The Environmental Decade
We have met the enemy and they are us.
THE decade of the 1960s dawned with a palpable intensification of environmental awareness. John F. Kennedy, using his presidential initiative for a personal as well as a national interest, called a White House Conference on Conservation in May 1962. that focused on developing public policy for ensuring environmental quality. Stirred by Kennedy's ability to inspire the masses and Lyndon Johnson's legislative acumen, the "conservation Congresses" of the period turned out a record volume of conservation legislation. Stewart Udall, Interior Secretary to both Presidents, was a committed environmentalist and talented executive who nurtured the cause by directing federal action and shaping opinion with his popular writings. Official, professional, and lay literature on various aspects of ecology abounded.1
Rachel Carson Silent Spring created a sensation when it appeared in August 1962. In a chapter entitled "Needless Havoc," she wrote that "as man proceeds toward his announced goal of the conquest of nature, he has written a depressing record of destruction, directed not only against the earth he inhabits but against the life that shares it with him." "Black passages" of recent history included the slaughter of the western buffalo, market hunters' massacre of shorebirds, and the near extermination of