Back to the Future in the Land of Genghis Khan

By Reidel, Carl | American Forests, May-June 1992 | Go to article overview

Back to the Future in the Land of Genghis Khan


Reidel, Carl, American Forests


If there is one certainty in this last decade of the 20th century, it is uncertainty. Change is the order of the day in the lives of individuals and nations. That is especially so in matters of natural-resource protection and management, given the growing concern about preserving biodiversity and crafting new forms of sustainable forestry.

In the United States, however, we seem locked into present conceptions of such fundamental matters as property fights, the public trust doctrine, and land-use planning systems; we creep timidly into the "new world order" only as events elsewhere force us to change. We are masters at incrementalism, preferring, as I once described it, to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic rather than to ask tough questions about the state of our nation and spaceship Earth.

A colleague of mine has suggested that the problem is one of perspective. We can see ourselves and our environment only from the perspective of another environment. Travel, for one example, can help us see our own home with new eyes. Likewise, we can understand the present only from the vantage of history, or the future.

I suggest, therefore, that we might learn some important lessons if we could somehow escape the present and familiar places. As a kid, one of my favorite books was Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. The idea of taking modern ideas and a Colt revolver back to medieval England fascinated me. What fun it must have been to invent all those modern gadgets back in the past. That youthful fantasy was revived for me by the Back-to-the-Future movie trilogy starring Michael J. Fox, especially the third episode when he goes back to the Old West.

Last summer I took the trip myself! I spent six weeks in the Republic of Buryaria, the homeland of Genghis Khan and, as many anthropologists believe, the ancient homeland of North American Indians. My time machine was a 10-hour flight on Aeroflot from Moscow to Irkutsk, which was as harrowing as Michael J. Fox's ride on the steam train that pulled his time-car back to the future in the third episode. Little did I imagine that only a few weeks after my return, the Soviet Union would disappear.

One of my hosts in Siberia was Oleg Popov, who as deputy minister of forestry is Buryatia's highest-ranking professional forester. Oleg is a bright, affable man about my age (old enough to remember World War II) who loves his job and the land where he lives. Like most foresters in the world, he works and plays hard. He enjoys the fellowship of foresters, good food, and good vodka. We got along famously.

The discussions with him and his staff described in this article include a composite of conversations with other officials in Russia. I expect that Oleg would be comfortable with this extension of his remarks and those of his staff.

Oleg Popov is the Buryat Republic's equivalent of our chief of the U.S. Forest Service and the directors of the Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management combined. Popov, and his counterpart in the neighboring Siberian oblast (state) of Irkutsk, are responsible for an area of land about the size of the U.S. National Forest System. The approximately 200 million acres are divided into several hundred forestry districts and include national parks and wilderness areas, a United Nations Biosphere Reserve, and dozens of smaller nature reserves and wildlife refuges (some a century old).

This Siberian forest is truly a Land of Many Uses, including extensive timber harvesting and livestock grazing; some of the richest mineral deposits and oil, gas, and coal fields on earth; a growing tourist industry; spectacular wilderness; and the watershed of a legendary lake that holds more water than all of the Great Lakes combined. This world-renowned Lake Baikal region contains thousands of rare and endangered plants and animals, most of which occur nowhere else on earth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Back to the Future in the Land of Genghis Khan
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.