There’s never any good environmental news anymore. Seems like it is always bad. Climate change. Receding polar ice caps. Rising seas. Diminishing forests. Disappearing wetlands. Habitat loss. Polluted lakes and rivers. Endangered wildlife. Drought. Wildfires. More frequent and intense hurricanes and tornadoes. Overpopulation. There are more, but listing them all is too exhausting. For anyone looking for something positive and uplifting about the state of our environment, “A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir’s Journey through an Endangered Land” by Dan Chapman, is . . . not it. To be clear, this book is interesting, important, informative, and well-written, however, it provides little reason for optimism regarding the long-term health of our natural wonders, especially in America’s Southeast. Dan Chapman is a journalist and an all-around outdoors-y guy. He wanted to replicate famed naturalist John Muir’s 1867 hike through the South. Well, replicate in a general sense, modern realities would preclude a true recreation of Muir’s journey. Chapman did some hiking and camping where Muir could have been 150 years ago, but he had to do a lot of driving along the general route, too. Muir hiked through a forested wonderland, with pristine lakes and rivers, teeming with wildlife, interrupted intermittently by pockets of civilization. Chapman’s trip through the South was more like strip mall after strip mall interrupted by pockets of nature. Okay, maybe that is overstating it a bit, but not by much. “A Road Running Southward” is one of many books to sound the alarm on the degradation of our environment. If we’re lucky, there will be many more books, because these problems cannot continue to be ignored. We will never go back to the way it was in John Muir’s time, of course. However, do we not have a moral obligation to leave a livable planet for future generations?
Oct 31, 2022