Historical Roots of Sustainability (pre-1960)
The pre-1960 roots of sustainability are derived from the romantic, preservationist, and progressive conservation era's in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. The term of sustainability first came from European forestry and created some of the first building blocks that led to our understanding of sustainability as we see it today. Sustainability evolved through preservationism and progressive conservation into ecological thinking and environmentalism, and finally to a refined idea of sustainability.
Figures such as John Muir, the famed preservationist who started the Sierra Club, Conservationists such as President Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot, as well as, Aldo Leopold (see photo below), famed forester and ecologist who developed the Land Ethic, are all part of the sum that is sustainability. Sustainability is a process, a fluid concept that looks to the past as much as the future in order to develop best practices and then apply what works and what doesn't to the model, the lifestyle, and the overall concept of sustainability.
This content focuses on the pre environmentalist time period. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Gifford Pinchot, Theodore Roosevelt, and many more influential figures that impacted modern sustainability are found here.
(CC Image of Aldo Leopold courtesy of USFS Region 5 on Flickr)