploit nature for excessive pro t to take the moral high ground instead of robbing future generations. At that time, a century ago, there were only about 300,000 white-tailed deer le in the entire United States. Today, even though the human footprint has increased exponentially, there are perhaps 30 million. is rehabilitation, in which states managed hunting, reintroduced the ani- mals in hundreds of places, and restored habitat, has been so successful that many now consider whitetails a pest. e deer story Roosevelt helped inspire is a clear and simple demonstration that conservation can vastly increase the renewable resources we ve hammered and wasted since Europeans arrived in North America. Here is my message: President Obama, con- vene your own White House conference. e objective would be to build on what s being done in the redwoods and design a Marshall Plan for the proper use of all the natural assets in the United States. People will try to dissuade you, saying we can t possibly afford to think about saving nature when the world is mired in an economic crisis, confronting wars and the threat of nuclear terrorism. President Roosevelt, too, had his challenges---Japan and Russia at war, monopolists to control, the Panama Canal to build---but he understood that con- servation was the principal material question facing humanity. In the 21st century, as we face the conse- quences of global warming, this is even more vitally true. We need to generalize this simple notion: Rebuild our natural capital thoughtfully and reap the bene ts. With increased produc- tion for humanity also come healthy ecosystems and global balance. We can---and must---do this not just with our forests and wildlife but also with the sh in our oceans and streams, the soils on our farms, and the grass in our pastures. e redwoods can show us the way. j Clear-cuts eat into stands of 55-year- old spruce, r, and redwood trees on Green Diamond company land in Humboldt County. California regula- tions require compa- nies practicing such even-age manage- ment to leave bu er zones between cuts and around streams.