President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: The First Green Politician

1054 words - 4 pages

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once stated, “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.” As the thirty-second President of the United States, during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war, Roosevelt recognized and addressed the need for conserving and protecting the nation’s natural resources. Roosevelt put forth the necessary effort to not only raise awareness, but also create a change in the literal ‘land’ of the free.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) became U.S. President in 1933, he sought out the advice of modern-thinking experts in many fields in an effort to improve the then current environmental state of his country. It was not only Roosevelt who greatly expected results from these efforts, but his fellow citizens as well. With his long-term passion for nature and interest in the science of forestry and resource management, Franklin D. Roosevelt was particularly shocked by the waste of American natural resources during a time in which his country had such great need. In his inaugural address, he stated his belief on this subject before his fellow citizens, "Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply." This man knew of the rich treasures that lie within the loams and rolling hills of our country. He understood the benefits of its wealth, if employed resourcefully. His initiatives sought to intelligently utilize these resources while creating jobs for out-of-work Americans. Roosevelt’s environmental policies incorporated the emerging field of ecology with federal policies to manage watersheds, maintain forests, teach agriculture, and hold fast the flying soils of the southern plains. The main force behind this federal action was derived from the national surge in unemployment. The economic collapse of 1929 left millions of American citizens incapable of making a living. These unfortunate financial setbacks were most evident in the American southern plains region.

Terrible drought combined with economic difficulty made it practically impossible for many farms in the rural mid-western United States to produce. Residents of Oklahoma fled westward to California, creating resettlement problems on top of already difficult economical and environmental circumstances. In the southern plains, the loose topsoil was lifted by heavy winds creating dust storms of epic proportions. Press coverage of the Dust Bowl of the 1930s presented a natural disaster caused by drought and misfortune. However, government-made documentary films such as The Plow That Broke the Plains, and programs of Roosevelt's New Deal, introduced ecological background to explain desertification and the agricultural practices that could be used to combat it (Black par. 3). Living through this natural disaster, with information from...

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