What Would Ding Say?
In 1936, at the North American Wildlife Conference, legendary conservationist and political cartoonist "Ding" Darling addressed a group of conservationists to discuss how to best address the most pressing issues facing wildlife in their day. In his speech, "Ding" said that the only way to achieve success was that "Out of this meeting must come a definition of our common aims, free from the controversial differences inherent in group interests." Ding firmly believed in the power of our democracy and that if the people will come together and lead, the leaders will follow. He put his hope in the passion of the people in that room, believing it would be strong enough for them to put aside their differences and focus on the common interests that had brought them together. Ding believed in this so strongly that the National Wildlife Federation was created to help give voice to this common vision.
Today, wildlife are facing even more challenges than in Ding’s day. Global warming, habitat loss, pollution, and invasive species are pushing more plants, fish, and wildlife toward the brink of extinction. And on Monday, the Supreme Court weakened a key provision of the Endangered Species Act by ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency need not consider needs of endangered wildlife in certain water pollution permitting decisions.
What would Ding say if he could speak to us today? I suspect he would say much the same thing that he said 71 years ago – that it is time for the millions of Americans passionate about protecting wildlife for our children’s future to speak out together on the most important issue of our time – global warming. Isn’t it time for us to put aside our "inherent differences" for this common aim?