:02S. RESERVE DISTRICT            August 9, 1948
Mr. Warren Kelchner
Chief, Division of International Conferences
Department of State
Washington 25, D. C.
Dear Mr. Kelchner:
I simply cannot go before the Inter-American Conference in Denver and prate to
the distinguished delegates about educational programs and methods to promote
land-use planning, believing as I now believe. I have been reading and thinking
all summer. I find that I know far too little about the geography, the social
structure, the economic structure, the racial make-up and the educational oppor-
tunities of the res-oective Latin-American countries that will be represented.
It would be more than an impertinence for me to address them. To be truthful,
I believe it would be an impertinence for any United States citizen to address
them, unless it would be Mr. William Vogt.
As I read of Hexico, with its rapidly increasing population, more than half of
which are hungry; of Peru, with most of its 6 million people at a bare subsist-
ence level; of Chile, with the bulk of its population barely eking out an exist-
ence -- I am forced to the conclusion that the basic problem is one of applying
reproductive brakes -- deliberately and drastically limiting populations. And
yet we of the United States go blithely about attempting to raise the health
standards, the living standards and the old-age expectancy in other countries --
oblivious to the fact that an acre of arable land can adequately support only so
many people. We ignore genetic erosion, just as we ignore land erosion.
Do I dare say that to devout Catholics? Yet we must face the fact that a man's
ideals of his own life take first place; that his spiritual and economic horizon
must vision some hope before he will even begin to think about nattral resources
and their conservation. Mules don't think about conservation.
I am convinced that, in most Latin-American countries, the Catholic Church could
be the most effective medium of education. Witness the work and teachings of
Father Henry Retzek in Hinnesota. But can you go to the church with a resource-
use educational program in one hand and contraceptives in the other? Soil conser-
vation districts or their equivalent, 4-H clubs or their equivalent, army
indoctrination programs, and education of urban populations are all very well but
they will not reach to the roots of the problem. The cities dictate the policies
of a country, and the city dweller takes natural resources for granted; just as
he takes for granted the cholo who rapes them. Neither he nor the cholo give a
damn about future generations.
I know my name will be mud to you gentlemen from here on out. You will be dis-
gusted. Why didn't I tell you this long ago? I wrote and tore up two papers --
and kept on reading and thinking with the vain hope that I would come up with
something I could honestly say. If Aldo Leopold had lived, perhaps he could have
helped me. And yet we have Aldo's statement (The Ecological Conscience) that
"!o important change in human conduct is ever accomplished without internal
change in our intellectual emphases, our loyalties, our affections and our
convictions." Who am I, living in a glass house, to cast the first stone?
Write me off as a poor jerk impaled on the horns of a dilemma.
Roberts Mann
RI:AE                                      Superintendent of Conservation