It has been 70 years since Aldo Leopold’s masterpiece on the “Land Ethic” has been in print. In the “Land Ethic”, Leopold mused that until we stopped seeing land as a commodity and realize that we are all part of the community, we will never protect the land. I have to admit that I was very encouraged by his essay when I was a young man, but have since lost heart and have become quite discouraged and now believe we may never achieve the hallowed ”Land Ethic” that Leopold spoke of with such passion.
I find it disheartening to see how we treat each other so poorly and I cannot see how we as a species will ever achieve anything as lofty and noble as the “Land Ethic”. In just the past year we have watched as hatred has spread across the globe and become more acceptable in our own country. Here in the 21st century we still have people sold as slaves ( https://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0309/feature1/ ), we still have wars raging around the world (https://www.historyguy.com/21st_century_wars.html ), extinction is running rampant ( https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/ ) and we humans are finding it easier to rationalize numerous atrocities that we do to our fellow human beings (https://www.ocweekly.com/news/ten-most-heinous-crimes-of-the-decade-6480966 ). Before you say, but those people are sick or that was the exception, not the rule, let me remind you that things are getting worse not better.
Look at the average American, they live in a city and many have never even seen the Milky Way. They have no clue where their food actually comes from and are more concerned about the Kardashians than they are about the chemicals we are pumping into are water and air. The CEO of Nestle feels that water is a commodity to be sold not a right (https://www.bottledlifefilm.com/index.php/the-story.html ). We are breeding ourselves into extinction and unfortunately we are like the drunk on the highway…we are happy to take others with us when we go. It is believed that we are causing the 6th massive extinction on the planet (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/03/books/the-sixth-extinction-on-endangered-and-departed-species.html?_r=0 ) and all we care about is getting cheaper designer bags and wifi.
Whenever we appear to try and solve a problem, someone comes along and blocks our efforts. Recently, the state of Michigan made it illegal to ban plastic bags (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/30/yes-this-is-real-michigan-just-banned-banning-plastic-bags/?utm_term=.fb3382363b4a ) and fools are still arguing that global warming is not a problem.
We are still treating the world and all of its creatures as a commodity. Leopold lived during the Dust Bowl and World War I and II. Leopold still saw hope in humanity even after all he had to endure. But I must admit that I do not have the optimism for my fellow human beings. I still hold the “Land Ethic” up as a shining example of what we can achieve. To ever achieve the “land Ethic” we need a total shift to our way of thinking. We need to evaluate ourselves and start focusing on things bigger than ourselves.
To start we can look at our own actions. Instead of mowing a whole acre of land for a well manicured lawn, we should leave some uncut. We should plant native species to leave habitat for our fellows on the planet. We can stop using so much and try to eliminate waste whenever possible. We should focus on buying locally…there is less wastes produced when shipping. We should hold our elected officials and companies up to a higher standard. We need to hold ourselves to a higher standard too.