A 19th Century Environmentalist for Our Times

Unlike some of his contemporaries, George Perkins Marsh knew that we can’t separate man and nature.

George Dillard
The New Climate.


George Perkins Marsh (public domain)

One time in the 1890s, the environmentalist John Muir found himself in a huge thunderstorm in the Sierras. Though a storm like this would probably scare you or me, he loved it, saying that “Nature was holding high festival, and every fiber of the most rigid giants thrilled with glad excitement.”

Muir loved the storm so much, in fact, that he decided to tie himself to the top of a huge tree to feel the windstorm as fully as possible:

I kept my lofty perch for hours, frequently closing my eyes to enjoy the music by itself, or to feast quietly on the delicious fragrance that was streaming past…

When the storm began to abate, I dismounted and sauntered down through the calming woods. The storm-tones died away, and, turning toward the east, I beheld the countless hosts of the forests hushed and tranquil, towering above one another on the slopes of the hills like a devout audience. The setting sun filled them with amber light, and seemed to say, while they listened, “My peace I give unto you.”

As I gazed on the impressive scene, all the so called ruin of the storm was forgotten, and never before did these…