Abbey, and His Fear of Progress


Abbey, and His Fear of Progress

The day that the gray jeep with the U.S. Government decal and "Bureau of Public Roads" on it, Edward Abbey knew that progress had arrived. He had foreseen it, watching other parks like his, fall in the face of progress. He knew that hordes of people and their "machines" would come (Abbey 50-51). Most people see progress as a good thing. Abbey proclaims. "I would rather take my chances in a thermonuclear war than live in such a world (Abbey 60)."
"Prog-ress n. forward motion or advance to a higher goal; an advance; steady improvement (Webster’s)." Is progress really all of that? How can you improve on mother nature? Progress actually detracts from the parks natural beauty. Cars, litter, and vandalism can all be attributed to "progress." In this frame of thinking "progress" kind of contradicts it’s self.
The most detrimental aspect of progress is the automobile. "’Parks are for people’ is the public-relations slogan, which decoded means that the parks are for people-in -automobiles." People come streaming in, driving their cars. They are in a hurry because they are trying to see as many parks as possible in their short vacation time. They have to deal with things such as: car troubles, traffic, hotel rooms, other visitors pushing them onward, their bored children, and the long trip home in a flood of cars. Many of them take tons of pictures, possibly so that they can actually enjoy the park without all of the hassles (Abbey 58). Without leaving their cars they will never actually experience the beauty and wonderment of the parks. They will only find the stress and chaos that they sought to leave at home (Abbey 59).
There is a minority though, that prefers to be able to get away from the modern world completely, and travel throughout the parks on foot, bicycle, or horse. With these vehicles they can travel on quiet trails that are impassable by automobiles. These trails will lead them to places where progress has yet to hit. They can sleep in the open, breath the fresh air, and hear nothing but mother nature herself. They will never get pushed out of the way buy the rush of other tourists, cramming to catch a glimpse of the sights (Abbey 59). This is what I call anti-progress.
Anti-progress is what progress seeks desperately to destroy. The Developers (progress seekers) want the entire park to be accessible to both man and his machines(Abbey 55). This means the those nice quiet trails that that hikers, bikers, and horse riders so enjoy have to be destroyed by paving them with black asphalt. And along with the road comes the steady stream on noisy, smelly, cars. Abbey’s park, Arches National Monument, was accessible via "traversing a long, dusty, dirt road" when he wrote about it. It is now a paved road that carries thousands a year (Little 34). This must be stopped for the sake of all people involved or the park setting will be the same as the urban environment.
Anti-progress still thrives in some parks. Does that mean that some people will not got here just because their car won’t fit? Probably, but does it mean that no one but those who are young, athletic and fit for the trails go there? No, people of all ages, and athletic ability enjoy these parks, these are people who refuse "to live always like sardines in a can." Thousands and thousands of people raft down the rivers, ride into the Grand Canyon on mules, and hike and climb various mountain ranges (Abbey 55-56). More people should follow their lead and leave their cars behind to experience the outdoors.
Abbey has thought up a good, reasonable solution that would bring the outdoors back to the outdoors. His plan is simple, it has three steps. Although his plan may seem a bit drastic, a plan like this is needed. The first step of his plan is to keep all motorized vehicles out of the park. The second, stop building roads. The third and final step is to set the park rangers to work.
For the first step, a giant parking lot would be constructed about ten miles away from