Man's physical universe

xanabras

' U. S. Soil Conservation Service.

192

UNIT III

SECTION 9

LIFE IS INTIMATELY CONNECTED WITH CHANGES

IN THE EARTH'S SURFACE

Where there is

no vision, the people perish.

— Proverbs 29:18.

What shall it profit a nation to gain all the gold in the world and suffer the

loss of its soil? — Walter G. Lowdermilk.^

Introduction.

The natural endowment of the United States is unrivaled among the

nations of the world.

One of the largest of the favorable climatic regions is found in the

United States. Almost one fourth of the land suitable for cultivation

within the temperate zones lies within the boundaries of continental

United States. This Section presents a "get-rich-quick" version of

this "paradise lost."

The average uninformed person is likely to consider soil as just plain

dirt, not realizing that it is the connecting link between the living and

nonliving world. The early pioneer, confronted by seemingly inexhaustible

resources of plant and animal life, killed huge herds of buffalos

for their hides, ruthlessly cut down the world's greatest forests and

burned the wood to obtain charcoal or wood ashes, as if these natural

resources were man's worst enemies. Sod which had been thousands

of years in the making was plowed up with considerable difficulty;

and as soon as a piece of land was denuded of its soil, the plows moved

on to new virgin territory. By this time, however, the machine age

had multiplied man's destructiveness a thousandfold, so it was not

long until the scene of the marvelous golden wheattields in the Middle

West became the desolate graveyard of the machines which made the

wheatfields possible and the dust bowl witnessed the exodus of some

of our best citizens, who had unwittingly helped to bring about the

permanent loss of an alarmingly high per cent of the soil which is our

priceless heritage.

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