The Damnation Of A Canyon by Edward Abbey

The Damnation Of A Canyon by Edward Abbey

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Today, having power is what everybody in this country relies on day to day and couldn't function without it. Every year more and more dams are being built and more man made reservoirs are being created to provide this electricity needed. These dams are very important in my eyes but Edward Abbey carries a different opinion in his writing "The Damnation of a Canyon."
Edward Abbey's heart lies in the once beautiful Glen Canyon. He describes all of his wonderful childhood stories of him floating down the river and how all it took was a paddleboat and little money. He tells of the great beauty of all the animals, insects, forestry, and ancient scenery the canyon once had. This is why Abbey feels reservoirs are doing terrible things for not only Glen Canyon but every river. When you think about it, a natural river untainted by the ways of machinery and humans is virtually non existent today. Any river large enough to have a dam and produce a substantial amount of electricity probably already has many of them doing so. Abbey feels they are ruining the environment and wildlife is being sacrificed. The risen waters of the reservoir drown all of the life that once lived. All of the beautiful scenery and historic sights are replaced by water marked rocks, muddy banks, and very small amounts of forestry and greenery. He believes the whole river is completely disrupted with every reservoir and dam. He highlights the fact that exploring the river now requires a tour guide boat or enough money to buy your own. Overall, Abbey does give some good reasons behind his opinion. However, I have a different belief on the matter. Although Edward Abbey uses strong personal experiences to persuade the reader to argue that the man made reservoirs are destroying the beautiful canyon and the environment, I think he overlooks the other possible opinions and the benefits of having them.
Beyond all of Abbey's personal feelings and emotional memories, let us not forget about what these dams and reservoirs are providing us with-power. Electricity is extremely important to everyone. It is the reason for seemingly everything people consider vital to their lives; cars, computers, TV, running water through the faucet, everything. It is not something we can just forget about because of an author's emotional attachment to a certain strip of land sacrificed to make thousands of other people happy sitting safe in their home with electricity.

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Sure, the reservoir did drown some historic scenery and also some greenery. However, greenery can grow back and anyone who wanted to view the historic sights that bad are more then welcome to rent scuba gear to see it. I find it hard to believe how one can complain about some land being ruined when dams are the biggest provider of electricity in the world today, and keep everything for him running smoothly. Would he rather have no dams and have to live in the ancient past with candles and fireplaces? I doubt he would. What this dam and reservoir provided to him was incredibly overlooked by Abbey.
Abbey also fails to understand how other people might have been happy with the change in the river and not devastated like him. The dam creates a reservoir or lake which can provide not the same fun as before but different fun. The calm waters allows for boating sports like tubing or wake boarding. With this, people can now bring the family up to enjoy some good tubing and then a tour of the river below the dam. Abbey continuously forgets to let go his own personal experiences and doesn't understand that other people may have different positive opinions on the change in the river. If Abbey would just calm down and consider all of the new possible fun, he probably wouldn't be so disappointed. Abbey definitely overlooks other people's opinions on the reservoirs.
Abbey also doesn't realize what the effects would be if he got his wish and the dams and reservoirs were removed. They would be absolutely devastating. The mess alone would require a huge amount of man power and money to clean. There would be massive flooding in the area below the dam. The drained reservoir would be 100 times uglier than it is now. It would be a huge hole of mud and old garbage left behind by motorboat owners. All of the wildlife that survived the first environment change would be forced to survive another, and they might not be as lucky this time. Then what would this country do to salvage the energy losses? Endless fields of solar energy plants and towers would cost this country billions upon billions of dollars and it still would be even close to efficient enough. Abbey doesn't understand that getting rid of dams would create way larger and more catastrophic problems than a couple water marks and drowned scenery. Abbey didn't consider the consequences of what he proposed at all.
In the end, Abbey does make some solid points behind his belief of the reservoirs damaging environments. But I think abbey failed to keep his personal feelings and emotional history with the canyon out of the way and this prevented him from taking a look at the big picture. Abbey just needs to understand that we live in a constantly modernizing country that requires more and more power every day, and until a different method is discovered, dams and reservoirs are the only solution.
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