Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action

Marsh, George Perkins | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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Marsh, George Perkins. Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Edited by David Lowenthal. With a foreword by William Cronon. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003.

In Man and Nature, first published in 1864, polymath scholar and diplomat George Perkins Marsh challenged the general belief that human impact on nature was generally benign or negligible and charged that ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean had brought about their own collapse by their abuse of the environment. By deforesting their hillsides and eroding their soils, they had destroyed the natural fertility that sustained their well-being. Marsh offered his compatriots in the United States a stern warning that the young American republic might repeat these errors of the ancient world if it failed to end its own destructive waste of natural resources. Marsh's ominous warnings inspired conservation and reform. In linking culture with nature, science with history, Man and Nature was the most influential text of its time next to Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published just five years earlier. — University of Washington Press website.