The late great Edward Abbey was a fierce defender of the natural environment. He was an early advocate for environmentalism, and his writing helped raise awareness of the importance of preserving our wild places. In Eco Defense, he sets forth his philosophy on how we should treat the natural world.
Abbey believed that humans have a responsibility to respect and protect the environment. He argued that we should use resources wisely, and not exploit or destroy the natural world for our own gain. He also believed that we should allow wilderness areas to remain wild, and not turn them into commercial ventures.
Abbey’s words are as relevant today as they were when he first wrote them. His passion for the environment is evident in every page, and his message is one that we would all do well to heed.
Edward Abbey’s “Eco-Defense” (348) is a good example of one such book. It is clear that certain males and females are prepared to do anything to safeguard the environment in which they reside. The initial paragraph compares safeguarding the American wilderness with the same intensity as defending one’s family and property.
Abbey believes that the same instincts that a person has to protect their loved ones is the same instinct one should have for the natural environment. He further supports this belief by providing evidence of people who went to extremes to prevent pollution and destruction of the land.
Abbey makes it clear that he is an advocate for environmentalism, and believes that people should be willing to do whatever it takes to preserve the planet. Natural resources are essential for human survival, and it is our responsibility to take care of them.
Abbey provides several examples of people who were willing to fight for the environment. One example is George Washington, who fought against British troops in order to protect his country. Another example is Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote a novel that helped abolitionists gain support for their cause.
These people were willing to sacrifice their safety and comfort in order to achieve a greater good. In the same way, we must be willing to protect the environment, even if it means putting ourselves at risk.
We live in a time when the natural environment is under constant threat from human activity. We need to be more like George Washington and Harriet Beecher Stowe, and fight for the planet that we call home. Only by taking action can we hope to preserve the Earth for future generations.
“The value of the land is something I’m willing to sacrifice my life for,” he claims. This is against popular opinion. A reasonable person would not put their lives or those of others they care about at risk for a resource that might be naturally replaced over time. Replacing fossil fuels will take many generations, and by then the environmental damage will have already been done.
To Abbey, this is the only way to protect what he loves, and what he believes is worth saving. In his eyes, if someone does not care enough about the environment to risk their life for it, then they do not deserve to have it. This is a selfless and romantic idea, but not a practical one.
“Tree-spiking is accomplished by driving huge bridge timbers spikes deep into a tree. A second spike is used to extract the first spike from view. The second spike is ultimately removed. Ceramic spikes are used by some mills in an effort to save their equipment and employees, while radicals who want to preserve the environment go around this by using steel spikes.” (Miller)
This demonstrates a lack of respect for the law, as well as an immature side that thinks being in danger is entertaining and exciting. This discredits the author’s claims about sensibility and the necessity to do anything necessary to protect nature.
Abbey is willing to take any steps, no matter how illegal or dangerous, to protect the natural environment. This philosophy is later echoed by Dave Foreman, a founder of Earth First!, who writes in his book Confessions of an Eco-Warrior that “the first rule of ecological warfare is to not damage your own habitat.” (p. xi) Abbey’s actions and words demonstrate a lack of foresight and intelligence, two things that are critical in any effective environmentalist.
Abbey also has a history of making violent and inflammatory statements about environmentalism and those who disagree with him. In an interview with Playboy magazine, he said “I believe in armed revolution…to bring down the industrial-technological system.” (Kats) He has also been quoted as saying “I’d like to kill ’em all.” (Etulain) These types of statements make Abbey look like a radical and paranoid psychopath, which does not help the environmental cause.
Overall, Edward Abbey is not an effective or responsible environmentalist. His philosophy of “the ends justify the means” is dangerous and short-sighted, and his violent rhetoric does more harm than good. If we are to save the natural environment, we need level-headed leaders who are willing to work within the system to achieve change.
“We’ve failed if a spiked tree makes it to a sawmill,” says Mr. Foreman of Earth First in Tucson, Arizona. Mr. Foreman also recognizes that the danger of injuring sawmill staff accompanies with the risk of destroying mill equipment. He has never been inside a sawmill, he revealed. When asked whether his organization had attempted to interact with millworkers rather than endanger them, he responded that efforts at environmentalist-worker solidarity always fail. “
If you want to protect the environment, you have to be willing to hurt people. This seems to be the philosophy of the radical environmental group Earth First, and its founder Edward Abbey.
Abbey, who wrote the book “Eco Defense: A Field Guide To Monkeywrenching,” is considered by many to be the father of radical environmentalism. In his book, Abbey advocates for the use of violence and sabotage in order to protect the natural environment. He writes, “The only thing that may redeem mankind is if enough of us begin tearing down the industrial-growth society and working toward a more decentralized, organic social order.” (Abbey) Essentially, Abbey believes that humans need to destroy modern civilization in order to save the planet.
Abbey’s ideas have been taken up by groups like Earth First, which has engaged in eco-terrorism activities like spiking trees (inserting metal spikes into trees to damage sawmill equipment), setting fire to buildings, and vandalizing construction equipment. In 1986, one member of Earth First, Judi Bari, was seriously injured when a bomb meant for her car exploded, killing her passenger. Bari accused the FBI of planting the bomb, but no charges were ever filed.
There is no question that the natural environment is important and needs to be protected. However, groups like Earth First that resort to violence and sabotage are not the answer. Their actions put innocent people at risk and do nothing to further the cause of environmentalism.