On Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic

Southern Nights

Dark-clouds-April-7_2011S-1024x682When Aldo Leopold wrote A Sand County Almanac, he placed his “land ethic”— his argument that we ought to treat the rest of creation as ethically as we hope to treat other humans— at the heart of his book, and at the heart of the land ethic he placed the idea of community. Leopold believed the reason humans are so shortsighted in our treatment of the natural world is that we do not see ourselves as part of a community with it. He argued that, while we have made great strides over the centuries toward expanding our notion of the human community to include a wider range of race, gender, and ethnicity, we have not made the same adjustment for the land. “All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts,” he wrote. “The land ethic simply…

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