Preserving Wilderness: A Key to Understanding Civilization’s Impact on Nature

February 21, 2019


In his influential book “The Unsettling of America,” Wendell Berry makes a compelling case for the preservation of wilderness as a standard of civilization and a cultural model. In this post, we delve deeper into Berry’s thought-provoking statement, exploring the significance of preserving undisturbed areas and how they provide us with valuable insights into the impact of civilization on its natural sources.

The Importance of Undisturbed Wilderness:

According to Berry, the preservation of wilderness is crucial as it gives us an opportunity to comprehend the real impact of civilization on the environment. When natural processes are left undisturbed, we can witness and comprehend the land in its original state, devoid of human intervention. It is only through this lens that we can accurately evaluate the changes that civilization has brought about.

Moving Beyond Numbers and Statistics:

I completely agree with Berry’s point that quantitative data alone cannot fully capture the impact of civilization on nature. To truly understand the effects of human activities on the environment, we need to witness and experience the changes ourselves. By observing the rates of erosion, changes in soil structure, or fertility, we can gain a deeper awareness of the consequences of our actions and take meaningful steps to minimize our negative impact.

The Cultural Model of Wilderness:

Wilderness serves as more than just a reference point for assessing ecological change — it also acts as a cultural model. Preserving undisturbed natural spaces enables us to reconnect with the intrinsic value of the environment. It inspires us to embrace sustainable practices as we bear witness to the beauty, resilience, and interconnectedness of the natural world. Wilderness becomes a source of inspiration, guiding our actions towards a more harmonious relationship with the Earth.

Finding Balance between Civilization and Nature:

Preserving wilderness is not about excluding human civilization but rather understanding our place within the larger ecosystem. It highlights the need for a balance that respects and sustains the land, ensuring the longevity of both human society and the environment. By recognizing the importance of wilderness as a cultural model, we can build a future that integrates ecological principles, fostering a more sustainable and compassionate world.

Wendell Berry’s call to preserve wilderness as a standard of civilization and a cultural model rings true today. As we face pressing environmental challenges, it is essential to protect undisturbed areas and appreciate their role in understanding civilization’s impact on nature. By valuing wilderness, we can deepen our connection to the natural world, inspire sustainable practices, and pave the way for a more harmonious coexistence between civilization and the environment. Let us heed the wisdom of preserving wilderness, preserving our planet’s irreplaceable beauty and ecological balance for generations to come.

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