I find it interesting the process by which popular opinion on a matter changes. On the topic of nature/environment in particular, the way in which the idea of it transformed from being detested to revered from one period to the next.
How did this happen? Before the 18th century, most people believed that nature was alien, exploitable, and a thing to be conquered. However, once American colonialists became increasingly concentrated into cities and artists such as William Gilpin and Carlton Watkins romanticized natural environments through their art, people began to yearn for what they no longer had or had never experienced (Cox, Chapter 2).
While I do believe it true that the discourse by many figures (some popular) helped chang mainstream opinion on nature and its value, I do not think that it was the only major factor at play. I think that even while most people were living in rural areas, there were artists expressing the beauty of nature and their surroundings. Why didn’t most people love nature and wilderness then? I believe it is because whilst directly in it and subject to it, people focused more on the negative aspects of it. However, once more people started living in cities and birthing new humans that had never experienced complete nature, they grew nostalgic. We never miss something until it’s gone.
I personally feel more comfortable in city environments because it is what I am used to, the environment that I was raised in. I know how it works, I know what to expect in the city. In nature, I feel very vulnerable because I am unprepared. I don’t know how anything works there. Nevertheless, when I think of how my ancestors used to live in tune with nature and even when I see people now that are able to live within natural environments, I am wistful. And despite my unfamiliarity with nature I value and respect it, and realize its importance as a source of life in every way.
Cox, Robert. “Chapter 2 Contested Meanings of Environment.” Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere.