This book has some definitive themes that largely influence its content:
-The first one is the issue of accessibility in national parks. The Park Service has two kinds of people running for them: Developers and Preservers. The Developers are the ones that are all for having the parks fully accessible to all people and their accompanying machinery (Industrial Tourists as Abbey so calls them). The Preservers are against that and think that machines should be left out of the park experience. Abbey, as well as I, are with the Preservers on this one. He states that cars should no longer be allowed in the parks, no more new roads should be built to the parks, and that park rangers should actually be put to work. That last one is ironic considering he is a park ranger, but from his point of view most of them just reside in their offices most of the time. He thinks they should be out experiencing their job and learning as much as they can so that they can more of assistance to the people as well as to themselves. In his eyes, leaving automobiles out of the equation will lead to an increased enjoyment/interest in the activities that you can do there. Why bring all that modernized stuff to a place where you are going to escape from modernity for a little while? Not building anymore roads would make the park seem less crowded as well, retaining its actual size. When it comes to people that are not easily able to come to the parks or do the activities (such as children, the elderly, and the handicapped), he does not think that they need to be there. They can either wait longer to go or it was their fault they did not go when their lives were in better condition (with the exception of the handicapped). That I also agree with.
-Another one is the concept of overpopulation in our world. He mentions this on multiple accounts, portraying that the increasing numbers of people are causing multiple problems. In the case of the Navajo Indians for instance, he explained that their dramatic jump in population size lead to overuse of the land by not being able to accommodate that many people, falling into poverty with slummy living conditions and low income based jobs, and to the use of drugs and alcohol to cope. It is a kind of snowball effect in a way; one bad thing just continuously leading to another. All of this because of overpopulation. This is just one example; it’s happening to all kinds of different people across the planet. Here is an article proving that. Abbey even states that the two basic causes of poverty are: too many children (in relation to overpopulation) and too little money (from having too many children). He also mentions his view on water shortage in the desert, which is that there is none; there is as much water there as there should be unless you put a city there that shouldn’t be there. Overpopulation causes places like that to have development, where normally people would not thrive and therefore start claims that that area is not accommodating when it really is for its original inhabitants. As Edward quoted: “There are no vacant lots in nature”. He even made a connection to of overpopulation to industry, using Europe as an example. With increases in population come advances in technology because more people are around to make things better. Basically he links the tyranny in those countries such as Germany to continuing industrialization and says that if we let our population get out of control that we could end up having a tyranny of our own. I truly believe that there should be a law everywhere limiting the number of children that you are allowed to have and have birth control more easily accessible. These would help reduce all of the problems discussed above.
-The author does explore the term “wilderness” briefly, just like we did on the first day of class. He used some words to describe Arches National Park that were controversial to our discussion such as wilds, the wild, wasteland, useless, and unprofitable, showing some of the typical ideas of what people think of when they hear the word. He also has a hard time defining the term like anyone else does, but to him it is part of Paradise which refers to earth itself. He sees wilderness as vital to the human civilization because it is where we originated from and what made us who we are today.