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Essay Contest Named for Henry David Thoreau Can Inspire Americans to Join the Global Warming Fight

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:21am

Early American Literature Continues to Inspire Environmentalists Everywhere

My journey from carefree consumer to conservationist has its roots in Maine. However, those roots did not lead to the flowering tree hugger I am today until I relocated to Florida, Greater Orlando to be specific. The lifestyle contrast with respect to the conservation of our natural resources between Maine and Florida was so stark in the year 1990 (and remains with us in 2008) that my attention was drawn to it nearly every day.

In addition to converting me to a tree hugger, the aforementioned journey has placed me in a small group of people who have lived for extended periods in the state which the great auteur Henry David Thoreau featured in his seminal work The Maine Woodsand in the state which led the widow of world-famous naturalist John James Audubon to collaborate in the formation of a conservation society named for her late husband. That’s right, the Audubon Society was born just a few short miles from the Edgewood section of Orlando where I reside.

In the case of Thoreau and Audubon, the conscience of a nation was changed through literature, brilliantly written and very well renowned, but literature nonetheless.

The Last Shall Be First

Given that the United States is the world’s leading polluter in terms of greenhouse gas emissions which cause global warming, it is eminently fitting that another American organization should leverage its effectiveness to bring about modern change regarding the climate crisis. In my August 25 post here on Keyboard Culture, I told you about the fabulous poetry contest being conducted by Defenders of Wildlife. If you have not examined the website associated with that marvelous call to literature, I exhort you to do so immediately.

Now, the Union of Concerned Scientists is running a literary contest of its own and I am overjoyed because it is targeted directly at global warming. Entitled Thoreau's Legacy: American Stories about Global Warming, the UCS contest draws on the eloquent words of Thoreau and Audubon (as well as many of their contemporaries who were inspired by them) to capture in prose the call to action which scientists such as Dr. James Hansen have been preaching for decades.

Even if you haven’t participated in an essay contest before, you owe it to yourself to visit today and give it a try. Nothing short of the entire planet will benefit from your creativity and effort.

I leave you with the official UCS introduction for the contest:

The American outdoors has been central to some of this country’s greatest books, from Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods to Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi. Writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Muir, Rachel Carson, Peter Matthiessen, and E.O. Wilson have inspired us to make positive changes in our lives with their wisdom and words about our lands, geographical riches, and wildlife.

Fomenting the Triple Bottom Line

Corbett Kroehler


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