Marsh Apocalypse

Marsh has a strong apocalyptic trope. Where this presentation of the trope varies from the normal idea of apocalypse, is that Marsh seems to think if the world is going to end, it wont be a natural disaster, but at the hands of men. His collection of short essays in Selections from Man and Nature all chronicle mans mistreatment of nature. In Destructiveness of Man Marsh says, “ But man is everywhere a disturbing agent. Wherever he plants his foot, the harmonies of nature are turned to discords.” (34), suggesting that man cant live on this planet without destroying everything he touches.  He argues that, “all animal life feeds upon, and, of course, destroys other life,- but this destruction is balances by compensations.” (34), he goes on to say that man destroys without repaying what he has taken and that he kills way more than he can consume. Marsh shares the beliefs of Cooper in the Pioneers with the character Natty Bumppo. Marsh goes on to document and list all the destruction that man has done to the earth, all of which he implies will lead to an apocalypse, he uses examples like railroads, dams and depletion of reservoirs. His last essay, however, details what man can do to try and fix what he has done. Marsh says, “ how far man can permanently modify and ameliorate those physical conditions of terrestrial surface and climate on which his material welfare depends; how far he can compensate, arrest, or retard the deterioration which many of his agricultural and industrial processes tend to produce” (48).  He says they way to avoid the apocalypse and fix his wrongs he should make new bee hives, replant trees, repair depleted water supplies and other such works. Marsh values nature for its intrinsic value and for its uses to humans, he just wants to make sure we don’t use it all up.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by christys21 on November 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Marsh certainly doe bash the reader with his point in that man will ultimately be responsible for the world ending due to their uncaring and reckless usage of nature. When Marsh discusses what man can do to TRY to right his wrongs,he also mentions that even if man were to plant back and fix the land to it’s original state, it would take years upond years.
    Marsh specifically uses the example of a seed. A man can plant a seed, and at the end of his life, that seed is only a small tree; no where near as big as the one that was taken away from nature.
    While it is arguable what pieces of nature man takes and what he makes good use out of, the wasy Marsh makes it seem is that man’s taking away from nature only leads in one direction, to an end. There is no wasy of replenishing or fixing what has been done.

  2. I agree with Marsh in believing that the end of the world will be caused from man more than natural disaster. Im glad he communicates an urgency for people to at least attempt to replace what they take by replanting trees, or building a beehive, or repair depleted water supplies. However, it is an interesting dilemma because I do not think it is possible to ever return a landscape/environment to it’s original state. Although giving back resources we have taken to nature is a positive action, it is also possible to produce unforeseen outcomes. What if we replanted beehives and it upset the ecosystem and the bees then become an invasive species. Because we did not create this earth, we have no true idea what the perfect balance is within nature.

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