The Role Of Nature In American Urbanization

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“The history of life on earth has been a history of interaction between living things and their surroundings” (Carson). While every living creature, whether it be a plant, animal or human being, affects the atmosphere around it in some way, only humans possess the knowledge and abilities to severely alter the environment in a way singular to their species. The human concept of nature constantly evolves depending on the state of technological progress and moral mindset people find themselves surrounded by. Historical changes, such as industrialization of cities in the United States, play a crucial a role in impacting human’s actions and viewpoint on the surrounding world. Therefore, throughout recent American urbanization efforts, humans have …show more content…
The idea that nature must be conserved found its basis during the rise of industrialization. Americans found themselves becoming over run by the artificial, mechanical world surrounding them, and sought a reprieve from the constant filthy, unsanitary city lifestyle they inhabited. The unhappiness brought upon by urban lifestyles eagerly welcomed the transcendentalist movement, which in the words of William Cronon viewed nature as, “an island in the polluted sea of urban-industrial modernity, the one place we can turn for escape from our own too muchness.” The transcendentalist writers such as Thoreau and Wadsworth believed that to immerse oneself in the wilderness was to encounter the ethereal and divine. This idea of glorifying nature can be seen through Thoreau arguing that “in wilderness is the preservation of the world.” Additionally, the Transcendentalist mindset led way to the thought that due to the encroachment of industry and the urban polis, the idea of the American frontier and independent spirit were slowly drifting away never to return. In William Cronon’s “The Trouble with Wilderness, he addresses this claim by saying, “Thus in the myth of the vanishing frontier lay the seeds of wilderness preservation in the United States, for if wild land had been so crucial to the making of the nation, then …show more content…
This mindset would prove to be detrimental to the environment. By only focusing on the majestic icons of nature, humans inadvertently were overlooking the elements of natural beauty located within everyday life that prove necessary to their lifestyle. When humans focus only on the elaborate aspects of nature, they contradict their own stance on the importance of the environment to living a fulfilled life. They say that wilderness is essential to embracing our humanity, yet they allow thousands of acres of land to be deforested, saturated with harsh chemicals, and polluted because it does not fit the description of a grand icon which spiritually impacts the soul. In his essay “Trouble with Wilderness”, William Cronon states, “indeed, my principle objection to wilderness is that it may teach us to be dismissive or even contemptuous of such humble places and experiences.” Just because organisms, such as, trees or fields of grain occur more frequently than mountains or canyons in the urbanized lives of humans does not lessen their importance. By dismissing the more simplistic elements due to their place in human industry, humans allow themselves to destroy the very wilderness they work so hard to preserve. This mindset obsessed with glorification blinds humans from realizing that the

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