The Earth as Modified by Human Action
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The Earth as Modified by Human Action

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Project Gutenberg's The Earth as Modified by Human Action, by George P. MarshCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country beforedownloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom ofthis file. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. Youcan also find out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: The Earth as Modified by Human ActionAuthor: George P. MarshRelease Date: July, 2004 [EBook #6019] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on October 18, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EARTH AS MODIFIED BY HUMAN ACTION ***Produced by Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.THE EARTH AS MODIFIED BY HUMAN ACTION.A NEW EDITION OF MAN AND NATURE.BYGEORGE P. MARSH."Not all the winds, and storms, and ...

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**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****
Title: The Earth as Modified by Human Action
Author: George P. Marsh
Release Date: July, 2004 [EBook #6019] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on October 18, 2002] Edition: 10 Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK EARTH AS MODIFIED BY HUMAN ACTION ***
Produced by Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
THE EARTH AS MODIFIED BY HUMAN ACTION.
A NEW EDITION OFMAN AND NATURE.
BY
GEORGEP. MARSH.
"Not all the winds, and storms, and earthquakes, and seas, and seasons of the world, have done so much to revolutionize the earth as MAN, the power of an endless life, has done since the day he came forth upon it, and received dominion over it."—H. Bushnell, Sermon on the Power of an Endless Life. 1874.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The object of the present volume is: to indicate the character and, approximately, the extent of the changes produced by human action in the physical conditions of the globe we inhabit; to point out the dangers of imprudence and the necessity of caution in all operations which, on a large scale, interfere with the spontaneous arrangements of the organic or the inorganic world; to suggest the possibility and the importance of the restoration of disturbed harmonies and the material improvement of waste and exhausted regions; and, incidentally, to illustrate the doctrine that man is, in both kind and degree, a power of a higher order than any of the other forms of animated life, which, like him, are nourished at the table of bounteous nature.
In the rudest stages of life, man depends upon spontaneous animal and vegetable growth for food and clothing, and his consumption of such products consequently diminishes the numerical abundance of the species which serve his
uses. At more advanced periods, he protects and propagates certain esculent vegetables and certain fowls and quadrupeds, and, at the same time, wars upon rival organisms which prey upon these objects of his care or obstruct the increase of their numbers. Hence the action of man upon the organic world tends to derange its original balances, and while it reduces the numbers of some species, or even extirpates them altogether, it multiplies other forms of animal and vegetable life.
The extension of agricultural and pastoral industry involves an enlargement of the sphere of man's domain, by encroachment upon the forests which once covered the greater part of the earth's surface otherwise adapted to his occupation. The felling of the woods has been attended with momentous consequences to the drainage of the soil, to the external configuration of its surface, and probably, also, to local climate; and the importance of human life as a transforming power is, perhaps, more clearly demonstrable in the influence man has thus exerted upon superficial geography than in any other result of his material effort.
Lands won from the woods must be both drained and irrigated; river-banks and maritime coasts must be secured by means of artificial bulwarks against inundation by inland and by ocean floods; and the needs of commerce require the improvement of natural and the construction of artificial channels of navigation. Thus man is compelled to extend over the unstable waters the empire he had already founded upon the solid land.
The upheaval of the bed of seas and the movements of water and of wind expose vast deposits of sand, which occupy space required for the convenience of man, and often, by the drifting of their particles, overwhelm the fields of human industry with invasions as disastrous as the incursions of the ocean. On the other hand, on many coasts, sand-hills both protect the shores from erosion by the waves and currents, and shelter valuable grounds from blasting sea-winds. Man, therefore, must sometimes resist, sometimes promote, the formation and growth of dunes, and subject the barren and flying sands to the same obedience to his will to which he has reduced other forms of terrestrial surface.
Besides these old and comparatively familiar methods of material improvement, modern ambition aspires to yet grander achievements in the conquest of physical nature, and projects are meditated which quite eclipse the boldest enterprises hitherto undertaken for the modification of geographical surface.
The natural character of the various fields where human industry has effected revolutions so important, and where the multiplying population and the impoverished resources of the globe demand new triumphs of mind over matter, suggests a corresponding division of the general subject, and I have conformed the distribution of the several topics to the chronological succession in which man must be supposed to have extended his sway over the different provinces of his material kingdom. I have, then, in the introductory chapter, stated, in a comprehensive way, the general effects and the prospective consequences of human action upon the earth's surface and the life which peoples it. This chapter is followed by four others in which I have traced the history of man's industry as exerted upon Animal and Vegetable Life, upon the Woods, upon the Waters, and upon the Sands; and to these I have added a concluding chapter upon Man.
It is perhaps superfluous to add, what indeed sufficiently appears upon every page of the volume, that I address myself not to professed physicists, but to the general intelligence of observing and thinking men; and that my purpose is rather to make practical suggestions than to indulge in theoretical speculations more properly suited to a different class from that for which I write.
GEORGEP. MARSH.
December 1, 1868.
PREFACE TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
In preparing for the press an Italian translation of this work, published at Florence in 1870, I made numerous corrections in the statement of both facts and opinions; I incorporated into the text and introduced in notes a large amount of new data and other illustrative matter; I attempted to improve the method by differently arranging many of the minor subdivisions of the chapters; and I suppressed a few passages which teemed to me superfluous. In the present edition, which is based on the Italian translation, I have made many further corrections and changes of arrangement of the original matter; I have rewritten a considerable portion of the work, and have made, in the text and in notes, numerous and important additions, founded partly on observations of my own, partly on those of other students of Physical Geography, and though my general conclusions remain substantially the same as those I first announced, yet I think I may claim to have given greater completeness and a more consequent and logical form to the whole argument
Since the publication of the original edition, Mr. Elisee Reclus, in the second volume of his admirable work, La Terre (Paris, 1868), lately made accessible to English-reading students, has treated, in a general way, the subject I have undertaken to discuss. He has, however, occupied himself with the conservative and restorative, rather than with the destructive, effects of human industry, and he has drawn an attractive and encouraging picture of the ameliorating influences of the action of man, and of the compensations by which he, consciously or unconsciously, makes amends for the deterioration which he has produced in the medium he inhabits. The labors of Mr. Reclus, therefore, though aiming at a much higher and wider scope than I have had in view, are, in this particular point, a complement to my own. I earnestly recommend the work of this able writer to the attention of my readers.
George P. Marsh
Rome, May 1, 1878.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I.
INTRODUCTORY
Natural Advantages of the Territory of the Roman Empire—Physical Decay of that Territory—Causes of the Decay— Reaction of Man on Nature—Observation of Nature—Uncertainty of Our Historical Knowledge of Ancient Climates— Uncertainty of Modern Meteorology—Stability of Nature—Formation of Bogs—Natural Conditions Favorable to Geographical Change—Destructiveness of Man—Human and Brute Action Compared—Limits of Human Power— Importance of Physical Conservation and Restoration—Uncertainty as to Effects of Human Action
CHAPTER II.
TRANSFER, MODIFICATION, AND EXTIRPATION OFVEGETABLEAND OFANIMAL SPECIES.
Modern Geography takes Account of Organic Life—Geographical Importance of Plants—Origin of Domestic Vegetables—Transfer of Vegetable
Life—Objects of Modern Commerce—Foreign Plants, how Introduced—Vegetable Power of Accommodation—Agricultural Products of the United States—Useful American Plants Grown in Europe—Extirpation of Vegetables—Animal Life as a Geological and Geographical Agency—Origin and Transfer of Domestic Quadrupeds—Extirpation of Wild Quadrupeds—Large Marine Animals Relatively Unimportant in Geography—Introduction and Breeding of Fish—Destruction of Fish—Geographical Importance of Birds—Introduction of Birds—Destruction of Birds—Utility and Destruction of Reptiles—Utility of Insects and Worms—Injury to the Forest by Insects—Introduction of Insects—Destruction of Insects—Minute Organisms
CHAPTER III.
THEWOODS.
The Habitable Earth Originally Wooded—General Meteorological Influence of the Forest—Electrical Action of Trees—Chemical Influence of Woods—Trees as Protection against Malaria—Trees as Shelter to Ground to the Leeward—Influence of the Forest as Inorganic on Temperature—Thermometrical Action of Trees as Organic—Total Influence of the Forest on Temperature—Influence of Forests as Inorganic on Humidity of Air and Earth—Influence as Organic—Balance of Conflicting Influences—Influence of Woods on Precipitation—Total Climatic Action of the Forest—Influence of the Forest on Humidity of Soil—The Forest in Winter—Summer Rain, Importance of—Influence of the Forest on the Flow of Springs—Influence of the Forest on Inundations and Torrents—Destructive Action of Torrents—Floods of the Ardeche—Excavation by Torrents—Extinction of Torrents—Crushing Force of Torrents—Transporting Power of Water—The Po and its Deposits—Mountain Slides—Forest as Protection against Avalanches—Minor Uses of the Forest—Small Forest Plants and Vitality of Seeds—Locusts do not Breed in Forests—General Functions of Forest—General Consequences of Destruction of—Due Proportion of Woodland—Proportion of Woodland in European Countries—Forests of Great Britain—Forests of France—Forests of Italy—Forests of Germany—Forests of United States—American Forest Trees—European and American Forest Trees Compared—The Forest does not furnish Food for Man—First Removal of the Forest—Principal Causes of Destruction of Forest—Destruction and Protection of Forests by Governments—Royal Forests and Game-laws—Effects of the French Revolution—Increased Demand for Lumber—Effects of Burning Forest—Floating of Timber—Restoration of the Forest—Economy of the Forest—Forest Legislation—Plantation of Forests In America—Financial Results of Forest Plantations—Instability of American Life
CHAPTER IV.
THEWATERS.
Land Artificially Won from the Waters—Great Works of Material Improvement—Draining of Lincolnshire Fens—Incursions of the Sea in the Netherlands—Origin of Sea-dikes—Gain and Loss of Land in the Netherlands—Marine Deposits on the Coast of Netherlands—Draining of Lake of Haarlem—Draining of the Zuiderzee—Geographical Effects of—Improvements in the Netherlands—Ancient Hydraulic Works—Draining of Lake Celano by Prince Torlonia—Incidental Consequences of Draining Lakes—Draining of Marshes—Agricultural Draining—Meteorological Effects of Draining—Geographical Effects of Draining—Geographical Effects of Aqueducts and Canals—Antiquity of Irrigation—Irrigation in Palestine, India, and Egypt—Irrigation in Europe—Meteorological Effects of Irrigation—Water withdrawn from Rivers for Irrigation—Injurious Effects of Rice-culture—Salts Deposited by Water of Irrigation—Subterranean Waters—Artesian Wells—Artificial Springs—Economizing Precipitation—Inundations in France—Basins of Reception—Diversion of Rivers—Glacier Lakes—River Embankments—Other Remedies against Inundations—Dikes of the Nile—Deposits of Tuscan Rivers—Improvements in Tuscan Maremma—Improvements in Val di Chiana—Coast of the Netherlands
CHAPTER V.
THESANDS.