OBJECT LESSONS TO BE LAID TO HEART.
INDIA is at present suffering from a fearful famine— the result of drought. That drought in its turn is caused by the dryness of the treeless plains and the abundant moisture of the jungle and forest. The population of the country has increased so rapidly under British rule as to compel the destruction of both forest and jungle in order to provide arable land to supply the increased demand. Hence come drought and famine. In Egypt also the Nile is drying up; it now not only never even approximates to its ancient height and depth, but is actually dwindling away, so to say. year by year. This also is the outcome of an extensive and ceaseless destruction of the forests in the adjacent districts. In the Congo also the seemingly inexhaustible forests of that portion of central Africa are being so rapidly cut down, as to call for protective measures. It was the same in Persia—once the most fertile land in Asia, well watered and richly wooded; it has also been the fate of the Sahara—at one time the granary of Europe. Today in each region all is barrenness. It is true they are still traversed by rivers; but these rivers flow far beneath the surface, and rise to that surface only here and there—just enough to keep up small oases, round which the sands are as hot, dry, and barren as the floor of a furnace. Yet, if a well is driven, an underground vein of water is sure to be tapped, and recourse has only to be had to irrigation for the desert once more to blossom as the rose. It is, therefore, reasonable to believe that through irrigation and reforesting conditions may be reached in which artificial irrigation will cease to be necessary, for Nature will do the work she used to do before her principlesof climatic economy were outraged by artificial deforestation. In all these instances lies a series of object lessons for the United States. Scarcity has occasionally been the result of drought in the Western States of this country, and here and there streams are becoming mere driblets and threatening to vanish altogether. Yet no compensation is being afforded these localities in the way of reforesting, nor is any protection offered them against those who so recklessly denude the soil of its trees. The violated laws of Nature will sooner or later assert themselves, and if men ruthlessly destroy those forests which are the mediums of irrigation, there ensues a dearth of water, and famine is the result.
The law (says a writer) is inexorable. Men now see trickling rills, where in their boyhood they saw full brimming streams. And they also see bare, sunscathed hillsides, where then they saw donse, primeval forests. It is cause and effect, nothing more. But should not rational men learn the lesson?