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Why We Need Aldo Leopold’s ‘Land Ethic’ Now More Than Ever

Why We Need Aldo Leopold’s ‘Land Ethic’ Now More Than Ever

In the broad arc of Western conservation history, the land ethic represented a move away from viewing land as a commodity to be exploited and toward something more aligned with Indigenous views on intergenerational obligations and human kinship with other species. I believe it may contribute to further progress in realizing an ethic of responsibility and reciprocity among people, and between people and land. Based on that understanding, he worked to advance an ethic of care that united humans’ need for justice and compassion toward one another and toward the living land. The land ethic as Leopold framed it was not elitist or exclusionary. Leopold composed “The Land Ethic” in the summer of 1947 as the clouds of World War II were still dissipating.