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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... George Perkins Marsh, dubbed the "father of the environmental movement" with the publication of Man and Nature 135 years ago.


CURWOOD: A book called Man and Nature was published 135 years ago, and with the subtitle "The Earth as Modified by Human Action," its author, George Perkins Marsh, broke new ground by showing how people affect the environment. Witnessing damage done by farmers who cleared their land in his native Vermont, Mr. Marsh urged that streams and rivers be kept clean, and that wildlife soil and crops be protected. His teachings inspired Arbor Day, the establishment of forest reserves, and earned him the title, "father of the environmental movement." Mr. Marsh worked as a sheep farmer, teacher, lawyer, and businessman, and served as a member of Congress. And after a trip to Egypt and Arabia, Mr. Marsh became obsessed with camels. He thought them superior to horses and even convinced Congress to press the animals into military service. In the late 1850s, 74 camels were shipped to Indianola, Texas. The South captured them during the Civil War and they were used to haul cotton to Mexico. After the war, the camel cavalry was phased out, and the Army sold most of the beasts to a circus. Still, for years afterwards, camels could be seen roaming the western desert. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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