Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Churchill Series - Dec. 2, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Readers Note: Today I found the following post prepared for publication in Dec. 2005.

It appears it wasn't published. I can't explain why not.

Whatever the case, I'm happy to publish it today.


A November, 2005 press release from a UK National Achieves says:

A document unearthed today as part of Archive Awareness Campaign, and as part of National Tree Week, reveals that Winston Churchill was not only a fearsome wartime leader but also a keen environmentalist.

A concerned member of the public wrote to Churchill in 1954 to warn him of the decimation of forests throughout Surrey as well as the lopping of trees in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Churchill was sufficiently concerned to request a "special note" on this subject.

He wrote to the Minister of Works:
"What is this you have been doing in the parks? Let me have a special note. It is a dreadful thing to cut down a tree which has life in it."
The Minister of Works replied straight away, defending the lopping and chopping as necessary. When trees were in old age, diseased or were dangerous they would be destroyed but replanting was going on at the same time. The document, held at The National Archives in Kew, West London, records the whole correspondence and shows that Churchill was satisfied that responsible tree-felling was taking place
No doubt Churchill was satisfied with “responsible tree-felling." He did a lot of that at his home, Chartwell, where he ordered trees cut to improve views and allow for building.

Churchill was a "keen environmentalist" as the term was used in his day. He built gardens and fish ponds. He loved to be out in the countryside steeple-chasing, polo-playing, fox-hunting, and grouse and stag shooting.

But would Churchill qualify as a "keen environmentalist" today? What would he make of a Barbara Streisand owning a 10 thousand gallon, heated pool while urging other woman to hang clothes on a line to save energy? Or Robert Kennedy Jr. criticizing as energy hogs people who drive SUVs while Kennedy owns four large houses and frequently travels by private jet.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, those three keen environmentalists: Barbra Streisand, Winston Churchill, and Robert Kennedy Jr.

No, it doesn't work, does it.