Thoughts on The Meadowlands and Cronon

I would say I enjoyed this book by Robert Sullivan. The stories from people from the area and what they thought of the meadowlands made the book even more enjoyable and pretty easy to relate to. Sullivan’s creative writing and  descriptions of the areas also made it possible to easily picture the area. The one idea that really stood out in the book to me, but wasn’t elaborated on too much, was the idea of what we as a society think of as productive land and what is worthwhile to keep and protect. I have always thought that it was strange how society could say one type of land was more beneficial for the preservation of our environment than another area of land, like the meadowlands. In the United States, the amount of wetlands that have been destroyed because people think wetlands are wastelands is huge, Ohio has lost about 90% of their original wetlands. Today we have a better understanding and appreciation for wetlands and are trying to protect and restore them now, but a lot of the land loss is irreversible. If humans can’t find a specific resource in the land that benefits them,  it shouldn’t automatically allow the destruction of it, that the land is beneficial to the whole ecosystem and in turn beneficial to us, even if we cannot see it on the surface.

I also thought it was very interesting trying to imagine all of the dumps burning and the types of toxic waste that was dumped into the meadowlands without a second thought of the health and environmental damages it was causing then, and the damages and problems it is still causing today. I also couldn’t imagine how much corruption and the mafia played a role as to what was being put into the meadowlands. The idea that the mafia owned dump would take just about anything that other dumps deemed toxic, and then use the toxic-ness of their dump to hide and dispose of any incriminating evidence against them was amazingly disturbing.

So, The Trouble With Wilderness. I thought that his point on “uninhabited wilderness” was pretty enlightening. I never really thought about it that way, but in reality I know when I think of wilderness, I never put people in my picture, and people have been inhabiting the “wilderness” of North America for at least 15,000 years (and I don’t put Woolly Mammoths or dinosaurs in my pictures either so I’m not thinking prehistorically). Cronon says, “If we allow ourselves to believe that nature, to be true, must also be wild, then our very presence in nature represents its fall”. So in theory we cannot ever see nature in its true form, which I think is kind of depressing. I also think that it’s not really true either. I believe that “wilderness” is so far removed from society and our day-to-day lives that nature for our purposes can be an area free from any human disruption (by disruption I mean permanent changes to the area). Honestly, as far as Cronon goes… seems all over the place to me, bringing God and religion into it and all…

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