Environmental Movement: The Sierra Club

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The environmental movement has its roots in organizations run by people that share common concerns related to their immediate surroundings. While major activism in favor of environmentalism did not pick up speed until the 1960s, the Sierra Club had been advocating for the protection of the environment since its inception in 1892. The Sierra Club was founded as a grassroots preservationist organization and it still follows some of the ideals associated with such an organization, but investigation into various campaigns before and after the professionalization of the organization in the 1970s demonstrates how the Sierra Club transformed and altered its mission to best fit the environmental activist form of the times. By definition, a grassroots…show more content…
These explorations included a one-thousand mile walk from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico (dictated in his book A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf), the Sierras, Yosemite Valley, the Northwestern United States, and Alaska (Merchant 2007:245). The exposure to the wonder of the Sierras and the Yosemite Valley really captivated Muir and inspired him. Being raised in a Protestant household, Muir attempted to understand God in terms of traditional religion, but abandoned this cause and chose to “seek God in the richness and beauty of nature” (245). As noted on the Sierra Club’s website, John Muir at least in part accomplished this search because he is quoted saying “then it [seems] to me the Sierra should be called no the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light...the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen” (Sierra Club 2015:John Muir). Muir married in 1880 and remained primarily settled for ten years but still traveled when he could, especially to his beloved Sierras (Sierra Club 2015:John…show more content…
A recurrent theme of John Muir’s writings revolved around the wonder and awe-inspiring majesty of the yet untouched natural world and called for halts to the destruction of nature and also championed the foundation of a national park service to preserve the forests and mountains as they were (Merchant 2007:245). This viewpoint reflects a traditional preservationist frame: wild nature is part of the American character and has its own aesthetic and recreational benefit so it should be protected as it stands (147-148). Furthermore, Guha discusses how Muir cited nature’s intrinsic spiritual value and the fact that humans are just part of greater creation as causes for efforts to protect the Sierra Nevada Mountains for future generations to appreciate their beauty (Guha 2000:52). Ultimately, Muir’s preservationist leanings and gifted writings in favor of the environment led him to be a forerunner in environmental campaigns that specifically fought for that intrinsic value of

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