The control on nature

I would have probably told you I might never even read this book and that it made me bored to just read the copy on the back. And I can't even tell you why I started to read this. I was just sitting around my apartment, reading Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! And it's only pages long, with sort of big print!

The control on nature

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, American author John McPhee — has written more than twenty nonfiction books, many of them notable contributions about humans and their interaction with the environment, since A native of Princeton, New Jerseyhe attended both Princeton University and Cambridge University before embarking on a career in journalism with Time magazine.

McPhee received the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in and received a Pulitzer Prize in for Annals of the Former World, his collected writings about geologists and their work.

The Control of Nature consists of three separate essays. The first, titled "Atchafalaya" describes an attempt to The control on nature the Mississippi River in a channel that it no longer wishes to occupy.

The control on nature

The second and third essays, titled "Cooling the Lava" and " Los Angeles Against the Mountains" describe the efforts undertaken to divert a lava flow headed for a town on the Icelandic island of Heimaey and engineering solutions to the deadly debris flow in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California.

If nature were to have its way, the Mississippi River would abandon its current channel and bypass New Orleans. Its flow would be captured by the nearby Atchafalaya River, which lies lower than the Mississippi and would have provided a more efficient path to the sea.

There is nothing unusual about this, for it is the way that rivers work over centuries and millennia. The economic effects of a stream captured by the Atchafalaya, however, would be devastating.

New Orleans and the string of petrochemical plants stretching upriver would lose their fresh water supplytheir access to the open ocean, and their river access to the rest of the United States. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the proportion of the Mississippi flowing into the Atchafalaya is maintained at its level, in effect freezing the dynamic river system in time.

The proportion of flow being diverted from the Mississippi had been steadily increasing since the middle of the nineteenth century and had reached 30 percent by Without intervention, the Atchafalaya would have eventually captured the entire flow of the Mississippi and diverted it away from the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

In "Atchafalaya," McPhee also elaborates upon the precarious position of New Orleans next to a river that should not be flowing where it is. The city lies in a topographic bowl lower than the bodies of water that surround it, which are kept at bay by a complicated system of levees that require constant maintenance.

He goes on to explain how the containment of floodwater to benefit commerce and reduce flood damage has starved coastal regions of sediment and decreased their ability to buffer hurricane storm surges. Beyond that, however, all three sections of the book speak to the broader issue of the wisdom of attempting to control nature.

Some would argue that a decision to battle nature on the scale of Old River Control should be couched in terms of hubris, not wisdom, because the river will ultimately win.

All it will take is a lapse in maintenance or a series of events not imagined by the engineers, or perhaps something as simple as the passing of time. If the Mississippi cannot flow through the Old River channel into the Atchafalaya, it will find somewhere else. Viewed in retrospect and with a modern understanding of geologic processes, one might argue that New Orleans should never have been built or at least not allowed to grow into a major city.


Likewise for homes in the unstable mountains surrounding Los Angeles and the unnamed Icelandic town on the erupting volcanic island of Heimaey.

But, once cities have begun to grow it is not easy or even desirable to stop the process, let alone reverse it. It would be practically impossible to close down and relocate major cities susceptible to flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes and other hazards.

The economic and cultural benefits of a thriving city, moreover, may outweigh the costs of possible future catastrophies. Although the control of nature may be a losing proposition in the long run, in many cases there may be no other practical choice.

The Control of Water in the Atchafalaya Basin, — Web sites Center for Land Use Interpretation. The Development of River Control in Mississippi. Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.The Control of Nature is a book by John McPhee that chronicles three attempts (with varying success) to control natural processes.


It is divided into three long essays, "Atchafalaya", "Cooling the Lava", and "Los Angeles Against the Mountains". The Control of Nature and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App/5().

The Control of Nature [John McPhee] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. The Control of Nature is John McPhee's bestselling account of places where people are locked in combat with nature.

Taking us deep into these contested territories/5(). Mar 31,  · The Control of Nature by John McPhee is a non-fiction collection of three essays dealing with humanity’s attempts to control natural processes. The idea for the collection began in , when. “We continue to be confident, but we don’t have control of this, we don’t have control of Mother Nature,” said Ron Myers, a deputy incident commander with Cal Fire.

The Control of Nature has 3, ratings and reviews. Tony said: There are three extended essays herein about disparate places where humans insist on /5.

The Control of Nature Summary & Study Guide