July 24, 2018

July 24 Webinar: A warning from vanished civilizations: The history and continuing impact of Walter Lowdermilk’s Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years. Presentation and discussion by NRCS Historian Shelby Callaway, Ph.D.

Abstract: In continuous publication since 1953, Walter C. Lowdermilk’s Conquest of the Land Through 7,000 Years is the oldest document still regularly produced by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Based on Lowdermilk’s research and observations in the late 1930s, this short pamphlet argues that anthropogenic soil erosion led directly to the decline and fall of dozens of civilizations throughout the old world. Lowdermilk’s work argued human-induced soil erosion was not only a national menace, but also an ancient devourer of entire civilizations. Because it frames the problem of excessive erosion in such brief and evocatively stark terms, this report has endured for over 60 years.

This presentation provides a brief history of Lowdermik’s travels while researching his most well-known publication and explores how his work was shaped by his experiences investigating soil erosion in a world on the brink of war. Moreover, it examines how subsequent scholars and conservation practitioners have continued his efforts to define topsoil as a strategic national resource.

Webinar Log-In: https://usda-oce.zoom.us/j/980370165

Dial-In: (669) 900 6833  or (646) 558 8656  Meeting ID: 980 370 165

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