George Perkins Marsh is often considered America's first environmentalist. Perkins was a diplomat, author, and philologist, and far ahead of his time in terms of his views on the environment. Man and Nature, or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action presents readers with the opportunity to read the words of the father of the environmental movement in the United States.
The book begins with an introduction that presents ancient Rome as a case study for the importance of conservationism. Marsh uses a variety of sources to paint a picture of Rome as an area ripe with natural resources that were over utilized and eventually destroyed by man's actions. The second chapter discusses the effects of transferring and modifying vegetable and animal species, and argues for organic life as vital to environmental sustainability. The book goes on to examine specific ecosystems, and the impacts man has had on them, including forests, bodies of water, and deserts. March concludes his work with a discussion of projected and possible changes to geography that man has caused, and the potential impacts of these changes.
Marsh was clearly well ahead of his time in terms of his environmental attitudes. Man and Nature is a plea to readers to recognize the value of our natural landscapes and to ensure their protection. His words are every bit as poignant today as they were when they were written.
Man and Nature, or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action is a seminal text of the conservationist movement. It is a must read for any modern environmentalist, and a sad reminder that the issues facing man today have gone unresolved for nearly two centuries. This is an important work and one that deserves to be read by a wide audience.