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Man and Nature

George Perkins Marsh's Man and Nature was the first book to attack the American myth of the superabundance and the inexhaustibility of the earth. It was, as Lewis Mumford said, "the fountainhead of the conservation movement," and few books since have had such an influence on the way men view and use land. "It is worth reading after a hundred years," Mr. Lowenthal points out, "not only because it taught important lessons in its day, but also because it still teaches them so well...Historical insight and contemporary passion make Man and Nature an enduring classic."
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Table of Contents

Introduction by David Lowenthal A Note on the Text MAN AND NATURE Preface CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTORY Natural Advantages of the Territory of the Roman Empire Physical Decay of that Territory and of other parts of the Old World Causes of the Decay New School of Geographers Reaction of Man upon Nature Observation of Nature Comical and Geological Influences Geographical Influence of Man Uncertainty of our Meteorological Knowledge Mechanical Effects produced by Man on the surface of the Earth Importance and Possibility of Physical Restoration Stability of Nature Restoration of Disturbed Harmonies Destructiveness of Man Human and Brute Action Compared Physical Improvement Arrest of Physical Decay of New Countries Forms and Formations most liable to Physical Degradation Physical Decay of New Countries Corrupt Influence of Private Corporations, Note. CHAPTER II: TRANSFER, MODIFICATION, AND EXTIRPATION OF VEGETABLE AND OF ANIMAL SPECIES Modern Geography embraces Organic Life Transfer of Vegetable Life Foreign Plants grown in the United States American Plants grown in Europe Modes of Introduction of Foreign Plants Vegetables, how affected by transfer to Foreign Soils Extirpation of Vegetables Origin of Domestic Plants Organic Life as a Geological and Geographical Agency Number of Quadrupeds in the United States Origin and Transfer of Domestic Quadrupeds Extirpation of Quadrupeds Numbers of Birds in the United States Birds as Sowers and Consumers of Seeds, and as Destroyers of Insects Diminution and Extirpation of Birds Introduction of Birds Utility of Insects and Worms Introduction of Insects Destruction of Insects Reptiles Destruction of Fish Introduction and Breeding of Fish Extirpation of Aquatic Animals Minute Organisms CHAPTER III: THE WOODS The Habitable Earth originally Wooded The Forest does not furnish Food for Man First Removal of the Woods Effects of Fire on Forest Soil Effects of the Destruction of the Forest Electrical Influence of Trees Chemical Influence of the Forest Influence of the Forest, considered as Inorganic Matter, on Temperature: a, Absorbing and Emitting Surface; b, Trees as Conductors of Heat; c, Trees in Summer and in Winter; d, Dead Products of Trees; e, Trees as a Shelter to Grounds to the leeward of them; f, Trees as a Protection against Malaria The Forest, as Inorganic Matter, tends to mitigate extremes. Trees as Organisms: Specific Heat Total Influence of the Forest on Temperature Influence of Forests on the Humidity of the Air and the Earth: a, as Inorganic Matter; b, as Organic-Wood Mosses and Fungi-Flow of Sap-Absorption and Exhalation of Moisture by Trees Balance of Conflicting Influences Influence of the Forest on Temperature and Precipitation Influence of the Forest on the Humidity of the Soil Its Influence on the Flow of Springs The Forest in Winter General Consequences of the Destruction of the Forest Condition of the Forest, and its Literature in different Countries The Influence of the Forest on Inundations Destructive Action of Torrents Transporting Power of Rivers The Po and its Deposits Mountain Slides Protection against the Fall of Rocks and Avalanches by Trees Principal Causes of the Destruction of the Forest American Forest Trees Special Causes of the Destruction of European Woods Royal Forests and Game Laws Small Forest Plants, and Vitality of Seeds Utility of the Forest The Forests of Europe Forests of the United States and Canada The Economy of the Forest European and American Trees Compared Sylviculture Instability of American Life CHAPTER IV: THE WATERS Land artificially won from the Waters: a, Exclusion of the Sea by Diking; b, Draining of Lakes and Marshes; c, Geographical Influence of such Operations Lowering of Lakes Mountain Lakes Climatic Effects of Draining Lakes and Marshes Geographical and Climatic Effects of Aqueducts, Reservoirs, and Canals Surface and Underdraining, and their Climatic and Geographical Effects Irrigation and its Climatic and Geographical Effects Inundations and Torrents: a, River Embankments; b, Floods of the Ardeche; c, Crushing Force of Torrents; d, Inundations of 1856 in France; e, Remedies against Inundations--Consequences if the Nile had been confined by Lateral Dikes Deposits of the Tuscan Rivers Improvements in the Val di Chiana Improvements in the Tuscan Maremma Obstruction of River Mouths Subterranean Waters Artesian Wells Artificial Springs Economizing Precipitation CHAPTER V: THE SANDS Origin of Sand Sand now carried down to the Sea The Sands of Egypt and the adjacent Desert The Suez Canal The Sands of Egypt Coast Dunes and Sand Plains Sand Banks Dunes on Coast of America Dunes of Western Europe Formation of Dunes Character of Dune Sand Interior Structure of Dunes Form of Dunes Geological Importance of Dunes Inland Dunes Age, Character, and Permanence of Dunes Use of Dunes as Barrier against the Sea Encroachments of the Sea The Liimfjord Coasts of Schleswig-Holstein, Holland, and France Drifting of Dune Sands Dunes of Gascony Dunes of Denmark Dunes of Prussia Control of Dunes by Man Artificial Formation of Dunes Protection of Dunes Trees suitable for Dune Plantations Extent of Dunes in Europe Dune Vineyards of Cap Breton Removal of Dunes Inland Sand Plains The Landes of Gascony The Belgian Campine Sands and Steppes of Eastern Europe Advantages of Reclaiming the Sands Government Works of Improvement CHAPTER VI: PROJECTED OR POSSIBLE GEOGRAPHICAL CHANGES BY MAN Cutting of Marine Isthmuses The Suez Canal Canal across Isthmus of Darien Canals to the Dead Sea Maritime Canals in Greece Canal of Saves Cape Cod Canal Diversion of the Nile Changes in the Caspian Improvements in North American Hydrography Diversion of the Rhine Draining of the Zuidersee Waters of the Karst Subterranean Waters of Greece Soil below Rock Covering Rock with Earth Wadies of Arabia Petraea Incidental Effects of Human Action Resistance to great Natural Forces Effects of Mining Espy's Theories River Sediment Nothing small in Nature Index


First published in 1864, this cautionary exploration of how civilizations decline when they degrade the natural world is the wellspring of the environmental movement. -- T.H. Watkins Washington Post This classic of conservation, Man and Nature, is a remarkable work. Written more than 100 years ago, it remains as rich and suggestive now as it must have been astonishing then...The editor has written an excellent and meticulously balanced foreword...It should be added that the labor of Lowenthal in correcting, amplifying, and annotating the original creation of Marsh is beyond cavil. Los Angeles Times

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