Leopold in "American Earth," Leopold Aldo Refers Essay

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Leopold

In "American Earth," Leopold Aldo refers to the "epidemic of ditch digging and land booming" that represents the "conqueror role" that humanity has played for most of its existence (269). The conqueror role presumes that the human species is entitled to use the earth in any way possible to achieve human ends. It is a mentality that leads to wanton destruction and misuse of land. Natural resources are depleted. Aldo also claims that the "conqueror role" precludes human beings from envisioning the aesthetic or practical functions of wilderness. Wetlands and marshes are particularly vulnerable, for as Aldo points out, even some environmentalists do not recognize their core value in the ecosystem. I agree fully with Leopold's assessment. For one, I appreciate the author's affection for marshland birds and other flora and fauna. Second, I have also witnessed the fact that the earth is filled with "dustbowls" and "rivers washing the future into the sea," (276). Finally, I agree with Aldo that there needs to be an ethic of conservation if human beings are to return to sanity. The "ethical sequence" forms the crux of Aldo's argument in "American Earth." Since Aldo wrote "American Earth," a land ethic has emerged in the consciousness of European culture and North American culture, to a degree. However, I still concur with Aldo's assessment, "there is as yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it," (277). So long as land is viewed solely as property and a means to prosper capitalists, there will be an imbalanced master-slave relationship between human beings and land. Aldo is correct to frame the conqueror relationship using the analogy of Odysseus and the slave girls, who he can kill because they are legal property.
Such a situation would be unheard of in North America today, but with land, problems still remain. The land-relation is "still strictly economic," which is why there needs to be parks and reserves set aside (277).

2. All creatures strive for peace in their time, because all creatures on some level seek harmony. This statement refers to the unity between all sentient beings and presents an image that we can strive to reach. The concept of an animal seeking peace is a strange one for a human to comprehend, because animals do not think the same way as human beings. However, peace for an animal might mean something entirely different. For an animal, peace means mainly the organic unfolding of natural phenomena that enable the survival of its species.

Aldo's environmental ethic is one of "community instinct in the making" (278). This means that peace in our time entails peace between animals and human beings to enable both to live in harmony. It means ceasing the war waged on the earth, which is depleting resources and also destroying the homes and communities in which animals dwell. Just as the human being has had to learn to live with….....

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