Stewart Udall – The Quiet Crisis (1963)


“Between last Earth Day and today–in fact, in March, during the final healthcare votes–Stewart Udall died. He was appointed by President Kennedy to serve as Secretary of Interior in 1961, and stayed under President Johnson until 1969, just before the first Earth Day. He was an environmental pioneer, part of the transition from conservation to environmental activism. The first environmental laws were passed, or were proposed (and passed soon after the first Earth Day, in the Nixon administration) on his watch. Udall also wrote one of the pioneer books on the environment, though The Quiet Crisis is not much remembered. It followed by a year the first environmental classic and best-seller, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Udall’s book took a more historical view, chronicling American conservation efforts. But crucially it also took a wider view, beyond chemical pollution to the total environmental effects of the growth-at-any-cost economy: ‘In a great surge toward ‘progress,’ our congestion increasingly has befouled water and air and growth has created new problems on every hand. Schools, housing, and roads are inadequate and ill-planned; noise and confusion have mounted with the rising tempo of technology; and as our cities have sprawled outward, new forms of abundance and new forms of blight have oftentimes marched hand in hand.’ Although it preserves sign of hasty writing, The Quiet Crisis remains remarkable in the appropriate breadth of its content. He dealt not only with facts but the underlying and overarching philosophy. He elevated the work of Aldo Leopold and his ‘land ethic’, now acknowledged as a central figure in even contemporary environmentalism, into public policy discussion. He went after examples of air, water and soil pollution–and assembled the first official endangered species list–but he also looked to the historical and spiritual sources that support and sustain attention to the natural world. He could be eloquent on this topic. ‘To pursue his vision more intently, Emerson steeped himself in Plato, Goethe, and fresh air. The easiest wayh to develop Olympian insights was to turn the mind into an aeolian harp and attune it to the winds and sounds and rhythms of nature.’ In this book, he also dealt with urban environments as well as wilderness, with needed legislation and individual action. That the book has an introduction by President Kennedy shows that the environment was on the agenda almost a decade before Earth Day. …”
60’s Now
W – Stewart Udall
NY Times: Stewart L. Udall, Conservationist in Kennedy and Johnson Cabinets, Dies at 90
amazon


In 1965, Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall, second from left, discussed parks in New York with Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr., left, and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Jacob K. Javits.

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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