Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/546

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

sioned considerable expenditures, not to speak of the indirect losses, which were immense. We are, unfortunately, absolutely without data concerning the cost of civil wars, and shall have to satisfy ourselves with what we have been able to obtain concerning foreign wars. $80,156,800,000 used up in two centuries! We need not go outside of this for a solution of the social question. Without this unrestricted waste the earth would now have ten times more wheat, sugar, linen, cotton, meat, wool, etc.; there would be ten times as many houses on the globe, and they would be more spacious, better warmed, and better ventilated; a network of roads, with frequent mails, would cover Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. In short, if conquest had been considered an evil, even during only two centuries, our wealth would have been infinitely superior to what we now possess. But if the ctesohedonic fallacy had been seen through by the civilized societies of the Roman period, the face of the earth would have been very different from what it is. Our planet would have been completely appropriated to the satisfaction of our wants. Waste lands would have been tilled and swamps dried; everywhere that a drop of water could be made to serve for irrigation it would have been applied to that use. Magnificent cities, inhabited by active and industrious populations, would have arisen in numerous places where now are found only briers and stones. In short, we should have been able to see men now, in the year of grace 1894, as we expect to see them in three or four thousand years.

The past can not be changed. We have laid bare the unhappy consequences of our ancient errors simply in order to show how we can assure our welfare in the future. As long as the spirit of conquest rages among men, misery will be the lot of our species. Our savage and barbarous ancestors did not know what we know. Attila, Tamerlane, and even Matabele, a chief of our own times, might be excused for fancying that conquest increases the wealth of the conquerors; but a Moltke and a Prince Bismarck can not. The masses are still too deeply imbued with military vainglory. Happily, they are beginning to open their eyes.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the hook Les Gaspillages des Sociétés Modernes (The Wastes of Modern Societies), Paris, 1894.


Until within a few years the field for the study of glaciers and their action has been the Alps; but now, as Prof. H. L. Fairchild said in his address as chairman of the Geological Section of the American Association, the North American continent is recognized as a field of the greatest activity, both in the past and at the present time; and, moreover, it presents types of glaciers not known in Europe. It must therefore become the Mecca of foreign students of glaciers.