Environmental movement began in the United States in the 19th century with the purpose of influencing the countrys 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 the contemporary environmentalism through his philosophical writings, Theodore Roosevelt undertook to protect the countrys environment. John Muir is remembered for being an advocate for environmental conservation who started the Sierra Club.
Thoreaus works are important sources of literature in the contemporary environmentalism. The authors writings were critical of the relationship between man and the planet. According to 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 mans inability to fly has saved the sky from unsustainable exploitation. In this regard, environmental responsiveness was the hallmark of Thoreaus 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.
Theodore Roosevelt was not only Americas 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 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. Roosevelts 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 towards conversation.
Joh Muir was a naturalist and writer who established the Sierra Club. At the age of eleven, Muir migrated to the United States from Scotland. According to Sierra Club, Muir championed for 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. Muirs love for the natural world was evident in his writings. He expressed his affection for the ecology. In 1890, he established Yosemite National Park and supported the creation of Grand Canyon parks. Two years later, he created the Sierra Club that had a strong association with the progressive movement. The club seeks to promote green policies by lobbying important stakeholders towards green environmentalism.
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. Thoreaus works are still relevant in todays 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, Muirs green policy advocacy is still relevant given the existence of his important initiatives.
Center for American Progress. Its easy being green: happy birthday, Henry David Thoreau. 2011, July 13. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/green/news/2011/07/13/10013/its-easy-being-green-happy-birthday-henry-david-thoreau/
King, Laurel. Theodore Roosevelt and the environment. 2013, November 6. http://abouttheodoreroosevelt.com/theodore-roosevelt-and-the-environment/278/
Sierra Club. Who was John Muir? 2017. <http://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/intro.aspx>
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