The Media and
FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS, humans have been in constant battle over natural resources, some for their exploitation and others for their protection and preservation for the future. One of the first people in North America—if not the first—to raise their voice in favor of defending wildlife territories was the legendary John Muir (Tolan 1990), known as the “Father of the National Parks. ” For years he traveled through the impressive valleys and mountains of the United States, the forests and glaciers of Alaska, identifying species and marveling at the natural beauty of these wildlands. He also observed how these territories were being threatened by the growing population that was rapidly expanding westward, tearing down forests to establish settlements and raise livestock.
A passionate lover of nature, Muir found that it was not enough to be a passive scholar of nature, classifying species of plants and trees that were rapidly being lost to the logging industry, sheep ranchers, and the accelerated population growth that demanded more and more resources. In his attempt to protect these wildlands, Muir also found that there was a tremendous difference between delivering a seminar to a few people and publishing an article in a journal. Published articles could transmit the impressive beauty of these wildlife areas, the forests that he called the “temples of God, ” to a much wider audience. It was his passionate articles, published in newspapers and magazines, that transported the urban populations to these wild areas, where they would admire them so much that they were moved to protect them.
Biologist Rachel Carson strengthened the environmentalist movement with the publication of her book Silent Spring (1962), in which she warned of the dangers of agricultural chemicals. She was especially concerned with the “miraculous insecticide” DDT, which was gravely contaminating the environment, killing wildlife, and poisoning humans. Once again it was the use of a major media resource that alerted the public