Audible has just released an audio version of John F. Kennedy in His Own Words edited by Knight Center director Eric Freedman and Edward Hoffman, an adjunct associate professor at Yeshiva University. Actor Stephen Molloy of Pennsylvania is the narrator.
One section deals with Kennedy’s views on environmental issues. As the introduction to that section notes, JFK had a recreational interest in the outdoors, favored protection of public lands from overuse and warned about urban and suburban sprawl. The ocean exerted a near-mystical hold on him, perhaps because of his family home on Cape Cod, his love of boating and his South Pacific naval exploits during World War II.
Like many members of his generation, Kennedy was allured by the power of science and the promise of exploration, believing those twin engines of the human mind and spirit could solve societal problems without environmental damage. Overall, however, his legislative initiatives reflected a policy that environmental interests shouldn’t trump agricultural needs and economic development, and that natural resources such as energy and water should be exploitable.
We see those sometimes complementing, sometimes conflicting, views in a speech he made in Hanford, Washington, in September 1963:
There are two points on conservation that have come home to me in the last two days. One is the necessity for us to protect what we already have, what nature gave to us, and use it well, not to waste water or land, to set aside land and water, recreation, wilderness and all the rest now so that it will be available to those who come in the future. That is the traditional concept of conservation, and it still has a major part in the life of the United States.
But the other part of conservation is the newer part, and that is to use science and technology to achieve significant breakthroughs as we are doing today, and in that way to conserve the resources which ten or twenty or thirty years ago may have been totally unknown. So we use nuclear power for peaceful purposes and power. We use new techniques to develop new kinds of coal and oil from shale, and all the rest. We use new techniques … in oceanography, so from the bottom of the ocean and the ocean we get all the resources which are there, and which are going to be mined and harvested. And from the sun we are going to find more and more uses for that energy whose power we are so conscious of today.
Other sections of John F. Kennedy in His Own Words present his thoughts on the economy, the arts, international affairs, politics, immigration, human rights, labor and other issues.
The audiobook is available for $19.95 from Audible. The book, originally published in 2005 by Kensington Publishing, is also available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.