The Land Ethic
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The Land Ethic by Aido Leopold addresses the issue of land and how people ought to relate to it. Land is an important part of our lives and Leopold felt it necessary to encourage the society to be active in the protection and preservation of the land which makes up part of the beautiful, dynamic and healthy planet in which we live in. rather than focusing on the important purposes that land serves to human beings and the entire flora and fauna, he focused on the aspect of land itself and the responsibility that we as human beings hold towards it (Leopold 19). The relationship should be based on ethics rather than on appreciation for what land gives to human beings and as such, The Land Ethic explains how ethics should govern how man interacts with land.
To start with, Leopold explains that the relationship between man and land is co-dependent. He explains that human beings should view themselves as ecological beings rather than the “centre of the universe”. This would go a long way as to ensure that they understand the importance of land and thus understand the responsibility they hold towards it. He expresses his dismay on how farmers dump fertilizers on land and clear the natural vegetation and are praised for it, despite the fact that they are tampering with the nature of land. As a society, we need to utilize land effectively in order to allow for its self-regeneration.
In addition to that, Leopold explains that human beings need to develop an ecological conscience to govern their interaction with land (27). Lack of an ecological conscience has led to the inability of human beings to understand the effects of their actions on land. In addition to that, the lack of effective consequences when one destroys land makes it difficult for people in the society to take up the responsibility they hold towards the conservation of land. Instead, people shift blame to the higher authorities for lack of productive land. Leopold explains that we, as a society need to change our perspective on land, understand our affections and loyalties and also have convictions for misusing it.
Human beings’ relationship with land should be an emotional process combined with intellect. In this sense, it should involve emotional intelligence and rational thinking. Leopold explains that human beings hold ethics towards things that they have an emotional connection to and as such, he urges us to hold an emotional connection to land in order for us to value and preserve it. An emotional connection to land implies that we need to love, appreciate and respect the land that we live in. in relation to rationality, we are expected to understand how our actions impact our natural resources particularly land and consequently change our mentality on how we interact with it.
Conclusively, Leopold explains that the relationship between man and land also involves the moral consideration of other cast in the planet. These include other species, populations, communities and ecosystems in place within the planet. We should include the biotic community in our ethics as they play an important role in the sustenance of land in its natural form. He explains that an action is right if it preserves the stability, integrity and the scenic value of the biotic community and if it tends otherwise, then it is wrong (Leopold 27). We are further encouraged to understand our role as citizens of land rather than the conquerors and as such we should give respect to the biotic community and the land we live in.
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