Land slips, Kenneth Cumberland, & bitter irony

Sumner cliff slideIn 1944, Kenneth Cumberland, a recently emigrated British geographer published Soil Erosion in New Zealand, a geographical survey of what was fast becoming known as the “erosion epidemic”. Refreshingly, Cumberland does not shrink from expressing strong opinions. In the introduction to his book, he writes:

[New Zealand’s] cultural youth has been characterised to a large extent by the pioneer destruction of the resources of a little known environment…

The people of New Zealand have been reared in the midst of unnecessary losses of soil and become so accustomed to their presence as to take little heed of them. They often come to consider soil erosion as a “normal”, unavoidable occurrence…

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