Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Learning About Our Environment--Muir

One of the major values that I hold is a comprehensive and abiding appreciation of our environment. Or, maybe better to say, a comprehensive and abiding appreciation for our environment as it may once have been with a lot less human disruption and as it might become again when human disruption is dramatically and tellingly reduced. It's a major reason that I'm a Neo-Pagan.

Growing up in the Northern part of San Francisco Bay, California, I learned about our environment from all sorts of experiences and resources and disputes and discussions and concerns. What I learned shaped my world view and my active relationship with the environment. Over a few blog posts, I'm going to take a look at a few of the things that I learned about our environment early on.

Here's some, linked by John Muir.

John Muir is probably California's most noted environmentalist. An inspiration to generations of people with a concern for the environment.

He hoped to preserve regions like Yosemite as pristine wildernesses. He pretty much got the National Park system going. He founded and led the Sierra Club. He held that wilderness offered a path to some sort of spiritual wisdom, different from and better than whatever human civilization was up to. His last home, now a National Historical Monument, was few miles southeast down the road from mine.

His last battle for preserving the environment was over Hetch Hetchy. At the beginning of the 20th Century, Hetch Hetchy was a beautiful valley on the Tuolumne River, within Yosemite National Park. San Francisco wanted water. Congress passed the Raker Act. O'Shaughnessy Dam got built. The Hetch Hetchy got flooded. San Francisco got water. Lots of folks, including me, are still upset by this disruption of our environment. Lots of California politics is about water, who gets it, where it goes, and what we'll do to have it. California is a very thirsty region.

A little ways the other direction from my home town is Muir Woods National Monument, an enchanted grove of old-growth Redwood trees that were preserved by other folks with an eye and heart for natural beauty.

So a good deal of my early learning about our environment revolved around John Muir, one way or another.

John Muir:

Hetch Hetchy:

Muir Woods:

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