John Muir; forestry; Sierra Club

Essay by atlanticaHigh School, 12th gradeA+, December 2002

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"Most people are on the world, not in it. - Have no conscious sympathy or relationship to anything about them - undiffused, separate, and rigidly alone like marbles of polished stone, touching but separate." - John Muir

American explorer, naturalist, and writer John Muir was a crusader for the creation and preservation of national parks and the conservation of natural resources in the late 1800s. Muir was perhaps this country's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist. He taught the people of his time and ours the importance of experiencing and protecting our natural heritage. His words have heightened our perception of nature. His personal and determined involvement in the great conservation questions of the day was and remains an inspiration for environmental activists everywhere.

Knowing of people's love of beauty and their great need for it, Muir gave his life to help them discover beauty in the earth around them and to arouse their desire to protect it.

The machine, Muir knew, could easily level the woods and make the land desolate. Humankind's mission on earth is not to destroy: it is to protect and conserve all living things. "There is a place for trees and flowers and birds, as well as for people. Never should we try to crowd them out of the universe." John Muir saw Nature as not just a storehouse of raw materials for man's economic needs, but as a spiritual resource as well. He wrote, humorously, "Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants, and lawgivers are ever at their wit's end devising. The hall and the theater and the church have been invented and compulsory education. Why not add compulsory recreation?" In 1870, he realized that preservation of the American wilderness was necessary for all people. By 1889, Muir had put all other...