America has had a number of presidents over the centuries with immense contributions in making the country what it is today. However, each may be celebrated in different ways depending on their specific contributions to the making of the nation. While the Americans have never agreed on the best president to govern the country (Lansford, 2005), there is no doubt that individuals base their rating on issues close to their hearts. In this regard therefore, when it comes to environmentalism and conservation issues, Theodore Roosevelt is probably the best President the country has ever had. President Theodore Roosevelt is not only the first U.S president to have instituted environmentalism in the country’s political debate but he left a towering legacy on environmental and conservation issues that no other president has ever come close to replicating.
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According to Lacayo (2006), Roosevelt’s love for environment did not start on his ascendancy to power; he had always been a naturalist from a very young age. For instance, The Roosevelt Museum of Natural History started by Roosevelt when he was only eight years old was a major contribution of one of the youngest Presidents in the record of the United States. While he hunted and sometimes killed many of the animals he had captured, his expeditions were purely for study purposes and not for fun. In fact, he is known to have strongly objected to hunting as a sport and dedicated most of his energies towards conserving nature. As President, he was credited with establishing the U.S. Forest Service and securing over seventy natural areas, officially designated as wildlife refuges, natural monuments, or national parks.
As the U.S. president in the turn of 20th century, Theodore Roosevelt’s influence on environmental issues was felt throughout the century. With the powers bestowed on him by the American people, Roosevelt shaped his naturalist ideologies into policies that can both be protected and defended by the American supreme law. Having surrounded himself with equally environmentally-conscious friends and aides like John Muir, environmentalist and Sierra Club founder and Gifford Pinchot, head of American Forest Service, Roosevelt placed the parklands under the control of Federal Government and formulated tough measures to ensure strict controls over use of woodland for commercial purposes (Brinkley, 2009). Roosevelt is widely known to have changed America’s view of environment. A majority of the Americans believed that their country’s natural environment was a combination of resources designed for agricultural or industrial use. Roosevelt changed their view and made them believe that the environment was mainly for conservation purposes and protecting natural spaces and creatures .On his departure from the White House, Roosevelt recognized that his generation had a right and probably a “duty” to utilize the country’s natural resources, he equally observed "… I do not recognize the right to squander them, or to deprive, by uneconomical use, the generations that follow us".
There is no doubt that the late Theodore Roosevelt was a visionary leader and had foreseen what the wanton destruction of our environment by man could lead to when he remarked: “what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil and the gas are exhausted, when soils have been . . . washed into the streams, polluting the rivers "(Lansford, 2005). With the numerous global environmental problems bedeviling the current generation, it is perfectly right to conclude that Roosevelt lived centuries ahead of his time. While indecision and greed as been the hallmark of the current global leadership, reading about the late President Roosevelt’s contribution to the environmentalism leaves little doubt that he would have responded boldly to the global warming, wanton destruction of rainforests, and the general degradation of our biodiversity and natural habitats.