One of Gifford Pinchot's early influences was the scholar and diplomat George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882). Marsh's "Man and Nature," first published by Charles Scribner in 1864, was what might be called a best-seller, describing the downfall of Mediterranean civilizations by various misadventures including over-expansion into foreign lands and flagrant neglect of land and water resources. A native of Vermont, Marsh had observed the desiccation of landscapes while serving as American Ambassador to both Italy and Turkey. He wrote: "The operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon." Marsh scholar David Lowenthal notes in the Preface to his book "George Perkins Marsh: Prophet of Conservation" (University of Washington Press: 2000) that "the history of great men is "now out of fashion." According to Lowenthal, "Marsh himself stressed that humble and unsung lives were as deserving of memory as those of the great, and collectively of far more consequence for both human and earthly history."
Marsh was particularly concerned with the effects of erosion and sedimentation in arid landscapes. While most water consumption is attributable to large-scale agriculture and industry, we too can do our part in helping to conserve water at home. From the article below, we learn that water table quantity and quality throughout the US are in rapid decline. With the increase in planetary temperatures, melting polar ice, and incumbent rise in sea-level causing erosion and sedimentation in streams and lakes, what we as individuals do is certainly important.
"In 1990, 30 states in the US reported 'water-stress' conditions. In 2000, the number of states reporting water-stress rose to 40. In 2009, the number rose to 45. There is a worsening trend in water supply nationwide. Taking measures at home to conserve water not only saves you money, it also is of benefit to the greater community."
Every drop counts on our drying planet. Thank you!