The American Earth is a fantastic collection of letters, poems, song lyrics, essays and excerpts written by American environmentalists portraying their conservation and preservation ideas related to the environment. The book is an inspiration to environmentalists with many of their predictions have already come true. Reading this collection of environmental writings, the reader gets the feeling of belonging and feels that he is not alone in this worthy cause.
This collection of environmentalist writing was edited by Bill McKibben with a clear bias on the writings that analyze the interrelationship between humans and the environment. Therefore, Bill’s statement that American Earth “takes as its subject the collision between people and the rest of the world “(McKibben 6) is true. Let us have a look at the evidence of claim made by Bill in his statement (McKibben 1-10).
The objective of addressing the impact humans have on the environment is clear in the American Earth. All the authors of the works included in it had something to mention about the effect of the actions of human beings towards the environment. Let us consider some of the writers featured in American Earth and see their ideas relating to the relationship between humans and the environment.
Let us start with the writing by Rachael Carson supporting her campaign against the use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and related products in the fight against mosquitoes. With her poetic writing, Rachael Carson had tremendous influence on the decision by several nations to abolish the use of DDT for environmental conservation reasons. This was and still is highly criticized by critics of environmental conservation. This effort in advocating for environmental conservation through her literary skills was dealing with the effect of the decisions made by human beings, on the environment. Her fight against the use of DDT continued even after her death with her literary works and was awarded attention in the advisory committee of President John F. Kennedy’s on science (Lee 1).
Secondly, consider the works done by George Perkins Marsh. George’s are known as the first literary works analyzing environmental problems. He was a blatant advocate for the preservation of the environment through monitoring of human action. Even from the titles of his works, like Man and Nature, it is evident that he was a crusader of conservation of the environment through the monitoring of non conservatory human actions.
He was of the argument that if nature was conserved, it would make its territory outlined, proportionate and give it a form too. He explained this by the fact that in places where nature is not disturbed by man, it either keeps its beauty or it is affected by geology. Since geological activities are normally limited, he succeeded in communicating his opinion that most of the destruction done to nature is caused by man and thus this proves Bill’s statement to be right (Lee 1).
AL Gore’s activism in global warming is also featured in the American Earth. Al Gore has written several books on global warming whose ideas were incorporated into the American Earth. From the definition of global warming, it is apparent that in writing these articles, Al Gore was concerned with the contribution of the actions of humans to global warming. His main concern was the burning of fossil fuels like paraffin, oil, gas and petrol. The increase in the burning of these fuels with time has led to the global warming we experience today. Thus human activities once more are highlighted in this writers work (Jones 1).
All the authors in the American Earth are great conservationists and writers. However, John Muir is, to me, the most effective of all. John was the epitome of writing efficacy and passion in environmental conservation. He invented a new language by describing vividly using a completely new language his experience in Yosemite Valley. Up to date John is one of the most renowned historical personalities in California. He has been given several conservation titles due to his efforts in environmental conservation. As an explorer of the wilderness, he is most remembered for his tour of California’s Sierra Nevada.
His great works gave people insight to the protection of natural heritage. Bill used some of his works in the American Earth due to their motivational nature and ability to educate the public the negative effects of their actions to the environment. He was so influential that his words and commitment to conservation influenced President Theodore Roosevelt to establish and keep a close eye on innovative conservation programs.
These included establishment of the first National Monuments. Yosemite National Park was also established by congressional action due to his influence. Although John Muir’s attempt to preserve the second valley failed, the failure inspired citizens who believe in conservation to help in the fight to preserve the inviolate nature of our national parks. Proposals to build dams in national parks have been rejected by active citizens due to the inspiration they got from John Muir (Jones 1).
The last passenger pigeon died in Washington, DC; Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1914. This species of birds thus became extinct in the early twentieth century. Because billions of birds of this species once lived, it is very unfortunate that we lost this species to our failure to conserve our environment. Such effects of non-conservation are the ones that created the zeal in environmentalists to create awareness about the need to conserve our environment.
Most of the works in the American Earth had already been written by the twentieth century but the evidence of the effects of environmental degradation was evident even before the twentieth century. Thus the timing of these works and their subsequent editing into American Earth was very perfect. It can be argued that if the contribution that was made by these great environmentalists were missed at this time, several other species of birds, animals and plants would also become extinct (McKibben 192).
The objective of Bill McKibben in collecting these environmental literary works was to inform the society about the effect it has on the environment. In this regard therefore, people learnt how to live caring for the environment and several legislations were enacted from the ideas of these great scholars. The writings also motivated environmentalists to continue the work started by these scholars and therefore the society has been regulating unfavorable decisions made by the government towards the environment. Conclusively, environmental conservation is for the good of each one of us and therefore, every one should be freely involved in conservation. We should not be forced to conserve the environment since its conservation is for our good and the welfare of future generations (Kirby 1).
Jones, Audrey. “The Science Behind Global Warming Not So irrefutable”. 2010. Web.
Kirby, Dough. “Martha, passenger pigeon”, 1996. Web.
Lee, Jeffrey. “Marsh, George Perkins”, 2009. Web.
McKibben, Bill. American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau. New York. Library of America, 2008.