In this paper we are analyzing two articles, “The Trouble with Wilderness,” by William Cronon and, “On the Search for a Root Cause: Essentialist Tendencies in Environmental Discourse” by Jeffery C. Ellis. We will compare and contrast these articles, analyze which one is better and provide solid reasons for the argument.
In the first article, William Cronon points to the potential danger that is associated with wilderness. According to him, humans have evolved and started living in the civilized world. We have left the uncivilized life of jungle and started living in villages and towns. The authors’ idea in this writing is that if have left the uncivilized life of the forest, we should completely separate ourselves from nature if we want to be completely civilized. We cannot live in civilized society and at the same time think that we belong to that uncivilized that we were living in before. The author arguments that we cannot cut ourselves off from nature if we do we will be only admirers of nature and will not care for its protection. His idea about wilderness is that we need to find a midway solution between civilized life and wilderness. We cannot opt just one and live happily as the basic relation to nature will keep pulling.
The author Jeffery Ellis, on the other hand, describes a different concept. He believes that cultural understanding of nature can give rise to many landscape issues. He argues that oversimplification of environmental issues is wrong as the earth has a variable ecological history. He argues that if we want to protect the nature, we have to first analyze the nature in ourselves. The people who make policies about environmental destruction or its preservation need to choose between costs and benefits of nature destruction, on the bases of whether it will be beneficial to America or harmful, and will it empower or slow down economic development. He argues that love with nature in our minds keep us emotionally attached to nature, but it does not help in preserving it. There is always a need for balance between how much we choose to construct of destructing nature. His used the concept of palimpsest to answer the crisis, which describes that we are seeing nature and deciding about it without having enough knowledge as actual purpose has vanished. Using palimpsest to describe environmental crisis a mess of social, political and scientific complexity will arise.
In my opinion, the arguments of Ellis as compared to Cronon are much logical. If nature has reached us in varying way and we did not fully understand the spiritual relationship of nature how can we judge it should or shouldn’t be varied? Ellis’s logic that we first need to find the relation of nature against Cronon’s idea to accept both options (living in nature and without it) partially is more logical as without finding a reason to something, directly jumping inside is unnecessary. Also the understanding that by destroying nature if we are looking at a greater good we should carefully analyze whether the pros are more than the cons? And by answering this question we can understand that not always preserving nature can be an option, we also have right to live in civilized society. Both Cronon and Ellis are in support of preserving environment, but Cronon’s concept is strict without consideration of positive effects, Ellis on the other hand describes how it can effect socially, politically and economically the American people and also provides reasons that there can be time when government officials are left with but no choice to adopt one option which sometimes is beneficial and sometimes not, but we first need to answer where we stand in preserving environment? Are our actions indirectly against it? And whether or not we want to live in a purely natural environment.
Ellis, Jeffrey C. “On the search for a cause: Essentialist tendencies in environmental discourse.” Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the human place in nature 266 (1996): 258-69.
Cronon, William. “The trouble with wilderness: or, getting back to the wrong nature.” Environmental History 1.1 (1996): 7-28.