Lucy Weltner considers the legacy of the in-your-face environmentalist Edward Abbey:
Compared to the pragmatic environmentalism of many contemporary lobbying groups, Abbey’s vigilante movement doesn’t make much long term tactical sense. As opposed to presenting the government with viable, environmentally friendly alternatives to copper smelting and fracking, Abbey preaches the wholesale destruction of mining equipment. Instead of appealing to construction workers by providing safer, equally profitable jobs, Abbey’s vigilante idealists turn workers and governments against environmentalism by dynamiting bulldozers. While defending pristine wilderness against construction and degradation, Abbey (and many of his characters) accidentally set forest fires and leave chunks of burning metal strewn on the forest floor.
In fact, there is evidence to suggest that the sort of communing with nature Abbey promotes may be counterproductive to his goals.
An increasing number of studies show residents of less developed natural areas produce larger carbon footprints; the transportation of food and conveniences to off-the-grid areas exacerbates environmental devastation. Moreover, naturalists agree not only development, but also human traffic, threatens the health of pristine ecosystems. Many well-regarded ecological developers support a sustainable model of growth which confines humans to bustling urban centers, warning against too much human interference with wild lands. Perhaps we’d all be better off holed up in our solar powered homes, leaving the environment in peace.
The above photo is by Arty Guerillas, who offers this Abbey quote:
We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to go there…. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope.