Is our infatuation with the environment destroying it?

yellowstone 1

Photo courtesy

In recent decades, it has becoming overwhelmingly clear that humans have degraded the once pristine environment that we live in today. Because more people have become aware of this negative trend, movements in society have ushered in an era of environmental concern, stressing concepts of preservation, smarter consumption methods, and respect for the planet. It has become trendy to support conservation efforts, which sounds like a victory for the environment as a whole. However, many seem to be too gung-ho about the beauty of the great outdoors and find themselves abandoning city life and perusing a life off the grid. To these brave adventurers, this may seem to be a great idea. By relocating to the countryside, their ecological footprint would greatly reduce along with their contribution to carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this logic may not hold up. In areas such as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where private and public lands intersect, there has been a surge in the human population. This human development occurring so closely to Yellowstone National Park intrudes on species’ habits and migration patterns, putting them at risk of facing a decline despite their protected status. Although the settlers of this area have pure intentions, they may be disrupting a thriving ecosystem by bringing human development closer and closer to the natural haven known as Yellowstone National Park.


Photo Courtesy

The author, Todd Wilkinson, sets the scene in Bozeman, Montana, an area located outside of Yellowstone National Park, by describing the imagery and history of the land, which creates a sense of attachment for readers. This immediate appeal to emotion hooks the audience and causes them to be more inclined to support the author’s claims. Additionally, the author incorporates pathos in the title of the article, “Are We Loving Yellowstone to Death?”. This question explores society’s motivations and provides a new perspective on how human activities are impacting the environment. In the past, we have discussed the ways in which our harmful activities hurt ecosystems. In this case, activities that appear to be beneficial are also rattling the well-being of the environment. By caring for the environment too much, we are still damaging it. The author also includes photos of residents that live in the area and caption the challenges they face living so close to an ecological utopia. This provides the audience with another perspective on the situation. Wilkinson uses the photos to make the residents relatable, capturing the dilemma living in this ecosystem at the cost of the species that called it home first. However, the author does not allow the animals to go unheard. He includes a photo of a tranquilized bear that must be relocated after wreaking havoc on now privately owned land, land that animals were once free to roam. Wilkinson also shares of interactions between man and the wild, incorporating a video that tells the story of Nic Patrick, a man who survived an attack by a grizzly bear. Despite his close call to death, Patrick claims that there is no bad blood between him and the bear and he understands that residing in this area puts him at risk of bear encounters. This situation reflects the idea that human intrusion on natural environments is an attack on the area’s species. By emphasizing the health and well-being of both humans and the potential loss of animals, the audience is able to connect with the author’s thoughts and claims.


This article appeared in National Geographic, a source that concerns itself with worldly environmental issues. The author, Todd Wilkinson, is a professional journalist that specializes in the coverage of environmental problems and happenings. He is from the American West, which he writes many of his stories about. The author’s credibility is emphasized through his professional credentials and personal experience. For instance, this article explores the issues occurring in Yellowstone National Park, an area close to where Wilkinson once resided. His ability to incorporate personal experience allow the audience to find his statements more believable, which increases the likelihood that readers will agree with the author. In addition, the article relies on conservation experts such as Dennis Glick and Andy Hansen. Glick is the founder of Future West, a conservation group. Hansen is a conservation biologist and professor at Montana State University. Because both of these sources have backgrounds in conservation and are located in the region in which the article refers to, their credibility is heightened. As a reader, I thought that the article should have used more sources, such as a source that refutes Wilkinson’s argument. This would give another perspective to readers, helping them to form more informed opinions.


In order to back up his claims, Wilkinson relied on research and facts about the land surrounding Yellowstone National Park. For example, when exploring the topic of human effects on the land, the author reported that the number of parcels of land with one house per 40 acres increased 328 percent from 1970 to 2010. This alarming percentage opens readers’ eyes and causes them to see the extent of the issue presented. Additionally, the author claims that by 2020, between 5 and 40 percent of habitats within Yellowstone National Park will be converted from farmland to urban development. By providing a window into the future, Wilkinson creates a call to action for readers.


When I read the title of the article, my first thought was that it didn’t make sense. How could our love for the environment harm it? As a human population, it seems as though we can’t win. Our wasteful habits destroy ecosystems, but at the same time, our desire to care for the environment hurts it as well. This double-edged sword presents an issue for our society. We must find a middle ground for our interactions with the environment in order to protect and preserve it.

Link to article

Additional Sources


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s