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Marsh, George Perkins (1801–1882)

  • By: Dominic Golding
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

George Perkins Marsh was a polymath, scholar, and diplomat. He was a well-known scholar in North America in the mid 1800s, published several notable works on the origins and history of the English language, and had an extensive knowledge of 20 languages. It is ironic, therefore, that he is best remembered for his seminal work Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, since he had no formal training in physical geography or ecology. Drawing on his keen observations growing up in Vermont and his subsequent travels in the Middle East, Marsh was the first to demonstrate that human activities have extensive, adverse impacts on the physical environment. Thus, Marsh is considered by many to be the first environmentalist.

Marsh was born ...

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