The evolution of the environmental movement between 1850 and 1915 sought to protect and preserve Americas natural resources, wildlife, and wildlands. During this period, some influential individuals, such as George Perkins Marsh, John Muir, and Gifford Pinchot actively contributed to the development of the environmental movement in the country. George Perkins Marsh is remembered for his contribution to environmental conservation through his book, Man and Nature, in which he warned about the destructive activities of humanity to the environment. John Muir is remembered for advocating for the federal protection of the wilderness and national parks. Gifford Pinchot is considered a practical environmentalist who proposed that natural resources must be used for the benefit of the society.
In his remarkable book, Man and Nature, Marsh was the first person who raised concerns about the far-reaching destructive impacts of the human activities on the natural environment. Marshs work includes observations that he made during his youthful years in Vermont, and on his visits to the Middle East (Marsh and Lowenthal 52). He became the first person to propose that humankind was agents of change, or simply disturbing agents. During those days, nobody had ever attempted to study the earth as home to humanity. As such, Marsh was the first person to give a description of the interdependence between the environmental and social relationships.
Muir is known for pushing for the protection of the wilderness by the federal government. Muir's belief that the wilderness must receive federal protection as national parks for wildlife has given many generations of American citizens and tourists the opportunity to see and appreciate the countrys natural landscapes, without the industrial influence of humankind (Nash 362). Muir firmly believed that there was a need for forests and national parks to be conserved in their entirety, which means that they should be protected from any industrial interests. His conservation agenda contributed to the establishment of Yosemite and Sequoia national parks in 1890, which represented a victory for the environmental protection. Also, Muirs works have continued to serve as a source of inspiration for conservationists and naturalists in America and worldwide.
Pinchot was an environmentalist advocate who sought to encourage humanity to use natural resources for the benefit of society, sustainably to ensure the resources are available infinitely. This was virtually heresy during those years when people ignored the finite nature of the resources. In his famous book, The Fight for Conservation, Pinchot considered the natural resources conservation as the only permanent basis of the country's success (Nash 370). Pinchot was a forester who was environmentally sensitive, and he advocated for the environmental conservation agenda very aggressively while getting things done, at times even trying to push for change which proved radical. For example, he argued that forests, including private forests, be regulated.
In conclusion, George Perkins Marsh, John Muir, and Gifford Pinchot were key players in the environmental movement between 1850 and 1915. Marsh recognized the impact of human activities on the natural environment, and this has since influenced many ecologists across the world. Muir pushed for federal protection of forests and wilderness areas, which helped to establish Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. Pinchot, on his part, encouraged the sustainable use of natural resources for the welfare of the society.
Marsh, George Perkins, and David Lowenthal. Man and Nature. University of Washington Press, 1965.
Nash, Roderick. "American environmental history: a new teaching frontier." Pacific Historical Review 41.3 (1972): 362-372.
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