The Control of Nature

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The Control of Nature (ISBN 0374128901) is a 1989 book by John McPhee that chronicles three attempts (with varying success) to control natural processes. 'My book is not an editorial," McPhee said. "It is a description of people defying nature. They may have no choice. Its title is derived from a sign on the engineering building at the University of Wyoming.[1]

The residents of Heimaey, Iceland saved their harbor by spraying water on the volcanic lava flow threatening to close it off. The Army Corps of Engineers prevents the Mississippi River from changing course, but has had less success in controlling flooding along the river. The residents of the San Gabriel Mountains have had little success in preventing debris flows from destroying their houses.


  1. ^ Pyne, Stephen. "A War Against the World". New York Times. Retrieved 27 March 2015.