The Genius of the Place
Joseph L. Fisher
Given at Berkeley, California, April 15, 1971
Conservationists over the years have been fond of debating the definition of their subject - what it is and what it isn't. Ecologists have said conservation is concerned with understanding how natural systems operate and can be sustained. Economists have said conservation means a redirection of the use of natural resources toward the future. Engineers have concentrated on the efficiency with which raw materials are employed in production. Architects and planners have dealt with configurations of landscape and buildings in an effort to see them as functional wholes. Activists have been concerned with campaigns to save nature from destruction. Politicians, responding to the imperatives of their profession, have tried to fashion the laws and arrangements about resources they thought the people wanted. Each expressed his own view, each held a portion of the truth, each had a part of the answer.
Long ago President Taft, in perhaps the most famous of all characterizations of conservation, remarked that whatever it is, everyone is for it. The remark seems more apposite today than ever before, but the question implied in the first part has not yet been answered satisfactorily.
The Research-Policy-Action Circle
My purpose is not primarily to reopen the question of definition but rather to offer an interpretation of conservation more inclusive than those of the past and, I think, more useful to the present. I shall seek to cover the full range of natural resources, viewed both as commodities and environment, the social aspects along with the physical, the near-term and the farther-off effects. But mainly I want to look at conservation along another dimension extending from research through policy and on to action. Lest I be accused of linear thinking, regarded by many nowadays as unsuitable for getting at the true nature of things, let me say that I look upon research-policy-action more as a circle: research and analysis open the possibilities for policy; and policy provides the broad framework for fruitful action including some which occasionally may overturn current policy and perhaps even some of the institutions through which all organized effort tends to flow. To complete the circle, the successes and shortcomings of action programs redefine the problems and challenges for another round of investigation and research. But a circle is a kind of line also, and so research, policy, and action may, and usually do, proceed at the same time with regard to the same matter. It would be pleasant to know all the answers before trying them out, but this is not possible and wouldn't be half as much fun. "Think ahead" and "plan ahead" are admirable and workable maxims but most of us learn mainly by doing or trying to do. If research can hold a small lead over policy, and policy over action, rationality will have won a big victory.
Up till now conservation in the United States, both the movement and its leaders, has not achieved an integration of research, policy, and action. Without this integration conservation will continue to fall far short of its potential contribution to the protection of nature and the well-being of mankind. The day has passed when the American people, or people anywhere, can afford the luxury of well-meaning but helter-skelter actions without the guidance of consistent policies, or of well-intentioned but aimless policies that stem from biased research and inadequate factual information.
Examples of the failure to close the research-policy-action circle are numerous. Agricultural policies and actions for the past forty years, for example, have attempted to cut back farm output by restricting the number of acres planted and harvested, overlooking the fact that with crop prices sustained by these and other policies, farmers could increase production by using more fertilizer and farm machinery. Support payments have gone mainly to farm operators with fairly large holdings and outputs while smaller and poorer farmers have not benefited much. Only a very few foresaw this development from the start and the pressures of the emergency were great. One must wonder why the policy was not corrected a long time ago as soon as the results became clear. If this agricultural policy really was designed to limit output and raise incomes where most needed then it was poorly chosen, research on its probable consequence was inadequate, and the feedback from the poor results to further study and policy changes was not operating correctly.
Over the years conservation has been concerned with re search, policy, and action but almost always in a disjointed manner. Rarely have the three been brought together properly to deal with a problem. Generally the activists have dominated the scene. The policies they have pursued typically have been oversimplified, and the research they have used frequently ha been selected to support conclusions already reached. In this country, conservation in the modern sense of the word is almost one hundred years old. During this long period, the emphasis and even the content of conservation have changed, but the inability to integrate research, policy, and action has remained. Only now, as we enter the second century of American conservation, does it seem likely that we shall achieve such an integration.
The "Classical" Period in American Conservation
The past hundred years have seen three culminating periods for conservation. First came the Theodore Roosevelt-Gifford Pinchot period, the "classical" period of which a few old-timers still have fond personal memories. Notions regarding multiple use, sustained yield, resource management, and nature protection which had taken form more from intuition than scientific investigation were translated into significant and innovative laws, regulations, and practices. Forestry led the way, soon accompanied by flood control, parks, licensing of hydroelectric development, and wildlife control. Some of the developments preceded Roosevelt and Pinchot. The American Forestry Association was established in 1875, to be followed shortly by other citizen-interest and -action groups concerned with wildlife, birds, grazing, parks, and - later on - soils, river basins, and other resources. The legislation, executive action, and citizen effort of those times was thinly supported by research, although the Geological Survey had already accomplished a good deal of mapping, and of water and mineral investigations; the Corps of Engineers had accumulated much practical experience in both land and water development; and the Department of Agriculture had begun to turn its attention to several branches of agricultural science. Only recently, when studying air, water, and land pollution, have we realized how little was known about the behavior of ecosystems and their capacity to absorb hard treatment. As might be expected, the policies laid down during this "classical" period were not finely tuned. But they did establish the framework and set the directions within which the country has moved ever since - public acquisition of selected natural areas, government leadership and aid for research and experimentation, regulation of private exploitation of resources, use of taxes and other financial incentives or deterrents, beginnings of management of public lands. The open-endedness of the Western frontier came to a close; awareness of the need to preserve, sustain, economize, and manage had begun to emerge. Pinchot McGee, Powell, Theodore Roosevelt, Mather, and a little later Albright and others - scientists, government officials, businessmen - deserve much credit for pointing the country in a new direction, one which despite much faltering continues on to this day.
The Depression Period of the 1930's
The second culminating period was the depression of the 1930's. The agony of a country richly endowed with natural resources and yet seemingly helpless to put the millions of unemployed to work brought economic and social factors to the center of attention, for conservation as well as for other matters. Jobs and income had to be restored on a massive scale; if gains could be made for conservation at the same time, so much the better. The Civilian Conservation Corps provided a limited but critical amount of employment in parks, forests, and other natural areas; many of the roads, trails, and other improvements resulting from this program are still in evidence. The Tennessee Valley Authority was established in 1933, predicated on the idea of resource development and providing cheap electric power for the people of one of the poorest regions of the country. Rural electrification became widespread and resulted in programs which furnished electricity to virtually all farms in the country. Soil conservation quickly followed, especially after the dust storms of the mid 1930's, although it proved difficult to rationalize this soil-building, crop-increasing effort with the larger effort to restrain production to increase and stabilize prices of basic farm products. Reforestation was expanded, and the Taylor Grazing Act provided the first concerted effort to bring greater order into the use of public and private grazing lands. Large-scale water development projects, like the Grand Coulee project in Washington, were undertaken as yet another way of strengthening the economy. Conservation regulations in petroleum were greatly expanded, especially at the state level, following the catastrophic drop in prices as production from the newly discovered East Texas field came on to a depressed market. Attempts were made also to alleviate distress in the coal- and metal-mining industries. And trying to comprehend the entire picture was the National Resources Planning Board, the high-water mark of comprehensive planning in the United States thus far.
The 1930's brought economic concerns to the fore in conservation; conservationists had to consider the "dismal science" of economics and occasionally found that their own policies and policy objectives had to yield to the shorter-range imperatives of employment, production, and purchasing power which a few years later were formally made primary goals of national policy in the Employment Act of 1946. But as in the "classical" period, the conservation policies and actions of the 1930's with their economic orientation were still thinly supported by competent research; only this time economic and social research was more lacking than scientific research. It took the advent of the Second World War to lift the national economy out of its slump. The 1930's however, made it clear that conservation was more than just saving trees or even utilizing them wisely; it was in the marrow of the economy.
The Environmental Quality Period Circa 1970
The third culminating period is the present time, a few years back and a few years into the future. The fate of conservation for a long time to come hinges on what we conservationists are doing and will do in these few years. Perhaps the fate of the whole earth swings creaking on the same hinge. Having put the matter thus melodramatically, I will add my belief that the key to a good and long future for us all is the integration of research, policy, and action for dealing with our conservation problems of land, water, air, raw materials, wildlife, and natural beauty.
This third period is characterized by a growing concern for the environment of man-more accurately, for the environment including man. The physical and economic aspects, which were central in the first two culminating periods, are no longer enough. Engineering aspects are no more important now than aesthetic; economic aspects no more than ecologic. The most notable aspect, however, is the ethical concern for conservation and environment.
Several things have been responsible for this period of environmental enlightenment. First of all, the natural environment has deteriorated, visibly and palpably, for millions of Americans, and in many instances with alarming rapidity. The air much of the time over most of our cities is foul. Rivers, lakes, and coastal waters carry heavy loads of pollutants; anaerobic conditions are not rare, and water clean enough for recreation is becoming harder to find. With a few notable exceptions, both the urban and the rural landscapes leave much to be desired. Cities are choked with traffic, especially during the commuting hours living conditions in the ghettos are deplorable and in the suburbs frequently monotonous; solid waste disposal is a colossal headache for every city council in the land; noise everywhere is a nuisance, but near airports and major highways it is almost unbearable. More serious than the inconveniences, nuisances, and aesthetic insults are invisible contaminants such as DDT and other persistent pesticides which get into the air and the water, drifting and flowing with them. Worse, they also get into the food chains, concentrating viciously as they move up the chains toward man. Radioactive elements, even more lethal, I also have entered the air, water, and food, as have mercury and a number of other toxic heavy metals. These poisons are not confined to the airshed of a metropolitan area or the watershed of a river system; their beat is the world's atmosphere and oceans from pole to pole.
Of course, the environmental picture is not entirely bleak; a number of exceptions give us hope. Sulfur dioxide over some of our cities is slowly being brought under control and several of our rivers are less polluted than they used to be in certain respects. A few striking examples of town and country planning are environmentally sound and aesthetically pleasing. Legislation passed last year by the Congress aims at reducing the pollution caused by today's automobile by go per cent over a five-year period, and work on the SST has been discontinued. A Council On Environmental Quality now operates in an advisory way at the highest levels of government, and the federal bureaucracy has been rearranged to improve performance in environmental control. States and even cities and counties have followed suit, to coordinate their activities with the federal programs and to deal more precisely with local situations. Numerous private groups have taken up the battle for a cleaner environment. An increasing number of industrial firms have begun reforms, partly on their own initiative and partly in response to governmental incentives and regulations.
But despite all efforts, some of them heroic, the tide has not yet turned; it is still ebbing toward deterioration. The monitoring of most pollutants is not yet on a sufficiently comprehensive and accurate scale to permit a definitive picture to be drawn of environmental conditions, but general direction and outlines seem clear.
In addition to the continued worsening of the objective situation, the crisis is reinforced by a subjective aspect. Large numbers of Americans now expect a cleaner, healthier environment. They believe the technology and the funds are available for doing the job, and the leadership had better produce results. This rapidly rising level of expectation, as much as anything else, has precipitated a sense of environmental crisis and an insistent demand for results. One hopes that this sense of crisis will lead promptly to constructive action programs in which millions of individuals will find outlets for their hopes and energies; otherwise frustration will set in on a massive scale and we shall have missed a grand opportunity.
Much more needs yet to be done if this third culminating period - the environmental-quality period in the history of conservation - is to issue a satisfactory report to posterity. The outcome will depend largely on whether research, policy, and action can be organized properly and trained on the problems. For the moment the will for action may have outrun our knowledge of precisely what to do, at least in many instances. For example, we want to reduce drastically the air pollution from automobiles apparently without giving up automobiles or even cutting down on their size and horsepower; the car manufacturers do Dot know how best to do this or what it will cost. We want to reduce the thermal and other pollution from new electricity-generating plants, and also their unsightliness, but the technical, economic, and behavioral studies have not been made to determine the feasibility and consequences of various ways of proceeding toward these objectives. We want to reduce certain kinds of global pollution of the atmosphere and the oceans, but our understanding of the prerequisites for successful international action is incomplete, requiring insight into the views in less developed countries, socialist countries, developed countries that compete economically with the United States, and so on.
In other instances knowledge, both theoretical and practical, is already available as a basis on which policies can be formulated and actions taken. In some cases the methods already exist but need to be made widespread. For example: if we handled all our farms as well as we do the best ones (allowing for differences in soil, climate, and location), yields and output nationwide would increase by several times and farms everywhere would be models of conservation. The same could be said of the nation's forest land and even of its water resources. And if all parks were handled as well as our best parks, the satisfaction people receive from visiting them would be greatly enhanced.
The weakest leg of my tripod - research, policy, action - may be policy. It is widely conceded, for example, that national policies for energy are full of inconsistencies. Policies have tended to respond to one pressure after another - military security, cost factors, international trade situations, preservation of monopoly position, the political strength of particular states and regions, and more recently ecological and health constraints - without planning or organization. Much of forest and wild lands policy is stalled in a rather fruitless but exhausting dispute over single purpose use versus multiple-purpose use. Much of our mineral policy has long been held captive by a relatively few dominating companies, and our basic mineral laws greatly need overhauling as was recently pointed out by the report of the Public Land Law Review Commission. Policy for outdoor recreation and wilderness is still in its infancy and is far from measuring up to the demands of the people and to desirable standards. A comprehensive and farsighted land policy does not exist in any thought-out way, although we may be nearing a breakthrough in this matter as the more offensive results of the lack of adequate policy in the past come more fully to view. Perhaps under the intensifying public pressure for action and by the use of all facts and analyses available, the policy leg can be strengthened so as to bear its share of the weight. This challenge will test the Council On Environmental Quality during the next few years.
New Thrusts in Conservation
To be viable for the 1970's and beyond, conservation will have to cope with several new thrusts, adapting to them, and shaping them to its own purposes. These thrusts arise mainly from conditions and movements outside of conservation in its narrow sense. To deal with them successfully, conservation will have to understand them. The major thrust, already discussed, comes from environmental protection and management based on ecology and sociology, and is already exerting powerful influence on the decision makers in and out of government. From now on environmental considerations are likely to shape and constrain both policy and action in ways and to a degree hitherto unknown. Furthermore, they will lead research into new fields. From now on no electric utility will be able to select a site for a power plant or locate a transmission line without attention to environmental damages. No automobile manufacturer will continue to shove air pollution problems to the side of his desk. No producer of pesticides or chemical fertilizers will dare forget to reckon with their effects on fish and wildlife or on lakes and estuaries. Conservation leaders have been fairly quick to incorporate ecology into their thinking and their programs, occasionally a bit uncritically, but always with good intentions. Greater sophistication and discrimination, it may be expected, will follow and be reflected in the policies they advocate. After all, the knee-jerk conservationist makes too easy a target.
Several other major new thrusts are not altogether new, but the widespread awareness of them is. They interrelate with one another, and combine to reinforce the environmental thrust. One of these is the rising concern about population. Demographic projections, we have learned, should always be dated. Such projections will be no better than the assumptions about birth, death, and immigration rates on which they are based. Good arithmetic cannot make up for poor assumptions. But for all that, the population of this country is likely to have passed 300 million by the year 2000, despite the rapid decline in fertility rates during the past decade to the lowest level in our history. Recent sample surveys indicate that if women now had the number of children they say they would like to have, birth rates would be such that over the long run the population would just about replace itself; that is, the net reproduction rate would be close to 1. The absolute size of the population would continue upward for the remainder of the century and somewhat longer because of the relatively large number of women in or approaching the childbearing age. Viewed on the world scale population seems certain of continued rapid increase, more than twice as fast as in the United States, for many years to come. The present world population of three and a third billion could become nearly seven billion by the turn of the century. The world pressure on food supplies and other materials will remain strong. Beyond the year 2000 the picture is even bleaker.
Coupled with a population increase - in this country 1 per cent or less a year - is a much larger per-capita rate of economic growth, about 3 per cent a year based on the long-range historical average. The chief sources of increasing productivity include technological advance, better education and job training, and plentiful supplies of energy and other natural resources. Thus, greater productivity rather than larger population bears the main responsibility for the growing demand for raw materials and also for the growing amount of pollution related to production activities and consumption habits. Some further differentiation is needed: for instance, population growth is linked directly with consumption of food and the occupance of space while industrial growth bears more importantly on the use of fuels, metals, and water. In any case, both population and economic growth place heavy burdens on the capacity of the environment to assimilate, dilute, remove, and otherwise cope with the residuals left over from production and consumption.
Another thrust that is causing conservationists to overhaul their programs is summed up in the term urbanization, which denotes not only the increasing proportion of the population living and working in cities and metropolitan areas, but also the slums, poverty, concentration of racial and ethnic minorities, traffic congestion, pollution, and other problems that go with such concentration. Conservation traditionally has been oriented to the countryside and the wilderness; nature was more or less assumed to be where the people were not, or at least not in large numbers. But all this is changing. City people do most of the producing, consuming, and polluting. Much of the conflict over changes in land use occurs in the metropolitan regions. Outdoor recreation more and more is being planned to meet the need of urban dwellers. Even hunters and fishermen are predominantly from town. The new Secretary of the Interior is not a Westerner. From now on hardly any significant resource decisions will be made without taking careful account of their urban consequences, their effects on city folks.
Finally, world conditions and problems have thrust themselves into the field of conservation to a degree and with a persistence that is distinctly new. This country has come to depend increasingly on imports of oil (now around one-fifth of total consumption); iron ore (one-third or more); copper, lead, and zinc (one-half or more each); and numerous other metals (some imported in their entirety). Many less developed countries, while striving to assert national control over their raw materials industries, still depend heavily on sales in the United States market for foreign exchange with which to buy machinery and other import products necessary for their economic development programs. These countries are skeptical of pollution control measures that will raise costs of production; they maintain that the affluent countries which cause most of the pollution and can afford to correct it should look after their own. Those kinds of pollution which girdle the earth will ultimately require international agreements to establish worldwide monitoring networks as well as control standards and enforcement procedures. The protection of endangered species of plants and wildlife, and of superior scenic attractions and historic landmarks, also are of international concern, as are the fisheries and other common property resources in the oceans out beyond territorial limits. To the extent possible without forcing the issue, those countries in earlier stages of economic development should have the opportunity of profiting from the environmental mistakes of the more developed ones.
Each of these new thrusts - environment, population, eco-nomic growth, urbanization, international considerations - as it moves over the threshold beyond which the consequences for resources become severe and even irreversible, poses a challenge for conservation. These challenges can be met by initiatives in research, policy, and action.
The Integration of Research, Policy, and Action: A Few Examples
I shall illustrate the integration of research, policy, and action by describing briefly several situations that call for a planned approach across this broad front. To some extent I shall draw on my own experiences or studies.
The handling and disposal of solid waste constitutes a problem for most cities, including the Washington metropolitan area where I live and carry some public responsibilities. Several thousand tons of discarded paper, boxes, metal, garbage, and trash has to be collected, processed, and got rid of daily. Of course, it can't really be got rid of; it can only be burned, compressed, or otherwise altered in form, and ultimately discharged or transported somewhere else. If the solid waste is burned, at least some air pollution results. If it is ground up and released through sewer lines or directly into water courses, some amount of water pollution is the outcome. If it is hauled away, in compacted or loose form, it has to be dumped somewhere as landfill, in abandoned mines, or at the bottom of the sea.
In the national capital region deficiencies have existed in all three sections of the circle: in research, the problem has not been fully understood; in policy, we do not agree on what to do; and in action, we have trouble putting a practical solution in operation. Right now the public officials of the various states, cities, and counties are establishing a regional solid waste management agency. Success will depend on citizen support and will for action. It will also depend on research to decide on the waste management technology to use, the estimated costs and their allocation, and the administrative machinery that will get the job done. An additional problem is the delicate task of negotiating for suitable disposal sites. All these questions have to be worked on simultaneously; failure at any point can throw the whole arrangement off the track. If the feasibility studies are done too far ahead of time, the technology will be out of date and the cost estimates faulty. If public interest and understanding lag anywhere up and down the line, the votes necessary for interjurisdictional agreements and hood issues will not be available when needed. And if consistent policies are not worked out as the process goes on, the whole scheme will come unglued. A proper integration of research, policy, and action is the prerequisite for establishing a new institution and plan of operation for solid waste disposal in the Washington region, and probably many other regions.
Another example: along with others I have been interested in establishing a park and recreation system on the beautiful, three thousand mile coast of Maine. We envisage a discontinuous system of numerous land and water sites including rocky promontories, forest-covered hills that slope directly to the sea, picturesque coves, offshore islands, and even fresh water lakes for camping and swimming located within a few miles of the ocean shore. Some areas would be quite large; others no more than ten or twenty acres. Perhaps a few fishing villages could be included. No pressure would be put on present private owners to sell. Instead, offers to purchase would be extended without limit of time so that areas would be acquired when owners wanted cash or when wills were probated and deals could be made with the inheritors. Gifts of property would be welcomed directly or through some suitable organization like the Nature Conservancy. Not all areas would have to be owned in fee; long-term lease arrangements, scenic and recreational easements, and perhaps other devices would be acceptable. Still other areas could remain entirely in private hands and be a part of the system as long as specified standards of appearance and operation were met. By scattering the areas out along the long, serrated coastline numerous nearby towns and localities would receive economic benefits from tourist spending. The system would be promoted as a whole; visitors could plan to see and experience the full range of possibilities and be assured of high standards throughout. The one national park on the Maine coast and several state parks could be included by appropriate arrangements with the National Park Service and the state parks agency. Some of the better town parks might also be listed.
To establish such a park system which seems suitable to Maine's situation, it will be necessary simultaneously to generate public understanding, to crystallize the guiding policies, and to decide on quality standards and site selection criteria. The analogy of the conducting of a symphony orchestra comes to mind: the woodwinds could be thought of as research, the strings as policy, and the percussion instruments as action.
A final example, although many more can be thought of, is furnished by the Alaska oil pipeline, now the subject of nationwide controversy. Oil discoveries on Alaska's North Slope have opened the possibility of a major new industry and source of revenue for the state of Alaska and source of oil for the nation. By 1980, it has been estimated, three to five million barrels of crude oil could be produced daily amounting to 10 to 15 per cent of the projected United States consumption. In addition to nearly one billion dollars of bonus money already paid to Alaska by the oil companies which secured leases and with more to come as new fields are proved, the state by 1980 could also be receiving annually a quarter of a million dollars in royalties and severance taxes. Markets for this oil within the United States, if not also in Japan and Northwest Europe, seem assured with rising demand and increasing difficulty in expanding supplies of oil from conventional sources within the country.
But one difficulty has to be overcome: the oil has to be transported from the North Slope to the lower forty-eight states. To do this a large diameter pipeline through which heated oil would be pumped has been proposed running south from the Arctic Coast across Alaska, mostly across wilderness, to the year-round port of Valdez from which the oil would be transferred to tankers for shipment, primarily to the West Coast. The possibility of environmental damages - thawing and settling of the permafrost with the risk of breaks in the pipeline, interference with caribou migrations, clawing up of this long strip of landscape because of construction and maintenance - appears to be sufficiently great that environmentalists and others all over the country have risen up in protest. They have found response from the Secretary of the Interior who has put off the decision until more facts and analyses are available on the advantages and dangers of the project. Testimony is being gathered from many sources on the environmental impact of the pipeline as well as its economic benefits and costs. Alternative means of transportation continue to be advanced such as direct tanker shipment through the Arctic Ocean, or under it by submarine tankers or tows, but these two also pose ecological risks. The risks of other pipeline routes, principally up the Mackenzie Valley in Canada connecting with the midcontinent pipeline system in Alberta, are being analyzed.
In this instance one has the clear impression that action has got too far ahead of reliable information and knowledge about environmental consequences and alternative ways of moving the oil south. Furthermore, certain broad policy decisions came close to being made prematurely. It may be that even now the ecological and related studies critical for choosing wise policies and actions have not yet begun. Here is another instance in which research, policy, and action need to be harmonized in the interests of the people of Alaska, the oil consumers of the country, and all those concerned with protection of the natural environment.
Education for More Effective Conservation
Education will have to play an important role in promoting conservation as research, policy, and action. In putting across a new approach to almost anything, education in its various forms will prove helpful, probably necessary. This is certainly true for the kind of conservation I have been discussing. Good research on ecologic systems, economic options, and management feasibilities will obviously be the base for wise policy and effective action. Without high-quality education to the advanced levels, both research and research personnel will be less than adequate to these tasks. The formulation and testing of policy alternatives require skilled social scientists who know how to apply their analytical tools to the relevant scientific, technical, and social data. They also require persons skilled in making policy decisions up and down the ranks of government, business, conservation organizations, and elsewhere. Their education will have to be of a high order and well tended to.
Finally, the general public nearly all of which is concerned about natural resources and the environment, will have to have a sufficient breadth and depth of understanding to insist on at least minimum levels of factual knowledge, research insight, policy consistency, and administrative competence. For this, general and adult education of quality and reach is essential.
Motivations to improve the environment are running strongly, especially among the youth of the country. Resource conservation is widely seen as needing an infusion of renewed vigor. The national situation at the beginning of the 1970's seems ready for a conservation which combines with research, policy, and action a new emphasis on education to support these other elements and give conservation the additional analytical sophistication, policy relevance, and action thrust it needs for the perilous years ahead.
Introducing: Joseph L. Fisher
An assignment as an Army private for directing the work of a Navy captain was an early indicator of Joseph L. Fisher's ability to combine disparate elements in his career. With the same calm effectiveness with which he carried out this unusual assignment, he subsequently combined a career as a dispassionate and highly analytical leader of research with a personal commitment which has made him a creative elected official in his home community.
He was born in Rhode Island and in 1935 received his B.S. from Bowdoin University, which honored him thirty years later with the award of the D.Sc. Following graduation he spent a year of postgraduate study at the London School of Economics and took his M.A. in economics at Harvard in 1938. After service in the Army during World War II, he completed his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1947. To round out this educational background, he took a second M.A., this time in education, at George Washington University in 1951.
Dr. Fisher served as economist and executive officer of the Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President, from 1947 to 1953. He then joined Resources for the Future, Inc., as associate director and was advanced to the presidency in 1959. As president of RFF, Dr. Fisher is the second successor to the man he recognizes as his mentor in conservation, Horace Albright, who served as its first president and chairman of the board.
Resources for the Future, Inc., is a nonprofit research and educational foundation concerned with the development of natural resources. Under Dr. Fisher's guidance RFF has been remarkably productive in contributing to the understanding of the resource situation, not only in North America but throughout the world. He is the author of Resources in America's Future (1963) and World Prospects for Natural Resources (1964).
As one who believes in participation as well as in scholarship, Dr. Fisher served on the Arlington Planning Commission and has been a member of the County Board of Arlington, Virginia, for a number of years, serving as its chairman in 1965. He is chairman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and a member of the board of trustees of the United Planning Organization for the Washington area. He is a director of the American Forestry Association and also serves as moderator and chairman of the board of trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
Clearly, in speaking on Conservation as Research, Policy, and Action,
Dr. Fisher draws on knowledge born of both action and research.