How Man Has Changed The Face Of Nature
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE subject of "How Man Has Changed the Face of Nature," is a large one, and could only be covered by a complete survey of the earth and the history of man's relations to it, but a few facts in relation thereto may stimulate interest and evoke inquiry.
Nowhere has man left such traces of his handiwork upon the face of nature, and nowhere have these traces multiplied so rapidly, as in our own country. What was once a cow-path meandering through fields where Boston now is, is to-day Washington Street, one of the busiest shopping centres in the whole world, where thousands of buyers from hundreds of towns and villages round about, daily congregate.
The reclamation of marsh lands, the guiding of rivers into channels, along the banks of which cities have grown up, the clearing and settling of forest lands, the spreading of the net-work of railroads all over the country, with the towns growing up along their routes, all this has changed entirely the face of nature.
And it is to be hoped that re-afforestation will ere long change the face of the acres which have been ruthlessly denuded of their forest trees to furnish lumber for building and wood-pulp for paper-making.
But, of all the factors in the changing of the face of nature that have been in operation since the days when the waters of the Nile were first utilized to make the desert blossom like the rose, down to the present time, one of the greatest has been the development of the art and science of Irrigation. Man's conquest over the difficulties with which he found himself surrounded, was never more signally exemplified than in the Irrigation System which the people of the State of Utah have developed. Its soil is, as a rule, dry and sandy, and in many places useless for purposes of cultivation because of its strong salty impregnation. By Irrigation enormous tracts have been reclaimed and rendered profit-ably productive so that the earth yields up fruit after its kind, and supports man and beast where dry desert was before.
In India, in Egypt, in Canada, in Australia, and New Zealand, the British people have made millions of acres productive that were formerly barren, and the appearance and prospects of the western third of the United States have been entirely changed by our own enterprise in this direction.
It is impossible within the space of this note to describe the various methods by which water is introduced above and below the soil for the purpose of rendering it fertile. The subject of Irrigation is now one of national importance—equal in importance to the care and preservation of our forests.