Desert Solitaire described a very different view of wilderness, preservation, and civilization than the Meadowlands. I think Abbey’s opinion shows more of the frontier man attitude, taking on the “untouched” wilderness, only wanting those who will truly leave civilization behind in order to come to the park to experience it. This is the more common viewpoint I think most “tree-hugger” environmentalists have. Abbey finds his paradise in Arches, which does bring a new viewpoint, as most people cling to the beach or the mountains or the forest, but he clings to the desert.
I think this book shows more of the internal struggle that I feel when talking about wilderness than Meadowlands. For example, Abbey talks about how he feels that there must be places set aside as wilderness that go unchanged by humans, or at least which aren’t “industrially toured” and are, rather, experienced like a frontier man would experience them. He also says that the places should be set aside regardless of whether people have the ability to see them, simply for them to have the idea of the ability to escape to these places. However, he feels that it is important for people to be a part of society as well as be a part of nature, and I think in this argument his ideas are not fully fleshed out. Abbey feels very strongly about this point but because he is coming at the issue from a strictly environmentalist viewpoint he is missing the discussion on how to be a part of both worlds, and is only including how to separate yourself from society and why to do so.
Another thing that Abbey discusses is the idea that National parks should be, as was their original intent, and the original purpose of the parks department in regards to these parks, left essentially unaltered by humans. This is an idea I have a hard time with, because I agree that when people tear down the forests to make roads or make bridges over land gaps and mess with the natural beauty of the land, that they are destroying an important aspect of the National parks. However, I also understand that in terms of utilitarianism, when the parks are inaccessible to the majority of people, and are therefore being left unvisited, that they are not serving their economic purpose and that its really difficult to justify this to people who don’t care about the environment or who don’t have the opportunity to visit these places, and therefore only get the theory of these places. I understand the difficulty and the necessity of setting these places aside, and so I have a hard time with this particular question of how much is acceptable to change for nothing but human entertainment.
I found it interesting that Abbey did talk about the dangers of the desert, the unpredictability, the poisonous species, the lack of water, the quicksand. This was something brought up as an important part of wilderness, as opposed to nature, that I hadn’t really ever considered, because where I have been, there are trails, there are people removing poisonous species and placing them away from where the humans are, there are marked off areas of danger, and guard rails, so what I have considered wilderness has never given me a sense of danger, but just an idea of wonder and strange power. However, I think that it is important to understand the danger of wild places, but I don’t know that it is particularly important to fear it.
I really liked the contemplation of what makes the desert unique, I thought that this was important because this is something that comes up a lot when people who don’t understand where you’re coming from when you talk about how great a place is or how different, or whatever, and I have come across similar questioning. I agree that it is a difficult question to answer, and I think Abbey hits the nail on the head when he says that the problem is two-fold, because you not only have to figure out the exact thing that makes a place unique, which is kind of indescribable, and then you have to figure out why that indescribable uniqueness is different from other place’s indescribable uniqueness.
I also think it is worthwhile to discuss closing all the roads and only allowing people to bike or walk (66)
NEWS: New fruit varieties coming to market thanks to U of G research
In University of Guelph, Canada, there are researchers who have developed 2 new late-producing plum varieties, and 2 new early-producing peach species. They believe that these may help with food sustainability in Canada, as currently their fruit produces a little bit after that of the US, so they are importing a large amount of fruit from the US, and these varieties could help curb that. Additionally, these varieties, growing when they do, are more likely to be weather resistant because the peaches are ready for harvest before the variable conditions of the summer, in terms of drought, and the plums are later producing, also allowing them to avoid the variable summer weather. They are hoping that the plants will go on the market as soon as possible.