Columella the " wise agriculturist" of Hughes book was described for a short time in the passage about the negative views of agriculture, but his views were not many different from the modern day practitioners of sustainability majors around the world.His major focus was to make poor farming practices the crux of the issue instead of climate or divine intervention.His views were shared by what Hughes calls " Pragmatic Romans", which does not have a negative connotation. Columella was not a negative conservationist, but a man seeking the best solutions for his time period.
A question to ask yourself is were these men viewed as ivory towered solution makers or simply the logical thinkers of their time. Propaganda for using resources would most likely be supported by those who wanted to increase the size of the navy and military rather , the chief use for lumber and resources at the time. Was conservation seen as a threat to national security? For Hughes to classify these men as negative may not have been fair to the loyal opposition, and he took an extremely absolutist approach to the issue.The spectrum of positions may actually attach the religiously pious "Mother Earth" supporters to a pacifist trend.The possibilities are many but the primary sources are so few.
Since Hughes work may have been based on this more absolutist ground due to the resources available, there is hope in understanding when we take into account other cultural aspects of Greece and Rome, and this book thoroughly equips us with the information necessary to track the middle ground of public opinion and controversy.
Best Regards, Rudolf Ross