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Being One with the Land

Brooke Steinicke
BIO 1120 F14

Aldo Leopolds essay titled The Land Ethic was a very interesting and informative read
for me. Lots of his concepts and thinking are very new for me so it was a challenge for me to
read and understand exactly what he was talking about. I found that this essay has a very strong
argument towards conservation and ethics. From this essay I learned that communities include
not just people but all elements of the natural world, including soils, water, plants, and animals;
or in Leopolds case the land. Form this essay I can better understand what an ethic is
ecologically and philosophically. Ecologically it "is a limitation on freedom of action in the
struggle for existence. Whereas philosophically it is a differentiation of social from anti-social
conduct. It was interesting to me how Leopold explained that these were definitions of one
thing. They are both so similar and dependent on each other.
From this essay I learned that we all have to do our part in creating a working society.
Leopold asks his readers to see that they must each play a part in preserving and protecting this
beautiful planet on which we live. He wants us to help create an ecological conscience which
he explains is a common sense of what is right and wrong when it comes to how we relate to
land. This essay really made me think about how important it is to respect the land that we live
in. So many people today dont care about what really goes on around them and they dont even
realize the damage that they are causing just by being mindless and letting one piece of trash fall
to the ground. Even the littlest of things make the biggest differences. I love how Leopold
explains that in this essay. He is straight forward yet reserved in the way that he explains things.
He asks things of his readers but then again leaves it up to them to make the decision.
One of the things that stuck out most to me throughout this essay is that out land ethic is
always evolving, it never stops. There will always be debates about national parks, what should
stay and what should go, there will always be talk about air and water pollution, climate changes
and protecting endangered species. It is so important for us to care about the land and our
communities and how we are going to evolve with our own land ethic. Leopold talks about how
our land ethic isnt something that society can just change overnight that is the reason that he
chose to write about it, because it is something that is extremely important yet will take forever
to change.
If I were to develop my own conservation philosophy I think that it would hold very
strong and true to Leopolds philosophy. I believe that we need to be one with nature and respect
the world that we live in. We are not here on this Earth to trash the land. I think that it is
important to recognize the circle of life and respect it. Not tamper with it. I believe that farming
on appropriate locations is something that we have to do to survive. It is important for us to have
safe farming communities and environments. I think that we need to protect our wildlife and
forests, not destroy them. There are so many beautiful things that are being lost and destroyed for
the wrong reasons. I have grown up in a family that loves nature, I love to go camping and my
dad always taught me to leave no trace. I think that is extremely important. We are not the only
living things on this earth and I think that is something that is being forgotten.
Leopold states A land ethic changes the role of humans from conqueror of the land
community to plain members and citizens of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and
also respect for the community as such. This is such a strong and powerful statement that I
agree with. To me this ethic means that we, as humans, are not here to conqueror the land that
with live in, we are citizens of it. We need to respect it and respect all of the living things around
us. Which includes pretty much everything. Money should not matter, it should not lead us to
destroy beautiful living things. Yes, there is a time and place where we have to break down the
land, simple for places to live and survive but that is as far are we should go. We need to respect
nature and enjoy all of the beautiful things that is brings intro our everyday lives.
If I were to give an explanation for our land-relation today I would agree with Leopold
and say that our relation is strictly economic. It seems that everything we do is to build our
economy. Which is not a bad thing, but at times we are destroying national forests simply
because we are greedy and want the money. That is something that makes me very sad. What is
going to happen when all of those things are gone? All that we are going to be left with is the
mess that we have created. We wont have any more natural beauty surround us. It will all be
manmade and by that I mean destroy by man.
Leopold also talks about how it is important for us to extend sensibilities to all members
of our community, nonhuman as well as human. This is extremely important in my eyes. Not
only should we care about each other as human beings, we should care about plants and animals
and the ground that we walk on. We should show respect to the building that have been build and
created for us that help us to survive. In my life this makes me want to be more respectful to
everyone and everything that I encounter. I should try and be more conservative with electricity
and water as well as how much I drive my car and contribute to air pollution. To me this also
means taking time out to go and enjoy nature. To go on a hike and see all of the beautiful things
on this earth.
Leopold states A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and
beauty of the biotic community. It is worn when it tends otherwise. I think that in this statement
is very true. If something is attempting to preserve the land and the community then I think that
it is very well a good thing. I think that some things dont fully preserve the integrity of the land
around us but they are not necessarily all bad things. There is a very fine line that we have to
meet at members of our community. We have to know the difference between good and bad and
how things are going to affect all of the human and non-human things around us.
One of my favorite quotes from the essay was when Leopold said It is inconceivable to
me that an ethical relationship [with land] can exist without love, respect, admiration, and a high
regard for its value. This quote really stuck out to me because I think that it is extremely true.
We cannot have a true relationship with the land that we live on without being able to love and
respect it. It is like having a relationship with another human-being. You must always love and
respect them and do everything you can to protect them each and every day. Both beauty and
duty are very motivating to me. I feel as if both equally motivate me. It is important to me to
recognize beauty and respect it as well as having a duty and always accomplishing and living up
to that duty.
Looking back at my own land ethic I truly do believe that is has come from self-
interest. I truly do have a strong relationship with nature and the things that surround me each
and every day. I believe that we need to preserve and protect the land that with live in. We need
to learn the good things that we can do to help preserve is and we need to act. We need to work
on straying away from the things that are hurting our environment. If we dont start now, we are
not going to be here much longer. If we want to live clean and healthy lives we need to learn
how to provide that for ourselves and everything surrounding us.
Overall, I think that The Land Ethic was a very good read. As I mentioned at the
beginning of this essay it was very hard for me to understand and I still feel like I did not fully
understand all of the information provided in the essay. I understand that we need to protect and
preserve our land. I did learn some new things from reading this essay but again, it was very
hard to understand. I do not have a lot of background with biology and conservation, let alone
the ethics of our land, so it was very hard to follow. After reading The Land Ethic I felt enthused
and I had a feeling that I need to do better about helping our land ethics to better evolve. I felt
that it is something that is too often put aside and that not very many people care about
preserving the land that we live on. A lot of us are too caught up in the world and all of the
worldly things a possessions when in reality we are destroying everything good around us. This
was a very interesting read but it would have helped to have had a little more background and
knowledge as to what Leopold was talking about. I would recommend it to future conservation
biology students but it would be nice to have a PowerPoint or perhaps a video to better explain
the essay and Leopolds beliefs and why he wrote what he did. Some of the parts that I liked best
were the parts where he talked about the food chain and how everything is connected and related
and that we all need each other to survive. We are all a living and breathing community and we
need to protect each other. There should be a state of harmony between men and land. That is
something that I will definitely take away from this reading. I am excited to learn more about
conservation biology and hope that I can better myself to help find that harmony between men
and land. Reading this essay has helped me to see how important it is to protect and preserve and
how quickly we need to help our land ethic to evolve and be one with the land on which we all