“Maybe you were never actually lonely for other people. All along, maybe you were lonely for the earth.”
― Heather Durham, Going Feral: Field Notes on Wonder and Wanderlust
Mother Earth has been cradling mankind on her bosom since time immemorial. She gives us food, clothing, and shelter. Actually, she is the one who essentially provides us with everything. With the evolving times, we are slowly away from nature. Industrialization and urbanization have glossed our lives with a sheer veneer of civilization. We have been slowly and steadily immersing ourselves in the transient world of materialism. In the process, we have been ignoring nature. When we are not busy being indifferent to our planet, we are exploiting it for all that it is worth. All this has taken a toll on us as well. We feel lonely in a crowd of people. A strange sense of detachment seems to haunt us everywhere. The emotionally intelligent among us have identified the crux of the matter. They know that the solution lies in going back to nature. However, that is always not possible. Our busy schedules and worldly obligations do not allow us to leave everything and run free in the woodlands. We cannot hike a mountain or go for a relaxing stroll on the beach whenever the mood strikes us.
So, what do we do? How do we forge back our bonds with nature? Well, the answer is through backs. Books wield the power to teleport us to faraway places and rekindle our relationship with nature. A great many talented authors had taken it upon themselves to craft stories inspired by nature. They have traversed the world and endeavored to record their jaw-dropping experiences for us.
Let us have a look at some of the great writers who first wrote about nature.
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau is a pioneer of nature writing. The American philosopher, writer, and activist attained little recognition during his lifetime. It was after his death that the world understood his value. Thoreau was not very happy with the materialistic ways of life. He did not crib about it. Instead, he took action. In 1845, he went on to live a solitary self-sufficient life on the shore of Walden Pond in Massachusetts. He condensed his stay of two years to one year and chronicled it in his epic book, Walden. During his time there, he built his own house and grew his own food. He lived a simple life yet happy life close to nature. Indeed, Henry David Thoreau was an environmentalist who preached what he practiced.
John Muir is a man after whom mountains are named. He is the man who came up with the revolutionary idea of establishing national parks. Born in Scotland, Muir came to Wisconsin when he was just a boy. Since childhood, he was enthralled with nature and its beauty. He undertook his first hike when he traveled 1000 miles from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867. Muir dedicated his life to exploration. Wandering in the wilds of the West was a particular passion of his. He gave his all to protect the untouched lands. He is responsible for the creation of Yosemite National Park and other conservation areas. His Sierra Club, established in 1892, became a bastion for environmentalists. The Yosemite, Travels in Alaska, The Mountains of California, and Our National Parks among others are some of his noteworthy books.
Rachel Carson was a renowned author and scientist. She is rightfully hailed as the founder of the modern environmental movement by many. Carson’s books, The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Under the Sea Wind among others have left a spectacular impact on the world. Silent Spring is one of her most acclaimed books. Here, she revealed how pesticides degraded the environment. As per her, pesticides are “biocides,” killers of life. It was due to her efforts that pesticides like DDT were banned.
Henry Beston was a renowned American author and naturalist. His experiences in the First World War had left him shaken. After returning from the war, he embarked on his writing career. He escaped to the world of fairy tales and penned books like The Firelight Fairy Book and The Starlight Wonder Book. In 1928, Beston crafted the seminal classic, The Outermost House. Here, he chronicled his stay on the outer beach at Eastham on Cape Cod. Many believe that the book was a primary influence in the establishment of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Henry Beston lived nature and his influence on environmentalists is undeniable. Even, Rachel Carson considers him to be the only author who influenced her.
Born in Pennsylvania, Edward Abbey dedicated his life to the environment. He relentlessly defended the deserts of the Southwest. His book, Desert Solitaire, had a spectacular impact on the environmental movement. Even today, its influence is undeniable. It is believed that Abbey’s book, The Monkey Wrench Gang, was the inspiration for the radical environmental group, Earth First! Scandalously, the group is alleged to have taken part in eco-sabotage by some. Irrespective of this, Edward Abbey remains a powerful voice advocating environmentalism. His works are a must-read for all nature lovers.
Aldo Leopold is a renowned ecologist and author. Though he worked for the U.S. Forest Service after graduating from Yale University, he was not too happy to kill bears, cougars, and other wild animals. His book, A Sand County is an ardent appeal to preserve the wilderness. Game Management, Round River, For the Health of the Land, and The River of the Mother of God among others are some of his notable works. Aldo Leopold is justifiably considered to be the godfather of wilderness conservation and modern ecologists.
Authors have been writing about nature since the time of the Rig Veda. The poets of the Romantic Age have all waxed poetic about the beauty of nature. From William Wordsworth to John Keats, all have gifted us with magical pieces of poetry focusing on nature. With time, awareness has increased. People gave slowly started understanding the value of protecting the environment. We now know the importance of nature in our lives. So, even if you do not have the time to enjoy a nice day appreciating the majesty of nature, spend a few moments a day with a book on nature. Take the effort to reconnect with Mother Earth. I guarantee you that the results would be astounding.
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One thought on “A Green Perspective: Best Environmentalist Authors”
This piece moved me. I am, truly, lonely (and longing) for the Earth. I’m familiar with Thoreau, but I’ll make sure to check out the rest of the authors.