The Land Ethic

Our first reading was Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic. This reading set a very dull tone to me for Colloquium. How was what seemed to me a simple topic of being green and eco-friendly, turned into what I could only describe as environmental philosophy? On the surface, philosophy is interesting to me. I enjoy being stumped and directed to see something in a different light, but once you start going into unimaginable depths, my attention is lost. Well what could I do? I was being forced to read The Land Ethic by Aldo Leopold.

At first all I got out of it was blah, blah, blah. Somewhere in the midst of the reading it became evident to me how selfish we have been as human beings. As humans, if we feel as though when we are being wronged, we speak up. As for animals? I’d like to say for the most part most people know what is considered cruel treatment for animals. However, if not, we have animal activists to speak up, but what about Mother Nature? What if Mother Nature could speak for herself?

I didn’t even realize how long ago she would have been fighting our decisions. In The Land Ethic, Leopold gives examples of where farmers and individuals preserve the land community only if they were shown how the consequences directly affected them. It seems that humans have outgrown natural land products for cheaper and more readily available products.

In the lobby of the Corkscrew Sanctuary, it demonstrated Florida pre settlement, settlement, then plans for the future. It displayed how in pre settlement Lake Okeechobee naturally flowed south providing water for the entire southern part of Florida. After the Calusa Indians settled and started to change things to benefit themselves, it all went downhill. The more humans settled and tried to control water flow, nature eventually fought back. For example, there was an earthen dike set up around Lake Okeechobee in the early 1900s, but in 1926 and 1928, two hurricanes killed thousands. Our response? To make a bigger dike called the Herbert Hoover Dike. If we have to start building protection for ourselves from things we caused, clearly we did something wrong!

Fast forward to when southern Florida has I75 and US41- water flow is stopped even more.
Don’t get me wrong, I love taking these roads to get to Miami for the beaches, Tampa for baseball games, and Key West for a great time that I will hardly remember, but The Land Ethic demonstrated to me to at what cost to Mother Nature those luxuries came. It also pointed out to me how much humans are driven by self interest. I would’ve like to think of myself as giving and unselfish, but its hard to see myself as a human being as anything but selfish.


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