This chapter examines the meaning of ‘environmental consciousness’ in the context of nature conservation and environmental history. At its fullest, environmental consciousness might be described as a respect for species not our own and a love for the beauty of all natural things. It encompasses a sense that living things comprise a web governed by nature's ecological and physical laws, and an awareness that what we do to modify the operations of any of these laws may impact on other species, perhaps all other species, including ourselves. It is argued that unless we have a love and respect for the natural world that is widely diffused both among our leaders and the rest of us, conserving nature will not occur except as an accidental consequence of humanity's other preoccupations.
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