The object of the present volume is: to indicate the character and, approximately, the extent of the changes produced by human action in the physical conditions of the globe we inhabit; to point out the dangers of imprudence and the necessity of caution in all operations which, on a large scale, interfere with the spontaneous arrangements of the organic or the inorganic world; to suggest the possibility and the importance of the restoration of disturbed harmonies and the material improvement of waste and exhausted regions; and, incidentally, to illustrate the doctrine that man is, in both kind and degree, a power of a higher order than any of the other forms of animated life, which, like him, are nourished at the table of bounteous nature.
temperature will be raised. After the sands follow successively argillaceous, arable, and garden ground, then humus, which occupies the lowest rank.
"The retentive power of humus is but half as great as that of calcareous sand. We will add that the power or retaining heat is proportional to the density. It has also a relation to the magnitude of the particles. It is for this reason that ground covered with siliceous pebbles cools more slowly than siliceous sand, and that pebbly soils are best suited to the cultivation of the vine, because they advance the ripening of the grape more rapidly than chalky and clayey earths, which cool quickly. Hence we see that in examining the calorific effects of clearing forests, it is important to take into account the properties of the soil laid bare."--Becquerel, Des Climats et des Sols boises, p. 137.]
The hygroscopicity of humus or vegetable earth is much greater than that of any mineral soil, and consequently forest ground, where humus abounds, absorbs the moisture of the atmosphere more rapidly and in larger proportion than common earth. The condensation of vapor by absorption develops heat, and consequently elevates the temperature
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