Awareness of damage to the environment was rather scant during the Nineteenth Century, so finding any environmental cartoons from this period, is rare. When they are found, it nearly always involves the aftermath/results of some environmental damage caused by Man.
Above, from rear cover of the February 28th, 1883 issue of Puck, comes The Lesson of the Floods, depicting how unregulated deforestation led to the flooding of towns (note the tops of buildings shown on the far left, peeking out from within the river).
Click on the picture above, to view a larger version.
The above cartoon by artist Bernhard Gillam, was created in response to the Ohio River flood of February 21st, 1883, referred to by some locals as “Noah’s Flood”. Deforestation along the Ohio River banks, had resulted in soil washing into the river, filling its bottom and tributaries, so that the minor flooding people were used to, became instead a cresting of the river at 66 feet!
Failing to take this as a lesson in proper land management, the floods occurred again the next year, reaching this time a height of 71 feet. (For the source of the above information, click here on Digger Odell).
Next, from the May 1912 issue (swiped a month early) of Cartoons Magazine, we have a page of cartoons on the Mississippi River Valley Flood of 1912, all focusing upon how a lack of forethought and investment in our environmental future — which would have cost a small amount upfront — instead now costs a large amount, thrown at the disaster, only after it has already occurred! Cartoonists above include Robert Minor, Jr. and William Charles Morris.
Click here, to find our prior Earth Day postings.