1499913777

I first took environmental science in high…

I first took environmental science in high…

I first took environmental science in high school, and learned about the stunning complexity of our natural world and its oxymoronic power and frailty. At the same time in another building, we read the iconic “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau in English class. Thoreau, one of the first prominent environmentalists, would be 200 years old today, and his words from yesteryear ring even truer today than before. In “Walking,” written for the Atlantic in 1862, Thoreau famously proclaimed: “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” An incredible truism both in 1862 and perhaps more so today, yet, day by day, we see our limited wildness depleted, the “civilization other than our own” (Journal, 1859) ravaged by industry, pillaged by greed, and encroached upon ever further by our insatiable desire for more and more and more. Even Thoreau’s treasured Walden Pond has not been immune to human action; in 2011, it was found to harbor dangerous levels of mercury from industrial pollution – most likely from coal fired power plants. While I recognize the need for human development across the globe – and the very real challenges posed when coupling that need with the equally-important needs of ecosystems, animals, and environments – it’s high time that our officials remember Thoreau’s words, again from Walking: “There is a difference between eating and drinking for strength and from mere gluttony.” In this country, we are daily reminded of the need to “Make America Great Again.” I’ve long wondered when that supposed great time was, and for whom. Perhaps it was in our early days, before we attacked the wildness with the tools of “civilization,” in the time when, as Thoreau reminds us, the Governor-General of Canada, Sir Franeis Head, noted: “The heavens of America appear infinitely higher, the sky is bluer, the air is fresher, the cold is intenser, the moon looks larger, the stars are brighter the thunder is louder, the lightning is vivider, the wind is stronger, the rain is heavier, the mountains are higher, the rivers longer, the forests bigger, the plains broader.” [continued in comments]

Lake Atitlán

View this photo in Jake Norton & MountainWorld’s Instagram ⇒

About the Author : Jake NortonClimber, guide, photographer, speaker, founder of www.Challenge21.com, and - most importantly - husband and father.View all posts by Jake Norton

Leave a Reply