By Philip Pryde, Ph.D., a member of REP’s California Chapter and the national Board of Directors

A HISTORICAL DOCUMENT: This article by Dr. Pryde was shared with and published by a variety of environmental organizations around the country in 1998, when he was a director of Republicans for Environmental Protection.

This 2020 updated version is still available for reprint by other groups, so long as Dr. Pryde is credited as the author, Republicans for Environmental Protection is credited as the original source, and the update contact information provided at the end is maintained in the reprint.


Can Elephants Really Hug Trees?

Almost a century ago, America had a president so highly thought of that his likeness would eventually be carved into Mt. Rushmore. His name was Teddy Roosevelt, and he was a strong environmentalist. He was also a Republican.

Teddy Roosevelt believed that no country could long endure if it squandered its natural wealth. He emphasized the conservation of America’s resources, and he had little patience with people who would waste them for private profit.

Today, somehow, the Teddy Roosevelt tradition seems to be lost within the GOP. Neither political party has a 100% record on environmental issues, but voting analyses indicate that Democrats currently do much better than Republicans. This has been especially true since 1994.

But in fact, the environmental tradition has not been totally lost even within Republican ranks. Polls consistently indicate that among Republican voters there is widespread sentiment for good stewardship of America’s natural heritage. Somehow, though, most of today’s Congressional Republicans do not reflect this popular opinion.

Recently, however, a small group of citizens, all Republicans and strong believers in environmental conservation, decided that this situation was not acceptable and established a group called REPUBLICANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (or, more simply, REP).

These activists remain as committed to environmental protection as anyone you could find. They’re determined that the philosophy of Teddy Roosevelt should once again permeate, and if possible dominate, the Republican Party. To slightly paraphrase the famous line from the movie “Network,” they’re mad as heck, and they’re not going to take it any more. You may never have seen a pink elephant, they would say, but you’re going to see some green ones!

Noting that the words “conservation” and “conservative” come from the same root, REPUBLICANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION works with rank-and-file GOP voters to convince elected officials that strong pro-environment actions are entirely compatible with a conservative political tradition. Conservatives ought to be inherently enthusiastic advocates of conserving America’s climate, air, water, public land, and wildlife.

To learn more about REPUBLICANS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, check out the group’s website:

ORIGINAL 2003 CREDIT: Philip R. Pryde earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in 1969 and immediately began teaching at San Diego State University, where he now holds the title of Professor Emeritus of Geography. Along the way, he racked up an extensive list of scholarly and popular publications, including several books: Conservation in the Soviet Union (1972); San Diego: An Introduction to the Region (four editions from 1976 to 2003); Nonconventional Energy Resources (1983); Oh, California! (1990); Environmental Management in the Soviet Union (1991) and Environmental Resources and Constraints in the Former Soviet Republics (1995).

Phil has also been an active citizen, serving as chair of the San Diego County Planning Commission, San Diego County’s Water Independence Task Force, San Diego Floodplain Technical Committee and San Diego Audubon Society. He currently serves on the Boards of Directors of both REP and REP’s charitable “sister” organization, plus the San Diego Audubon Society and several other environmental organizations.

In addition to this article, Phil also wrote two more for REP:
Environmentalism and Patriotism       Top Ten Reasons Why Conservatives Should Be Environmentalists

Phil also wrote REP’s policy papers on Oceans and Wetlands.