In Aldo Leopold's book "A Sand County Almanac", Aldo discussed many thoughts, ideas and feelings about the environment and man's interaction with it. He was able to describe his surrounds with amazing ingenuity. One can connect with what Leopold says as he takes us through one thought provoking idea after another in his book. One thought that Leopold described, which holds true to this day, is the concept of a Land Ethic and why such an ethic is needed. Leopold also discusses various barriers that stand in the way of implementing such an ethic.
According to Aldo Leopold, man has yet to enforce any sort of ethics in how we treat the land and it's inhabitants. It seems that all man really cares about is if we will benefit economically from our relationship with the land regardless of the consequences. What Leopold suggests is that we consider applying the same ethical views to the land as we give each other.
Instead of being conquerors of the land, we need to think of ourselves as being a member of biotic community, which includes plants, animals, soil and water. If we think of our relationships with each other and the land in this manner, the thought is that we will give greater consideration and respect to our surroundings before we do something to harm or affect the land. Naturally, there will be a need for us to use the land to our benefit. However, in using the lands limited resources, we need to consider and manage the ways in which we harvest what we need as to limit our impact to the biotic community in which we live. By having a Land Ethic, man will understand and do what is ethically correct when interacting with his surroundings.
The concept of a Land Ethic is a very unique idea. However, given various barriers, implementing such an ethic seems almost impossible in today's society. Unfortunately, man does not view himself as a member of a biotic community as previously described. Instead, man considers himself the conqueror of the land and his surroundings. Everything that man does to the land and it's inhabitants seems to be driven by the need to sustain an ever-growing economy. If there is no economic benefit to be had by conserving water or saving certain species from becoming extinct, man will not take the necessary actions to do what it takes to save the species or conserve the water. On the same token, if man is not properly educated about the land and the implications of treating the land poorly, implementing a Land Ethic will be very difficult. Man needs to have a basic understanding that the biotic community in which we live is an extremely complex one. The slightest tipping of the scales in one direction or another can have major, unforeseen consequences.
Man must change his attitude in his role in the biotic community. Instead of thinking of the problems that face us today as the government's problems, he must think of himself as an individual contributor to the solution of the problems that face us. Man must overcome the economic and educational obstacles that stand in the way of a Land Ethic. The concept of a Land Ethic is something that if implemented and understood, would have profound benefits for generations to come. Wee must continue to fight to do what is right, not only in relation with each other, but in relation with the land on which we live as well.