Inspiration for the Conservation Movement comes from a long stream of American thought that is itself contradictory. The movement often has been viewed as being at odds with the predominant political economy built on what Morris Udall called the myth of superabundance, alongside deeply held values of individualism, private property, utilitarianism, limitless growth, and constant progress.

The sometimes confusing streams of conservation thought and their relationships with science, ethics, planning, and economics form a complex field of historic action with significant political ramifications, ranging from outright rejection of laissez-faire politics and economics to practicing wise use of resources and amelioration of environmental damage.

Although early-19th-century writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as artists such as George Catlin and John James ...

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