As a literary genre, nature writing provides readers with both inspirational stories and facts about the environment that surrounds the cities we live in. By reading about this topic throughout its literary lifespan, a picture is painted about what the earth looked like during different eras and how people interacted with it. This history gives us insight into why there are so many issues surfacing now concerning climate change, deforestation, acidifying oceans, and citizens mistreating our National Parks. Nature writing gives readers an outlet for inspiration and a way to identify with the environment that may be imperative to the health of the planet in the future. By reading stories and interacting with the outdoors from a recreational stance, relationships might be made that could affect people’s outlook on the treatment of nature. The recent election outcome changes this relationship to one of utmost urgency and importance. Now, more than ever, people are worried about a fast decline in the health of the planet. Although nature writing itself isn’t talked about on social media much, quotes from pioneers in environmental nature writing such as John Muir are used in conjunction with articles concerning recent environmental issues. By this tactic, the genre of nature writing is not simply fuel for personal inspiration or exploration, but it is also an important outlet of information regarding environmental issues that may affect us for years.
When reading books from this genre you are not only getting a personal tale of some sort of adventure or quest, but you are also getting a historical telling of the natural world as it appears and is treated at the time the piece was written. Each book holds its own tone and understanding of nature as the author sees it. A voice is heard, a tale is told, but beyond that, we see that throughout many eras in literature humans have had a tumultuous relationship with the natural world around them. As the industrial revolution bloomed and people began living in cities and suburbs, the disconnect to nature became vast. Humans began to commodify the world they once lived in harmony with. Although humans throughout history have utilized nature to whatever purpose they saw fit, this began to grow with need due to human expansion. Our vocabulary began to shift as well. We learned words such as “assembly line,” skyscraper,” and eventually “computer,” “cellphone,” and even “lol.” At the same time we lost words such as “catkin,” and “crocus,” “fledgling,” and “frisson.” (Flood, 2015) This shift has pushed one set of words aside for another, implying that one set is more important or useful. While this may be true, a partial loss of language produces a loss of eloquence when speaking of a part of our world that still exists in a completely accessible way. Instead of encouraging people to know more about the world, people are forced into a sort of status quo life, never leaving the city.
Due to the rise in popularity happening within the nature writing genre, I am hopeful that a reconnection with nature is happening as well. Readers want to read about authors going on adventures into the unknown natural world, while authors seek these adventure out for some sort of purpose or meaning. I am hopeful that this rise will help bring some of the vocabulary back. I am hopeful that this popularity gain will spark interest in saving these natural spaces for future generations to enjoy. The more we write about nature, the more people will read about nature—but the more people read about nature, the more authors will be encouraged to write about it. The best thing for our own mental and physical health, and the health of the planet is for this cyclical relationship to continue, to broaden, and to continue its appeal to younger readers who may just want an adventurous rush, but end up with so much more.