An outside commentator on American society has access to limited information about American history. She knows only the following: when Europeans came to this continent, it was a “paradise” or “Garden of Eden.” She also knows that the American standard of living and individual freedoms are the envy of much of the world. She knows that Americans, in the 21st century, face an environmental crisis. She wonders how this transformation has come about and wonders how to explain the contradiction between material success and individual freedom, on the one hand, and environmental degradation on the other.
Your task is to clarify for this commentator the history that transformed a continent in four centuries, culminating in the paradox of material and individual success and environmental crisis. In an essay, spell out the connections. Include a description and analysis of the environmental crisis, the historical forces that have contributed to environmental degradation and exploitation, and American traditions, movements, or perspectives that have attempted to counter the impact of “blind progress.” By way of conclusion, make clear your assessment of the relative impact of the forces that have exploited the environment and the forces that have stressed conservation, environmentalism, or an ecological perspective.
Use Sources: First Along the River, 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, Dreamers & Defenders
Include a discussion of the following:
a) The gold rush
b) Capitalism, the frontier & the myth of superabundance, Judeo-Christian tradition, industrialism
c) The Buffalo (Passenger Pigeon)
d) John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, & Hetch Hetchy
e) Aldo Leopold
f) The Dust Bowl
g) Rachel Carson & Earth Day
h) conservative backlash (see First Along the River, chapter 8)
i) The Environment in the Post-9/11 World (See First Along the River, ch. 11)
j) Global warming, Flint, Michigan, Environmental Crisis
k) “Earth & the American Dream”
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.