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Posted on August 19th, 2012, by

People’s relations with nature are the subject of great discussion today. It is about time people stopped their consuming way of life cutting down forests, endangering animals’ lives and destroying unique plants. Different authors and writers show their attitude to this problem in their works and such examples can be found Reinventing Garden by Carolyn Merchant, Fast Food Nation by Schlosser and The Norton Book of Nature writing edited by Robert Finch and John Elder.

Carolyn Merchant is an environmental historian and her book is in first turn aims to make people think about the modern ecological situation. She proposes ways to overcome the ecological crisis and presents her conception of Eden on the Earth. There are a few theories about the existence of Eden and possibilities to recover it.

Merchant gives her reasons why the myths of lost Eden led to the modern state of nature, degradation of our planets and people’s destructive attitude to the treasures of the earth. People started manipulating the environment and natural resources in the name of so-called Eden search. Some centuries ago New World was considered to be Eden. In the project of the transforming the New World into an Eden, first the Eastern forests were converted into the garden farms and later the Western deserts were irrigated to form fertile fields and pastures. Indians had burned the forest in order to plant corn, beans, and squash; for ease of passage; and to produce browse that attracted deer (Merchant, 96). In this scenario people tried to conquer nature not taking into account its strength, complexity and chaotic character.

People tried to create an artificial world neglecting natural laws. Nature has a set of rules a man must follow. Otherwise, the reaction of nature is unpredictable and numerous natural disasters are the best evidence of this fact.

Merchant suggests her own scenario in which relations between men, women and nature are based on cooperation. In this scenario both, nature and people’s need are taken into account. The idea of a balance of nature that humans could disrupt implied that people could repair damaged ecosystems with better practices. The idea that biodiversity led ecosystem stability meant that species conservation and ecologic restoration could improve ecosystem health (Merchant, 116). The motto of Merchant’s book is to live in peace with nature in order to preserve this earth for future generations.

Schlosser in his book Fast Food Nation also examines relations between people, nature and animals, however, from another perspective.

Fast Food Industry that has been rapidly developing during last 30-40 years has invaded the whole American nation. People stopped caring about their health and animals around them. Great fast food companies, such as McDonald’s or Burgers King, have become the biggest meat purchasers today. They require so much meat that cattle raising increase practically every day. Such tempts of meat production will definitely have effects on animal life and quality of meat. This have already noticed outbreaks of food-borne pathogens and different pathologists.

Fast Food consumption proves one more time that people do not think about their and their children’s future. Eating food with chemicals people endanger their life. America can be called Fast Food Nation without any concern: In 1970, Americans spent $6 billion on fast food; in 2000 they spent more than $110 billion. Americans now spend much money on fast food than on higher education, personal computers, computer software, or new cars. They spend more on fast  food than on movies, books, magazines, newspapers, video and recorded music – combined (Schlosser, 3). It is a kind of paradox that in the 21st century when so many inventions and discoveries have been made, people still choose products of low quality, contribute to the development of fast food corporations and justify these corporations’ actions. It is a step back in the evolution: we are not developing and improving conditions of life but just moving in the direction of degradation and endangering our health.

Moreover, Schlosser insists that the real danger to our health that is caused by the great consumption of fast food is hidden from the mass media and public. Fast food monopolies do not follow safety food norms and care only about the increase of production.

It goes without saying that any industry must be profitable and fast food industry is not an exception. Due to low prices on fast food products profits are based on low material costs and cheap human labor. In the background of low material resources lies inappropriate attitude to nature. People now do not think about natural laws not being aware that any jokes and tricks with nature will have terrible consequences. People want to be above nature but nature will definitely win in this fight.

The quality of meat used in fast food industry is the question of greatest significance: Although the U.S. government can demand the nationwide recall of a stuffed animal or toy, it cannot order a meatpacking company to remove contaminated, potentially lethal ground beef from fast food kitchens and supermarket shelves (Schlosser, 153). We can see that these are people who choose such food for them although they are not always aware of this fact. Schlosser analyzes the current situation not making an accent on the solution of the problem. However, he states that these are people themselves who should stop buying this food because they are not forced to do it.

Another example of the book that shows us nature, people and animals and their correlation in the world is The Norton Book of Nature Writing. In this book there are 125 selections of 94 writers of the last two centuries. One of such selections is Ursula K. Le Guin in her work A Warm Mountain suggests to look at mountains for absolutely another angle. This author presents nature from a new perspective. She describes mountains in such details that these mountains start remaining us human beings. She describes volcano as a personality: She [the volcano] put on hats of cloud and took them off again, and tried a different effort. (The Nordon Book of Writing, 338). Ursula tries to show that nature, as well as people, has emotions and feelings and the style of description is so realistic that you start believing it. Using such literal device the author attracts our attention to the ecological problem but in a new, creative way. People should realize that destroying nature they destroy something similar to them.

Another selection from this collection of stories is the so-called The Travels of William Bartram. William Bartram in this work presents his conception of the modern world and the place of nature in it on the background of his scientific observations and personal experience.

He was a well-known naturalist who presented the environmental situation of such states as Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, etc. This book is of great importance because it does not only appeal to modern readers but presents actual information from the real witness of the situation.

To sum up, all the three books – Reinventing Garden by Carolyn Merchant, Fast Food Nation by Schlosser and The Norton Book of Nature writing edited by Robert Finch and John Elder deal with the problems of man’s relations with nature and animals. All the authors of the books examine this problem from different perspectives but the conclusion is practically the same: people should change their attitude to animals and nature, otherwise the consequences of such behavior will be dreadful. Nowadays people do not live in harmony with nature, they do not follow natural laws and the first signal of it are numerous natural disasters which take lives of thousands of people. It is high time people stopped leading a consuming way of life. It is necessary to live in peace with nature.

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