Helen Clarkson, 11, of Ardmore, Okla., for her question:
Conservation is the wise management and the protection of the environment. Without conservation, all the resources necessary for life, such as air, animals, energy, minerals, plants, soil and water, would be damaged, wasted or destroyed.
In addition, conservation is concerned with the quality of the environment so that people can enjoy living. A healthy environment includes clean streets with open spaces in cities for parks and playgrounds. Each year, the Earth’s population grows by about 86 million. At the present time, about 4 billion people live here, with about 236,000 new residents being born every single day.
People used to think that the Earth could easily provide enough spaces and resources for all time. But today we know that the Earth has only a limited supply of most resources. And for this reason, conservation is absolutely necessary.
The Earth’s resources are not only limited, but the demands that people make on them increase daily as the population grows. There are other problems, too. Only three tenths of the Earth’s surface, for example, is land. The rest of the surface is covered with water.
Also, much of the land is too cold, too hot, too mountainous or too wet to grow crops. As a result, less than one acre of land remains to provide food for each person on Earth. There are eight main kinds of conservation: soil conservation, water conservation, forest conservation, wildlife conservation, conservation of grazing lands, mineral conservation, conservation for recreation and conservation in urban areas.
Each type of conservation has its own problems and solutions. But all are related because various resources depend on one another. Soil conservation is vital since most food that supports life comes from the soil.
It takes nature several hundred years to build one inch of topsoil. But erosion can wash or blow away this soil in a few years or even weeks. Conservation protects against erosion. Rain falling on one acre of barren, sloping land can wash away as much as 60 truckloads of soil in a single year. Such washing away is called sheet erosion. Water can also carve gullies in hillsides or wind can blow the topsoil off both sloping and and level land.
Water conservation is necessary since only three percent of the water on Earth is fresh, or unsalty. And the demand for clean, fresh water increases year by year. Forest conservatidn is related to water and soil conservation. Well protected forests can serve man indefinitely. We can take care of game and fish by protecting the places where they live.