Humans’ ecological footprint has been increasing while the Earth has remained the same size. Especially in the last three centuries, the impact of human populations on surrounding landscapes and resources has grown enormously. In the United States, the footprint’s swelling can be explained in large part by the change from subsistence to profit-minded production. The colonists who brought European ideas and techniques to America instigated this shift, which began in the late seventeenth century and has arguably continued till the present. The abundance of resources in early America, and the fact that they could be so easily exploited, facilitated this change towards a profiteering mindset. It is with this observation in mind that I can suggest that the fertile nature of early America contained the seeds of our profit-oriented attitude of today, leading to an ever-growing ecological footprint.
Men such as Gifford Pinchot and John Muir realized the dangers of the attitude towards excess and, in order to avoid exploitation of American forests and mountains, attempted to Continue reading