Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/401

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.



AUGUST, 1877.



THE CLIMATIC INFLUENCE OF VEGETATION.—A PLEA FOR OUR FORESTS.
By F. L. OSWALD, M.D.

"AS a fellow Unitarian, I feel sorry for the Turks," Dr. Schliemann writes from Salonica, "but, as a respecter of God's physical laws, I must own that they deserve their fate. Men who for twenty generations have proved themselves tree-destroyers on principle, have no right to complain if the world rises against them."

It would be well for the world if for the last twenty generations the Turks had been the only "tree-destroyers on principle." Since the advent of the Christian religion, the physical history of our planet records the steady growth of a desert, which made its first appearance on the dry table-land of Southern Syria, and gradually spreading eastward down the Euphrates toward Afghanistan, and westward along both shores of the Mediterranean, now extends from Eastern Persia to the western extremity of Portugal, and sends its harbingers into Southern France and the southeastern provinces of European Russia. Like a virulent cancer, the azoic sand-drifts of the Moab Desert have eaten their way into Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and dried up the life-springs of districts which beyond all dispute were once the garden-regions of this earth.

Prince de Ligne, countryman and contemporary of Maria Theresa, wrote an essay "On the Location of the Earthly Paradise," and, after some reflections on the hygienic influence of different climates, calls attention to the fact that "paradise-traditions, in locating the garden of Eden, differ only in regard to longitude, but not to latitude. The latitude keeps always near the snow-boundary, a line just south of the regions where snow may fall, but will not stay on the ground. It passes through Thibet, Cashmere, Northern Persia, and Asia Minor,