By Robert L. Dorman
The careers and concepts of 4 figures of huge significance within the historical past of yankee conservation—George Perkins Marsh, Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and John Wesley Powell—are explored in A be aware for Nature. Robert Dorman bargains energetic pictures of every of those early environmental advocates, who witnessed firsthand the influence of monetary enlargement and commercial revolution on fragile landscapes from the forests of latest England to the mountains of the West. through reading the nineteenth-century international during which the 4 males lived—its society, economic system, politics, and culture—Dorman sheds mild at the roots of yank environmentalism. He offers an summary of the early a long time of either source conservation and wasteland maintenance, discussing how Marsh, Thoreau, Muir, and Powell helped outline the problems that begun altering the nation's attitudes towards its surroundings by means of the early 20th century. Dorman's readings of works together with Marsh's guy and Nature, Thoreau's The Maine Woods, Muir's The Mountains of California, and Powell's record at the Lands of the Arid zone demonstrate their authors' impression on environmental proposal and politics even as much as the current day.
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Extra info for A word for nature: four pioneering environmental advocates, 1845-1913
In an "Address to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County" (1847), he cast social development in terms of the transition Page 24 from savagery to civilization, a common enough conceit of the Victorian era, but one that he unwittingly began to challenge in the same essay. "America offers the first example of the struggle between civilized man and barbarous uncultivated nature," Marsh posited. Everywhere else on earth, the savage was the first to subdue nature by his primitive slow processes. " Civilization, on the other hand, "is at once the mother and the fruit of peace.
Whiggery thus combined a relatively modern set of beliefs regarding industrial capitalism and governmental activism with a more conservative and traditionalist emphasis on social conformity and hierarchy, an ideological mix not without contradiction, to be sure. The greater and greater degrees of mobility and individualism made possible by the new expansive economy inevitably caused the traditional politics Page 14 and society of deference to be less and less viable, virtually obsolete, by midcentury.
19 George Perkins Marsh was to confront many of the same ideological boundaries as he rose to the task of instructing his countrymen about the environmental consequences of divorcing material progress from moral progress. Paternal, republican "Duty," defined by rational restraint and commitment to the community good, must counterbalance self-interested and self-aggrandizing "Desire"or so the Whigs asserted in their stern rhetoric. From this perspective they condemned the wasteful conquests over nature perpetrated by their frontier brethren while righteously absolving their own enterprises of excesses that were at least as profligate and destructive.
A word for nature: four pioneering environmental advocates, 1845-1913 by Robert L. Dorman