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nearly a third flows into the sea, chiefly in destructive floods. Of our 3,000,000 square miles in area, fully a third is practically unproductive and uninhabited by reason of insufficient rainfall—our sterile region equaling in area Great Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Lower Egypt, and Palestine combined, or all the countries in which the greater chapters of human history have been lived and written. Even in the remaining two-thirds of our territory the rainfall is hardly adequate, and our agriculture and other industries have been maintained in part by drawing on the accumulated store of ground water so recklessly that throughout half a dozen States the water table has been lowered from ten to thirty feet. Under intensive agriculture a well-watered country will sustain a family on five acres, or an inhabitant to the acre; on this basis our 2,000,000,000 acres would sustain two thousand million men, women and children; but there is not water enough from natural sources to sustain half so many, or the 1,000,000,000 which we shall have within three centuries if our population continues to increase at the current rate. We are exceedingly slow to realize the enormous consumption of water connected with the complex process involved in the maintenance of individual and social life; but the time has come for awakening to the fact that a human population cannot be sustained under existing industrial and other conditions at a less cost than 5,000 or 6,000 tons of water per year for each man and woman and child. So it is not too much to say, without disparaging the other resources, that water ranks first as the prime requisite of life, and stands coordinate with all the rest as a basis of human welfare.
In the light of recent knowledge concerningg the rôle of water in the vital development of the earth the five efficiencies become clearer.
The efficiency of the soil depends primarily on its capacity for storing and conveying water for the use of the living flora; for each thousand tons of soil, in order to yield its normal ton of nature product in wood or in grain and forage combined, must during each year convey to the growing plants fully a thousand tons of water. So the ideal cultivation is that which best maintains the proper physical condition of the soil as a medium for retaining and conveying moisture, and best retains those by-products of plant growth and animal life which during the ages have progressively increased and enriched it; and the worst evil to be counteracted is that of waste of the richer soil matter through leaching and erosion. In the balance of natural interaction, the rainfall and slopes and natural cover are so adjusted that soil erosion is slight and immaterial; but with the derangement of the balance through settlement and shortsighted agriculture, the erosion of the soil has become appalling—for our rivers annually carry into the sea nearly a billion tons of richest soil stuff, whereby our annual crop value is reduced several million dollars.
The efficiency of plants is measured first by their capacity for growth, itself depending on that circulation which dissolves earth salts and distributes them through the growing tissues in a ratio of perhaps one part of solid plant food to one thousand parts of water; and in the second place, on their capacity for producing highly complex compounds fit for food of animals and men, together with those nitrates and phosphates and carbon and potassium required for the progressive enrichment of the soil. The ideal agriculture involves the selection of the fit and the elimination of the unfit among plants, and—now that human command over lower nature is growing perfect—the invention and creation of more useful forms and varieties than those provided by nature. The most serious evils to be met are those arising from plant diseases and insect and animal enemies which entail annual losses probably exceeding a tenth of the normal production. The efficiency of animals is akin to that of plants. It is measured primarily by capacity for growth, itself dependent on circulation as related to respiration, assimilation, metabolism, germination, and other vital processes. The ideal methods of increasing and improving animal life include selection and breeding, the development of new forms and varieties, and the prevention of disease, now a heavy tax on animal production. The efficiency of man is measured primarily by individual capacity for successful effort, itself depending on vigor of the vital processes; and secondarily by freedom from disease and length of life, as well as by fecundity. In the current state of opinion, the ideal means of conserving and increasing human efficiency lies in the prevention of disease and in the care and protection of infants and invalids. The efficiency of the State, measured of old by the power and wisdom of the monarch, is in this age of enlightenment measured by the capacity of the average citizen, multiplied into the population and by the abundance of the natural resources. The ideal means of promoting it lies in the maintenance of the family, in which individuals arise; of the home, in which patriotism is instilled; and of the electorate, through which the people rule. The chief evil to be apprehended is that besetting social disease due to the intervention in the body-politic between the electors and their dulyelected representatives to whom government is entrusted; the sole and sufficient remedy is the maintenance of the standard set by the Founders of the Republic and sealed by the greatest native American, Abraham Lincoln—a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (Applause.)
THE CIVIC ASPECT OF CONSERVATION.
HoN. HENRY A. BARKER, REPRESENTING THE STATE of RHODE ISLAND AND THE AMERICAN Civic Association.
To talk on any phase of conservation when Mr. Pinchot, Dr. McGee, and Governor Pardee are present seems like assuming to bestow wisdom on the prophets out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. “I am no orator as Brutus is,” but I am glad to bring you heartiest greetings from the city which is as far away from Seattle on the map of the United States as it can very well be without getting pushed off into Narragansett Bay, and to say to you that I believe that everybody in Rhode Island who gives heed to public affairs at all feels that in the conservation movement there is to be found a great common cause that demands the warmest cooperation of every patriotic citizen, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Cape Nome to the Panama Canal.
This is the feeling of the Governor of Rhode Island, who begged me to convey to this convention his heartiest good wishes. And I am proud to bring you greetings, not only from far away Little Rhody, but from the American Civic Association, which is heartily enlisted in every phase of the conservation campaign and knows no boundaries except those of the whole continent. Conservation is certainly fundamental to its work for a more beautiful and better America, which calls for the preservation of all the natural assets of forest, stream, and field; of the inspiring objects of notable beauty; of the recreation places necessary to the coming generations of our cities; the things in general that sustain life and make life worth sustaining. Since the principles of conservation are fundamental, not only to the prosperity of States, but to the very existence of civilization upon our earth, it is well for us to consider them and work for them, not as representatives of Washington, or Colorado, or Rhode Island, not with sectional selfishness or local insistence, but as citizens of the United States drawn together in the vital concerns of our common country. We must be Americans first, whatever State we hail from. All of the things that the Civic Association pleads for to make America “Better and More Beautiful,” as its motto reads, are but phases of conservation after all. It can never be said of this, as it has recently been said of the tariff, that it is a local issue. Nor is it a temporary one. Let men excite themselves if they will over rate regulations or steamship subsidies, or questions of high license or low, but let them not forget that all man-made laws may be altered or corrected at any time, while conservation principally deals with inexorable laws of nature, which, if violated, cannot be legislated away. Neglect of these principles has brought ruin and annihilation to almost all of the nations that have faded from the map; has caused decadence of races and turned many a oncesmiling land into a desert waste. We possess no charmed existence or immunity from the penalties that have been visited on Northern China and Palestine and Africa. The East has much to learn from the West, for it is in the East that the process of destruction by unscientific farming, for example, and by the devastation of forests has been going on for the longest time, while in the West the building-up process has been notably progressing. To some extent at least it may be said that the East has been making deserts of its gardens while the West has been making gardens of its deserts. If there is anything that I can ever hope to look back upon with any real live satisfaction, it is to the fact that through the reiteration of a certain propaganda and by a campaign of publicity to which I have given most of my time for the last few years, I have been somewhat instru