The Sierra Club's National Wilderness Essay Contest
It has been nearly 25 years since Bill McKibben declared “the end of nature.” What he really meant was the end of wilderness — the idea of wilderness. In the era of climate change, he claimed, we can no longer conceive of a natural world that is free of human influence — a pristine wilderness where our spirits can awaken to authentic nature.
Generations Y, Z and beyond will never know that pristine wilderness; they will know only what humans have created. And the outlook has only gotten worse: in 2005, Richard Louv warned us that “nature deficit disorder” was on the rise. Today’s children, he worried, spend far more time in front of screens than they spend in the woods, and end up radically disconnected from the natural world. They may care about biodiversity, sustainability, and environmental justice—but do they care about wilderness?
So we pose the question: What does wilderness mean to the millennial generation? Does the idea of wilderness have any relevance for twenty-first century environmentalists? Is there still a case to be made for wilderness? If so, how can we make that case?
We invite essays on the idea of wilderness from writers under 30 years old. Visit the contest website to find more instructions and the entry form.