Expository Essay on Early Personalities in the Environmental Movement

2021-06-06 19:13:21
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689 words
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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Essay
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Introduction

The environmental movement began in the United States in the 19th century with the purpose of influencing the country’s environmental policy. According to the Center for American Progress, environmental issues revolved around the management of fisheries and wildlife, conservation of soil and water, and enhancing sustainable forestry (1). This movement expanded towards the progressive era which was characterized by urban reform programs such as the provision of clean water and efficient waste management. Henry David Thoreau, Theodore Roosevelt, and John Muir made significant contributions to the environmental movement. While Thoreau is known for laying a foundation for contemporary environmentalism through his philosophical writings, Theodore Roosevelt undertook to protect the country’s environment. John Muir is remembered for being an advocate for environmental conservation who started the Sierra Club.

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Who Is Henry David Thoreau?

Thoreau’s works are important sources of literature in contemporary environmentalism. The author's writings were critical of the relationship between man and the planet. According to the Center for American Progress, Thoreau condemned irresponsible and unrestrained utilization of natural resources (1). Thoreau remarked that men if men could fly, they would waste the sky in the same way they have messed the earth. Obviously, he took delight in the fact that man’s inability to fly has saved the sky from unsustainable exploitation. In this regard, environmental responsiveness was the hallmark of Thoreau’s work. He believed in the treatment of the environment with respect. Thus, Thoreau made a significant contribution through his philosophy of social responsibility and sustainable development when the environment was in danger of adverse exploitation due to the emergence of industries.

Henry David Thoreau Quotes on Environmental Damage

  • Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.

  • Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends... Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.

  • We can never have enough of Nature.

  • It is the marriage of the soul with nature that makes the intellect fruitful and gives birth to imagination

  • If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.

What Is Theodore Roosevelt Known For?

Theodore Roosevelt was not only America’s president but also a top environmentalist. According to King, Roosevelt made good use of his authority to protect what he believed was the most valuable asset: the environment. As a young man, Roosevelt was concerned about the resulting pollution and waste that occurred in the coal, steel, and oil industries. He perceived this form of pollution as an affront to the environment and expressed his desire to change the attitude of Americans towards the environment. In 1887, Roosevelt and his friend, George Grinnell created the Boone and Crocket Club. The club sought to raise awareness about the need for environmental conservation and preservation as well the danger of pollution. Roosevelt’s environmental work extended while he served as president. According to King, Roosevelt signed a law that protected over fifty wildlife refuges and eighteen national monuments (1). He also expanded forest reserves by millions of acres and created the United States Forestry Service. Such initiatives were important in protecting the environment and improving public awareness of the conversation.

Theodore Roosevelt Quotes About Environment

  • The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased; and not impaired in value.

  • Wild beasts and birds are by right not the property merely of the people today, but the property of the unborn generations, whose belongings we have no right to squander.

  • There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.

  • I do not intend that our natural resources shall be exploited by the few against the interests of the many.

  • Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches, or its romance.

What Did John Muir Fight For?

John Muir was a naturalist and writer who established the Sierra Club. At the age of eleven, Muir emigrated to the United States from Scotland. According to Sierra Club, Muir championed the adoption of a policy that sought to conserve the environment and protect it from exploitation in 1876. As a writer, John Muir made several publications on the need for forest conservation. Muir’s love for the natural world was evident in his writings. He expressed his affection for ecology. In 1890, he established Yosemite National Park and supported the creation of Grand Canyon parks. Two years later, he created the Sierra Club which had a strong association with the progressive movement. The club seeks to promote green policies by lobbying important stakeholders towards green environmentalism.

John Muir Quotes About Nature

  • Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods.

  • When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.

  • God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.

  • The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature poetry, and all that is spiritual.

  • The battle we have fought, and are still fighting, for the forests is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong.

Conclusion

It is evident that Thoreau, Roosevelt, and Muir made an important contribution to the environmental movement. These personalities played a significant role in creating awareness of the need to conserve the environment. Thoreau’s works are still relevant in today’s environmentalism because they serve as a stark reminder that we should protect the environment. By using his presidential power to conserve the environment, Theodore Roosevelt underscored his commitment to environmentalism. Like Thoreau, Muir’s green policy advocacy is still relevant given the existence of his important initiatives.

Works Cited

Center for American Progress. It’s easy being green: happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau. 2011, July 13.

King, Laurel. Theodore Roosevelt and the environment. 2013, November 6. Sierra Club. Who was John Muir? 2017.

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