Riled Up/Riled Up Archive/Article
Author: Reilly Capps/Friday, March 15, 2013/Categories: climate change
The mean temperature of London is a degree or two higher than that of the surrounding country
Forests serve as reservoirs and equalizers of humidity. In wet seasons, the decayed leaves and spongy soil of woodlands retain a large proportion of the falling rains, and give back the moisture in time of drought, by evaporation or through the medium of springs. They thus both check the sudden flow of water from the surface into the streams and low grounds, and prevent the droughts of summer from parching our pastures and drying up the rivulets which water them.
Becquerel, on the other hand, considers it certain that in tropical climates, the destruction of the forests is accompanied with an elevation of the mean temperature, and he thinks it highly probable that it has the same effect in the temperate zones. The following is the substance of his remarks on this subject:--
"Forests act as frigorific causes in three ways:
"1. They shelter the ground against solar irradiation and maintain a greater humidity.
"2. They produce a cutaneous transpiration by the leaves.
"3. They multiply, by the expansion of their branches, the surfaces which are cooled by radiation.
"These three causes acting with greater or less force, we must, in the study of the climatology of a country, take into account the proportion between the area of the forest and the surface which is bared of trees and covered with herbs and grasses.
"We should be inclined to believe à priori, according to the foregoing considerations, that the clearing of the woods, by raising the temperature and increasing the dryness of the air, ought to react on climate. There is no doubt that, if the vast desert of the Sahara were to become wooded in the course of ages, the sands would cease to be heated as much as at the present epoch, when the mean temperature is twenty-nine degrees [centigrade,=85° Fahr.]. In that case, the ascending currents of warm air would cease, or be less warm, and would not contribute, by descending in our latitudes, to soften the climate of Western Europe. Thus the clearing of a great country may react on the climates of regions more or less remote from it.
"... awakened to the necessity of restoring the disturbed harmonies of nature, whose well-balanced influences are so propitious to all her organic offspring, of repaying to our great mother the debt which the prodigality and the thriftlessness of former generations have imposed upon their successors--thus fulfilling the command of religion and of practical wisdom, to use this world as not abusing it."
Man has too long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for profligate waste.
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