Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the US Forest Service, was a big advocate of conservation of national reserves. In this article, he specifically talk about conserving our forests, water, and coal.
Waste, waste, waste — that is what the famous forester accused us of, and of a waste far more destructive to ourselves, our children, and our children’s children than any which such men as James J. Hill, who merely saw we spend our money recklessly, have ever charged us with…
“Of all the continents,” said he, “this is the richest, and among civilized peoples, there is no record of any so wasteful as ours, who live upon it. When our forefathers over-ran and subdued this country the natural resources which it offered them were so much more in quantity than the early scattered population could possibly use, that waste became a national habit. Never, probably, in the world’s history, and surely never in its comparatively recent history, has this waste been paralleled. We have begun to wake, a little, to the fact of it, but the beginning of our awakening was very recent. It has only just begun to occur to us as a people that waste is a sin, and that in time we shall be compelled to make answer for it as such.”
“WE ARE THE RICHEST BUT MOST WASTEFUL PEOPLE” Gifford Pinchot Says Our Great National Resources Are Being Ruthlessly Destroyed or Stolen — How to Correct Errors. (PDF)
From February 26, 1911