ESA’s mission is to promote the good stewardship of the world’s environment in a manner that is grounded in conservative principles.
If you are a conservative who still believes in conservation, the public square can feel like it has been mined by all sides and has you stuck in a dangerous no-man’s land. If you recycle or lament the devastation of magnificent species like the rhinoceros, you risk being labeled a different sort of RINO by your conservative kin. Yet, voice your concern about the culture’s moral spiral, an exploding national debt, or the overreach of government regulations and you just might be ostracized by a few of your liberal bird watching buddies.
The good news is that you are not alone. There are many of us out here gently feeling our way. We just need to find each other and get organized. At Earth Stewardship Alliance, we do not claim to be pioneers going where no conservatives have gone before. Thankfully, others have walked this trail and set up outposts along the way. Some of us have dog-eared books by the likes of Rod Dreher, Roger Scruton, Francis Schaeffer, Paul Weyrich, Joel Salatin, or Wendell Berry, and our browsers are set to thoughtful sites such as Front Porch Republic and The New Atlantis. Others of us are not the deep reading sort—and such would be a messy affair because our hands are usually pretty dirty from time spent in the garden, the woods, or the woodshop.
ESA’s approach is not based on moderate principles—indeed, we are rooted in the solid ground of traditional conservatism and want to avoid the quicksand of the mushy middle. Nevertheless, we are all for moderating the tone of the environmental debate so that the real facts, values, philosophies, and policies at issue can rise above the current din of spin driven by name calling and guilt by association. Persuasion tops polemics in our book.
It is our hope that ESA can become an oasis where people who agree with Russell Kirk that “nothing is more conservative than conservation” can gather and muster into what Edmund Burke labeled the “little platoons” that undergird a strong and healthy land. We at ESA don’t think that laws, regulations, and public policy are everything, but we recognize that they are something—and something important enough to be dealt with rightly.
We tend to favor local solutions for local problems but recognize that there are also international issues that should not be ignored just because they are far away. (Hey, if conservatives can’t care about the well being of elephants, who can?) And we stand for the proposition that it is quite possible to be both on guard against schemes that tilt towards socialism yet still concerned that our mismanagement of the planet's carbon cycle is building up big consequences for our children.
Our dream is that many more conservatives will soon step out after taking a look at the bigger picture—much like untold numbers of everyday people did thanks to Apollo 8. On Christmas Eve 1968, the first men to orbit the moon swung around its dark side and then saw their home in a dramatic new light. It was a spontaneous snapshot moment that produced the now iconic “Earthrise”—a photo that would add a surge of nonpartisan emotional power to the fledgling environmental movement below. That night, the first humans to see the earth from this vantage point opened a Bible to the beginning and movingly read its account of creation's first week to hundreds of millions. Afterwards, there may not have been a dry eye from sea to shining sea.
A love of God and for the home entrusted to our care is what motivates us at ESA, and we know that those sentiments are shared by many fellow conservatives. We begin in our own backyards—tending gardens, cleaning streams, living simply—but we owe it to those who came before and those who will come after to help bring wise stewardship to the ends of the earth.
Farm photo by Jeffrey Marshall. The "Earthrise" photo is from NASA. The remaining photos are stock photos.