Writing for a Wounded Planet
August 28, 2018
Cronon writes that to properly honor wilderness we must accept it as part of civilization. This view is unique and valuable. By integrating the daunting prospect of “wilderness” into our society not as a place that is separate from our lives, but an integral part of our community, we can begin to more easily understand methods of its protection. By viewing wilderness as something people go to for vacations and leisure, we dissociate with it. By distancing ourselves from wilderness in this way we decrease the overall awareness of its condition. If the wilderness is way out there, then throwing that plastic bottle on the street or tossing aside that gum wrapper really doesn’t have any significance. But if we bring it closer, into our homes and workplaces, then it becomes a part of us. A part of us that everyone can see, and that most will care for. It is very easy to let something decay if you cannot see it, it’s another matter entirely when it’s in your backyard.
Cronon also speaks on the irony of the elite wishing to preserve the wilderness, and thus destroying it. There is truth in this, but by civilizing the wilderness they may have also saved it. By presenting the wilderness as a desirable location, a sort of resort, they brought it to the forefront of society. Nobody wants to protect a “waste,” but anyone would love to have another luxury hotel they can stay in. The elites of the past brought wilderness conservation into the present, and for that they are valuable. Their methods may have been questionable, but in the long run the effect on the environment will be positive.