August 12, 2022 12:15 pm— 1:30 pm
"Engaging hybrid - part lyrical travelogue, part investigative journalism and part jeremiad, all shot through with droll humor." --The Atlanta Journal Constitution
In 1867, John Muir set out on foot to explore the botanical wonders of the South, keeping a detailed journal of his adventures as he traipsed from Kentucky southward to Florida. One hundred and fifty years later, on a similar whim, veteran Atlanta reporter Dan Chapman, distressed by sprawl-driven environmental ills in a region he loves, recreated Muir's journey to see for himself how nature has fared since Muir's time. Channeling Muir, he uses humor, keen observation, and a deep love of place to celebrate the South's natural riches. But he laments that a treasured way of life for generations of Southerners is endangered as long-simmering struggles intensify over misused and dwindling resources. Chapman seeks to discover how Southerners might balance surging population growth with protecting the natural beauty Muir found so special.
Each chapter touches upon a local ecological problem--at-risk species in Mammoth Cave, coal ash in Kingston, Tennessee, climate change in the Nantahala National Forest, water wars in Georgia, aquifer depletion in Florida--that resonates across the South. Chapman delves into the region's natural history, moving between John Muir's vivid descriptions of a lush botanical paradise and the myriad environmental problems facing the South today. Along the way he talks to locals with deep ties to the land--scientists, hunters, politicians, and even a Muir impersonator--who describe the changes they've witnessed and what it will take to accommodate a fast-growing population without destroying the natural beauty and a cherished connection to nature.
A Road Running Southward is part travelogue, part environmental cri de coeur, and paints a picture of a South under siege. It is a passionate appeal, a call to action to save one of the loveliest and most biodiverse regions of the world by understanding what we have to lose if we do nothing.