Statements on Environment


In a world where Climate Change is considered one of the most important and urgent issues at hand, even minor alterations made to nature’s natural cycles can disturb the longevity of the planet in a noticeable measure. Our rich history has seen many great speakers, environmentalists, activists and game changers. In the following paper we have selected two important statements ever made in the field of environment. The first one is Chief Seattle’s “Environmental Statement” from 1854 and the second one John Muir’s “American Forests”. These two statements have been declared as one of the most game changing statements in the history of environmental studies.

Chief Seattle’s “Environmental Statement” (1854)

“Man did not weave the web of life – he is merely a stand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” These were the words of Chief Seattle, in reply to the then President’s letter of offer to buy the Indian land in and around the now known state of Seattle. The then President had urged the denizens of Seattle to buy their land and give them protection and enough space to live comfortably. To this offer, Chief Seattle wrote a reply, which has been described as the most profound statements on the environment ever made. Chief Seattle compares the land to a great gift of nature, and warns the “White Chief in Washington”, that he must remember this. He further goes to say that the ashes of their forefathers have been buried in this soil, thus making it their true home, in the real sense. He warns the President, saying that if they agree to sell their land to him, he must take care of this land which belongs to the forefathers and ancestors of the Indian tribes. Chief Seattle’s statement is an emotional anecdote of the feelings of anguish and misery that the Indian tribes suffered then.

John Muir’s “The American Forests” (1897)

John Muir wrote a powerful piece in The Atlantic, back in 1897, when the issue of deforestation for monetization of forest wealth was becoming a burden on the environment crisis of that time. In this article, John Muir decorates the American Forests with a golden platter of adjectives and metaphors, thus glorifying the greatness of the forests, which in his words are providers of fresh air and a natural canopy of protection (The Atlantic, 1897 issue). Further, in the article, he enlists the different policies of different governments around the world including Japan, India and Central European nations to protect their forests and strive for biodiversity. The tone of John Muir’s article is to make the government and the American people alert of the rising problem of deforestation in the United States of America.

Comparison and Contrast

Both the statements/pieces on environment entailed in this paper are important and game changing in their own sense. While analysing these statements it must be noted that they have been written almost 50 years apart. This brings to note that the situations in the USA in these particular time were not the same. Chief Seattle’s statement on the environment can be looked at as a proof of the struggle of freedom and pride that the Indian tribes were fighting for against the government of that time. John Muir’s article, though also directed towards the government, it more or less is also a warning to all the citizens of the country. This contrast of basic purpose can be noted on these two statements about the environment.

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