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John Muir No Longer Relevant?

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John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby ERIC » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:13 am

John Muir's legacy questioned as centennial of his death nears

By LOUIS SAHAGUN
LA Times
11-13-2014


John Muir is the patron saint of environmentalism, an epic figure whose writings of mystical enlightenment attained during lone treks in California's wilderness glorified individualism, saved Yosemite and helped establish the national park system.

As the first president of the Sierra Club, Muir shaped enduring perceptions about how the wild world should be prioritized, protected and managed.

But now some critics are arguing that the world has changed so much in the century since his death that Muir has gone the way of wheelwrights.

He is no longer relevant.

"Muir's legacy has to go," said Jon Christensen, a historian with UCLA's Institute of Environment and Sustainability. "It's just not useful anymore."

Christensen and others see Muir's beliefs as antiquated in the face of 21st century environmental challenges that the bushy-bearded Scot could not have imagined: population growth, urban sprawl, demographic shifts, climate change.

The debate boils down to Muir's primary ethic: The wilderness is a temple to be left undisturbed, so man occasionally can experience nature in its purity. That precept helped shape a century of conservation, ensuring that there would be unspoiled wilderness for succeeding generations.

"He had a huge passion for nature, such as we should all cherish in our hearts," said Mary Ellen Hannibal, a Bay Area author and...

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/local/california ... story.html
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby Cross Country » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:28 am

I'll bet that all of us here believe that Muir is still relevant.
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby Vaca Russ » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:40 am

Please excuse this rant... :soapbox:

This guy Jon Christensen is obvious a racist and discriminates against people of age,

"Yet the conservation movement reflects the legacy of John Muir, and its influence on a certain demographic — older and white — and that's a problem," Christensen said.

The conservation movement has absolutely nothing to do with race, class, gender, political affiliation, gender orientation or whatever non-sense human label he wants to apply.

The conservation movement is about conserving wilderness pure and simple.

Jon, go back to your ivory tower in acedemia and and leave the wilderness alone!

End of :soapbox: .

Thanks,

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby austex » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:52 am

To quote a famous wabitt: "What a maroon!!"
If I had gone to UnelightenedCLA (sorry to those guilty/tainted by association) and took one of Mr. Jon Christensen's classes I'd at least get a D for a grade as I would challenge him on the mat just out of principle. Instead I graduated CSUN with the largest map library west of the Mississippi and a great group of professors in the Geography Dept. They didn't have their head in their a$$es.
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby Jimr » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:52 am

<<But now some critics are arguing that the world has changed so much in the century since his death that Muir has gone the way of wheelwrights.

He is no longer relevant.>>

I wonder if he feels the same way regarding the United States Constitution and its framers.
What?!
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby maverick » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:53 am

So ridiculous, and inflammatory, won't even waste my time in making any further comment.
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby LMBSGV » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:55 am

Unfortunately, Christensen has too many people who agree with him. Kenneth Brower wrote an excellent essay on those academics and fools who want to redefine wilderness in the Sierra magazine's issue on the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2014-4 ... wilderness

As a resident of west Marin who therefore had the Drakes Bay Oyster Company fight as the most contentious local issue for the past few years, I read and heard from a lot of those people who wanted to redefine wilderness as a way to justify their support for the oyster company.
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby oldranger » Fri Nov 14, 2014 7:17 pm

Me thinks Christensen is just trying to stir the pot or maybe just the author of the article.

1. He (Christensen) is not an academician but an adjunct professor who is a journalist. So to blame "head in the sky academicians" is misinformation and to grab a stereotype that is often misplaced and in this case just wrong.

2. I haven't been able to drum up any of his writings, only soundbites, that seem to emphasize the points of controversy.

3. From the article the main point I could glean is:

[quote][To Christensen and others, however, Muir's notion that immersing people in "universities of the wilderness" — such as Yosemite — sends the message that only awe-inspiring parks are worth saving, at the expense of smaller urban spaces./quote]

I think the point is debatable but with growing population and such things as wilderness quotas it is clear that opportunities for conveniening with nature should be available in and near urban settings. I have enjoyed those opportunities in the communities I am most familiar with (Bend, Bellingham, and Boise, hmm all start with B). I disagree with Christensen in that he implies that one must focus on one or the other.

4. Muir was inconsistent in his view of nature. Yes Muir could be inconsistent, depending on context. But who among us are consistent in how we view the world. I personally love "wilderness" but that "wilderness" has surely been impacted by the fish, introduced by humans, that I love angle for and, occasionally catch. So What?

5. I think that Christensen implies that the movement initiated by Muir was elitist and that seems to be true and how could it be otherwise. Look at the core members of the Sierra Club from 1900 thru the 1930s. Most were faculty and alumni of Cal Berkley and Stanford. Who else but "wild eyed, effeminate" liberals could see the value in "Wilderness" back in the day?

The Sierra Club was sort of an "old boys club" that included women. Not a lot of working class people.

Christensen's critics point out, rightly I think, that the movement that led to the protection of "Wilderness" is the legacy regardless of "who" was involved. And today the movement is much broader than in the early days. So to Christensen I say, "So What?"

I use wilderness in quotation marks because I am not quite sure what "Wilderness" is given that areas with tree stumps, road cuts, barbed wire fences, and structures have be designated wilderness and more such areas on the horizon.


Ultimately my question to Christensen is, " What is your alternative paradigm?" Maybe he has stated it somewhere, but beyond the quotation above, the article did little to elaborate on the point of Christensen's proposal. I suspect there is more but there is nothing in the article that suggests he is proposing to eliminate wilderness or open wilderness to exploitive uses.

If some one could come up with more detailed information on his position we might have a clearer Idea of what his position is. Remember this is just one persons presentation of Christensen's position with a couple of quotes. I wouldn't jump to conclusions.

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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby longri » Fri Nov 14, 2014 8:04 pm

It's a troll. Nobody listens to the guy, nobody's heard of him. So he tries to make a wave. It's a little sad that this historian is so irrelevant himself that he must take this tack.

But what about Fleet Enema's ad to "Keep the Backcountry Clean"? Why no outrage over that?
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby oldranger » Fri Nov 14, 2014 9:52 pm

he's not a historian!!

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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby dave54 » Fri Nov 14, 2014 10:30 pm

It's a blog.

No one takes blogs or newspaper editorials seriously. They are nothing but random musings of an uninformed mind and should not be confused with any factual representations.

Remember the meaning of the word 'expert' -- an 'ex' is a has been, and a 'spurt' is a drip under pressure.
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Re: John Muir No Longer Relevant?

Postby Hobbes » Sat Nov 15, 2014 8:33 am

oldranger wrote: Who else but "wild eyed, effeminate" liberals could see the value in "Wilderness" back in the day?


Mike, you make some excellent points, especially identifying the main charges leveled against the original principles espoused by the Sierra club. In fact, with that kind of opposition, I've always doubted the ethic that 'wilderness as a temple to be left undisturbed, so man occasionally can experience nature in its purity' was, by itself, a compelling selling point.

Rather, as the US represented a global expansionary, commercial proposition, it needed a muscular framework for both training & propaganda purposes eg the Western cowboy. Framing wilderness as the US's versions of the 'The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton' was a stroke of genius.

This subject was mostly likely discussed by TR & JM on their extended trip together. TR, being the consummate politician, probably was in complete agreement with Muir as to ideals. But he knew East coast interests, who couldn't give a fig for solitude and only saw the resource opportunities, would support the imagery of a strong, dominant American workforce & military posture.

Awesome tactics, the result being the creation a huge playground for those who know the secret. And it wasn't even a true diversion - the mountain division next to Sonora pass is there for a reason.
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