William Cronon Quotes
“Killing was a relatively simple matter--a blow to the head, a knife to the throat--complicated only by how much one cared about the pain or terrors animals felt in dying.... The animal also died a second death. Severed from the form in which it had lived, severed from the act that had killed it, it vanished from human memory as one of nature's creatures.”
“Von Thünen’s abstract principles had strikingly concrete geographical consequences. A series of concentric agricultural zones would form around the town, each of which would support radically different farming activities. Nearest the town would be a zone producing crops so heavy, bulky, or perishable that no farmer living farther away could afford to ship them to market. Orchards, vegetable gardens, and dairies would dominate this first zone and raise the price of land—its “rent”—so high that less valuable crops would not be profitable there. Farther out, landowners in the second zone would devote themselves to intensive forestry, supplying the town with lumber and fuel. Beyond the forest, farmers would practice ever more extensive forms of agriculture, raising grain crops on lands where rents fell—along with labor and capital investment—the farther out from town one went. This was the zone of wheat farming. Finally, distance from the city would raise transport costs so high that no grain crop could pay for its movement to market. Beyond that point, landowners would use their property for raising cattle and other livestock, thereby creating a zone of even more extensive land use, with still lower inputs of labor and capital. Land rents would steadily fall as one moved out from the urban market until they theoretically reached zero, where no one would buy land for any price, because nothing it might produce could pay the prohibitive cost of getting to market.”
“Repeatedly in the nineteenth century, western cities came into being when eastern capital created remote colonies in landscapes that as yet contained relatively few people. Movements of capital helped explain why large cities developed so much more quickly in the West than Turner’s evolutionary frontier stages suggest.”
“By what peculiar twist of perception, I wondered, had I managed to see the plowed fields and second-growth forests of southern Wisconsin—a landscape of former prairies now long vanished—as somehow more “natural” than the streets, buildings, and parks of Chicago? All represented drastic human alterations of earlier landscapes.”
“The urban-rural, human-natural dichotomy blinds us to the deeper unity beneath our own divided perceptions. If we concentrate our attention solely upon the city, seeing in it the ultimate symbol of “man’s” conquest of “nature”, we miss the extent to which the city’s inhabitants continue to rely as much on the nonhuman world as they do on each other … we also wall ourselves off from the broader ecosystems which contain our urban homes. Deep ecology to the contrary, we cannot solve this dilemma by seeking permanent escape from the city in a “wild” nature untouched by human hands, for such an escape requires us to build the same artificial mental wall between nature and un-nature. We fail to see that our own flight from “the city” creates “the wild” as its symbolic opposite and pulls that seemingly most nature of places into our own cultural orbit. We alter it with our presence, and even with the ways we think about it. Just as our own lives continue to be embedded in a web of ‘natural’ relationships, nothing in nature remains untouched by the web of ‘human’ relationships that constitute our common history.”
“The trouble with wilderness is that it quietly expresses and reproduces the very values its devotees seek to reject. The flight from history that is very nearly the core of wilderness represents the false hope of an escape from responsibility, the illusion that we can somehow wipe clean the slate of our past.”
- Date of birth: September 11, 1954
- Born: in New Haven, Connecticut, The United States.
- Description: William "Bill" Cronon is a noted environmental historian, and the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was president of the American Historical Association (AHA) in 2012.