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Home / Articles / · Archive / News & Columns /  5 Spot | Donald Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir
News & Columns

5 Spot | Donald Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

By Jerre Wroble
Posted // January 7,2009 -
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On Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m., Donald Worster’s appearance at Sam Weller’s Bookstore (254 S. Main, 328-2586, SamWellers.com) sheds light on the life and times of John Muir in A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir. n

Why should Utahns care about Scottish-born (in 1838) John Muir?
nJohn Muir was no stranger to Utah. He swam in the Great Salt Lake, climbed Mount Nebo and wrote about Utah’s people and land in several essays as he did about other parts of the American West, leaving a unique portrait of this place for future generations.

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Briefly describe his legacy.
nHis most visible legacy are the national parks and forests that he cared about and helped Americans to see in their natural splendor. He was also the founding president of the Sierra Club, which may be the world’s most famous and effective environmental organization.

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Why a new book about Muir?
nMine is the first truly full-scale biography of Muir, using all the available letters, journals, and miscellaneous jottings he left behind, the first such biography to be written since the 1940s. Several reviewers have called it the most comprehensive account of his life we have.

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What would Muir think of modern environmentalism?
nWhich part of it? The movement to protect nature from exploitation, to protect endangered species or wilderness areas or scenic beauty, he would have applauded. He would probably have supported the “wise use” of our natural resources, for he was a very thrifty man who hated waste and extravagance. But he would not have accepted the notion, common in some circles, that environmentalism ought to be redefined wholly as “environmental justice” or “sustainability.” He was a liberal and a democratic in his social outlook, but he would not agree with many urban-centered environmentalists that protecting human health or wealth should be the only moral consideration.

 
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