The origins of the conservation movement are not easy to trace. Malthus, the founder of demography, has some claims to be regarded as the first conscious and celebrated conservationist, though he would not have understood the term itself, coined long after his death. The word ‘conservation’ in its popular modern sense — the careful husbandry of natural resources and of the meritorious works of man — first came into use in the United States in the early years of this century. It remained little known in Britain until the 1950s. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher and Nobel Laureate for literature, took pains to give the term a broad environmental meaning as if he feared that that usage was unfamiliar to his audience:

I mean by ‘conservation’ not only the preservation of ancient monuments and beauty spots, the upkeep of roads and public utilities, and so on. These things are done at present, except in time of war. What I have chiefly in mind is the preservation of the world's natural resources.… 1