Blog Posts on Aldo Leopold, “The Land Ethic” and “Think Like a Mountain”

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40 thoughts on “Blog Posts on Aldo Leopold, “The Land Ethic” and “Think Like a Mountain”

  1. I really enjoyed these essays because they went along with our readings and the ideas we go over in class so well. Some people believe the land ethic to be a finale to a “Sand County Almanac” because it defined a new relationship between people and nature and set the stage for the modern conservation movement. I believe he did this by simply enlarging the idea of the community to include waters, soil, plants, and animals, or collectively the land. To introduce this idea Leopold says, ” Land like Odysseus’ slave girls, is still property. The land-relation is still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.” This is much similar to what Sanders had to say in settling down. In fact, Leopold even quotes Sanders because of the relation. He then goes further into this idea by saying, “that land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics.” This is just saying that people play an important role in preserving the extended definition of a community. I Think Leopold has very striking ideas when it comes to the ever changing community/society which has made him one of the most important conservationist today. These are the ideas that led him to create the country’s first Wilderness area in the forest service system.I believe we could use more conservationists, like Aldo, in today’s society.

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    • 5 points. Leopold’s idea of thinking about land as part of the community is much more widespread today than it was when he wrote the essay, but the fullness of his idea of “loving” the land–to the extent he’s talking about–still has a long way to go in our society.

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  2. In the very ending paragraph of Thinking Like a Mountain by Aldo Leopold he says, “We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness.” To me this like we all want to achieve greatness in our lives. Throughout the whole passage it just talks about how everything inter depends on each other. Also from Leopold’s other readings you can tell that he is a conservationist. Like when Leopold says, “Despite nearly a century of propaganda, conservation still proceeds at a snail’s pace” This means that although we are moving towards conserving the Earth we are still moving at an extremely slow speed and it needs to start moving faster.

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  3. The Land Ethic stressed the importance of extending the community. It is not only about the
    people of the community but also about the nature including the soil, water, and plants. Leopold discusses two kinds of people the first being people who see nature only as exchange value and the second being people who see nature as even with humans. Leopold argues that we as people need to respect nature and treat as an equal member of the community. For we are all connected and depend on each other for survival. Leopold explains how we do need to use the land but we need to respect the land also. It is necessary to have a relationship with nature that is an ethical and moral obligation.

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    • 5 points. Even today, over 60 years after “The Land Ethic” was published, the only environmental arguments that some people listen to are those that calculate the economic value of some aspect of nature. Leopold said that was just wrong thinking.

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  4. Aldo Leopold is a landmark conservationist whether anyone likes him or not. He was able to discern two different groups of people in regards to their thoughts about nature. One of these groups that Leopold identified with favors the idea of prioritizing nature more closely with the progress of humans. This is an idea that values our environment flourishing just as much as our material economy. The idea of sustainability begins swirling in my head with this notion. This group sees nature on a more level playing field with humans whereas the other group that Leopold identifies views nature as something to be commoditized more for the benefit of humans rather than an equal growth for both of these parties.

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    • 5 points. Interdependence is key for Leopold’s vision of what we now call sustainability. The economic argument, even if one claims that suggests a kind of interdependence between humans and nature, is way, way too limited.

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  5. Aldo Leopold uses his article The Land Ethic to broaden our perspectives of community and its purpose. He gives his view of there being two types of people, one is only helps the environment to help himself while the other uses the environment to help others. All to often we have no ethical obligation toward the land, but without it we would have no real sense of community. Its the layers that make the foundation strong. It is made up of interceding parts that should be treated the same as another human being. We usually fail to see this and then fail to appreciate all it has to offer. A system of conservation that is based on economic self interest won’t succeed. A functioning society is dependent on the competition of its diverse parts. Aldo Stresses the need to learn to love nature or be seen as economic property. I agree with how he presents this argument; everything in land should be found valuable, not just aspects of economic gain. Land is a piece of progress for a community to grow in nature. Leopold shows that to often we give the government all the necessary jobs instead of taking responsibility in its ownership. He states that, ‘it is inconceivable that a land can exist without love, respect, admiration for the land, and high regard for its value.’ We are to love the land and nature around us more than the economic value it can offer. We need to learn to appreciate what is around us in order to really gain a relationship that builds a foundation upon the land we stand on.

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  6. After we viewed the film about Aldo Leopold and his land ethic,I got more understanding about his idea “nature is our people”.I think his behavior that record different nature events was very inspiring for me.Since I don’t have much experience that lived in countryside and village,I will plan to move back to my hometown in summer vacation for one month,record different weather’s influence for animals could be fun and challenging.At the same time,I understand his family’s support played a significant role for him to become a conservationist. As a result,he developed strong responsibility for the world and kept positive effect for protection of nature until now.In his essay “Thinking like a mountain”,I think his observation and his unique perspective among human,wolves and mountain can be a great method to help us think about our relationship and perspective with other people.We should protect our environment by our enthusiasm which may caused by our perspective like Leopold’s philosophy about nature and planet.

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  7. Leopold mentions groups A and B, and how their perception of the land is different. Group A thinks that it is O.K. to have crops of trees, and treat them as a commodity. On the other hand, group B thinks that forestry is different from agronomy because it creates an environment that becomes home to many natural species. After reading this I realized that both groups are very active in Brazil. With the increase in the need of toilet paper in China, Brazil became one of the biggest exporter of paper cellulose, and it is impossible not to see many pine plantations around my hometown. What ends up happening is that trees take around 5/6 years to grow to the size industries want, and during this time many animals from surrounding forests make of these environment their homes. However, what is sad about it is that when the many trees are cut down, animals don’t have anywhere to go, and end up going to the cities or try to cross the highway, where most get hit by cars and get killed. It would be a great to see a change on this process (group A), since it seems not beneficial for both parties, but just for one. I believe that it is impossible to avoid animals to make their homes at a new natural territory, and what seems to happen is that the land owners don’t care about the wildlife that lives there. For group B, for when a dam is created, there are laws that require the government to plant even more trees that were drawn with the flood, and before it happens, they relocate most animals to different territories. It is a less disrespectful action to their destruction, but is still better than group A, who just regards the land exploration. It would be great to see a change happening primarily with group A, since it is disrespectful to nature.

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    • 5 points. What you describe is seeing the environment/nature as an “externality” in an economy–the consequences of the “resource’s” use are not figured into any calculation of value.

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  8. Aldo Leopold talks about community and its connection with the earth and nature. Aldo described two kinds of people. The first kind are the people that see nature as an equal counterpart and treat it with such care that one would provide for only another human. The second type of people are the people that see nature as nothing but an extraction of resources. A perfect example of this in contemporary society is the use of exotic resources versus fake sources. Examples include: leather and pleather, wood and faux wood, natural oil and synthetic oil, etc. Some people go as far as to glorify the exdtraction of precious resources as people choose to wear things such as alligator skin shoes. The main issue with the resources users is that that they are the last step in the progressive production. After usage, these items go to the trash or end up in a landfill. Obviously, these are all very literal examples drawn from an abstract concept. Overall this article was very relatable as I try to move from type B to type A all the time.

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    • 5 points. What you’re describing is the industrial (rather than ecological) mindset–Wendell Berry talks about how the outcome of the industrial mindset is waste (rather than renewal), which is just what you describe here.

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  9. In Aldo Leopold’s essay, “The Land Ethic,” he explains that we have not given the earth the respect it deserves. He writes that humanity has viewed the land as “strictly economic” and that we do not take care of it as we should. Leopold believes that we are ethically and morally obligated to take care of our surrounding resources. He wants us to treat the earth and land as an equal member of the community, as if it were a person. Leopold also writes that there are two different people when it comes to the land. The first group includes those that see the earth as strictly economic. They use it for no other reason except for personal gain. The other group of people is full of those who see the land equal to humans. They treat it with the same respect they would treat a human being.

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  10. Aldo Leopold talks of respecting the earth in his essay, “The Land Ethic”. He talks of how we have forgotten about the nature that surrounds our community and how we need to combine the two again. We have to take care of the earth in order for it to give back to us. If we do not pay attention to the nature that surrounds our homes we cannot become truly rooted as a human. Just as we give back to the institutions within our community we have to give back just as much to the land within our community. When land is viewed as a tool for economic growth than we are disrespecting nature. He talks of how we have to treat the land like we treat other humans. Though I find this comment quite strange it has a good message. I know that people don’t treat each other very well but Aldo is saying that we need to sacrifice our wants and needs in order to keep the land alive and giving. If you just take, take, take than we will run out of resources and soon we will ask ourselves why we never did anything about our impulsive inconsiderate ways.

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    • 5 points. Both Linda Hogan and Winona LaDuke talk about a traditional indigenous understanding of the earth as a “living world” (Hogan’s words). Without that understanding, the economic exploitation of nature we have perpetrated becomes much “easier.” With that understanding, the idea to treat nature with the same respect as people isn’t strange at all.

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  11. After watching the film and reviewing Aldo Leopold’s The Land Ethic, it was a lot easier for me to understand what the real nature is. As a conservationist, he did a maginificent job on recording all the events that occurred in different seasons. I realized that living close to the nature makes it easy for us to simply forget the importance of it. I also realized that nature around us makes who we are right now. Because of the importance of it, the actual nature is easily forgotten but Leo Pold did a great job on making us realize about the importance again. To me, as a guy who only grew up in a big city, taking care of all the nature, recording all the seasonal events, and making people realize the importance of the nature are someoneelse’s job. However, I also realized that it can be anybody’s job to take care of the nature because it is always around everyone even in the big city. I also like the terminology, The Land Ethic. I have never seen the word ‘ethic’ goes with the land before. I usually think the word ‘ethic’ is a responsibility or job each person has to do without any compensation. My own definition of ehtic is well applied. The nature is something all of us has to take care of without expecting any compensation. I think it is the time that we should compensate the nature for what we have been receiving from it.

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    • 5 points. You’re right that nature is everywhere, even in cities! In some ways, taking care of nature is even more important cities where there is a higher concentration of people potentially doing even more harm to the environment.

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  12. In Aldo Leopold’s essay “The Land Ethic” he talks a lot about nature. One of the biggest things about nature, that he talks about, is that we should respect it. He talks about the nature within our community, and that we do not look at it the way that we should. We look at the land in nature as an opportunity to spread and grow our economy. He talks about how there are two different types of groups in our world. One of the groups that he mentions is who he calls “group A”, and the people in group A view the land as an economic opportunity. They do not care if they have to cut down trees and destroy nature, as long as they gain profit from it, it is okay with them. The second group that he mentions is “group B”. The people in group B feels the complete opposite way. They believe that nature should not be taken down for economical reasons. They believe that nature should be viewed as an equal member of society. I believe that we should stop destroying nature because those are valuable resources that we need, and if we destroy it, we will no longer have them anymore.

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    • 5 points. Leopold’s “land ethic” goes even a step farther–we shouldn’t destroy nature simply because we would lose its resources, but more importantly because not harming nature is just the ethical thing to do.

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  13. The Land Ethic talks about the importance to broaden our view of community and the things it is meant to achieve. He combines in the topic of nature and the general idea of how we need to respect it and treat it as to be equal to humans. He then continues on to talk about how we need to combine the two, community and nature, and treat them with the same characteristics on equal levels. To continue on the idea of community and the things it is mean to achieve, there is a quote in the ready that sort of ties along with it, “We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness.” The reason I think they are similar because it describes something or someone who desires to accomplish something bigger than what is expected.

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  14. This weeks readings were really centered on strengthening the community in our world today. Leopold focuses on the two different types of people that we have in our communities and the different way that they both view the resources that we are provided with. The first type of person is one that sees the goods of the earth as a trade for money, a materialistic way of viewing it. The other type is people who actually appreciate the land and soil and they value the earth equally as much as they value human life. In order to develop a better sense of community in society today, we need to try to be more appreciative the second type of people. Leopold describes the way we view the land today as “strictly economic” which is an insult because we do not want to be seen as disrespectful. So, instead of being focused on economics, we should work on respecting the land the way it deserves to be respected.

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  15. After watching the film, Green Fire, I found the lifestyle that Leopold lived even more astonishing. He has put great emphasis on how to learn and love nature. For example, in his article, “The Land Ethic”, Leopold talks about two groups, groups A and B. Group A, uses nature gift for commodity, whereas Group B, doesn’t, they believe that while we destroy nature we are destroying someone home or species – Group B is all about respecting nature and looking at it at more broader way. This may sound off, but if we were to apply this in today’s society, would we vegans/vegetarians be affiliated to Group B and omnivores with Group A? I thought it would make a little a sense since vegans/vegetarians don’t eat meat or animal products, therefore they’re respecting an aspect of nature. On the other hand, omnivores don’t – we not only eat animals but we buy it off the markets and at restaurants – specifically fast food. Overall though, it’s really fascinating to read what he wrote and the kind of lifestyle he lived, and how up until today Leopold inspires so many people other to live more freely, and love nature – to not just take advantage of what it offers but being able to offer something back, like nurture.

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    • 5 points. The vegetarian/vegan vs. omnivore idea is an intriguing one, but I don’t know that Leopold would agree that you could align those groups with Groups A and B. Leopold himself was a very avid hunter and certainly saw nothing wrong with eating meat. Certainly, though, HOW we produce meat today–and for that matter any industrial food product, including vegetarian and vegan foods–has a lot to do with whether we’re Group A or B people.

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  16. I think Leopold makes a lot of good points throughout this piece, the one that stood out to me most was when he talked about how we only see nature as an economic benefit. I don’t think he could be any more right when he says this, as we become more and more technologically developed we continue to destroy nature as we used to know it. Businesses tearing down forests/other habitats to build on and urbanize, resources being wasted, etc. I think we as humans sometimes lose sight of what really makes us who we are as we become crazed by what profit could be achieved. When he talks about 2 different people when it comes to nature and the direction that it is headed, it really made me think about how we will probably regret these decisions we’re making now down the road.

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    • 5 points. Even though Leopold wrote this over 65 years ago, the insistence on seeing nature as an economic benefit persists, both among those who want to exploit AND often those who want to defend it.

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  17. When I read Aldo Leopold’s “The Land Ethic,” I felt a sense of bewilderment as to why people don’t spend as much time fighting for or taking care of the land that they live on and use in order to survive. When he talked about the Native American tribes and their lives on the land it made me realize just how much better their style of living was compared to modern day. The religious practices they followed with the care of Mother Earth allowed for them to fully understand how dependent they were on the land. I think Leopold’s land ethic is a modern day version of spirituality based on loving the land we live on. He makes great points as to the necessity to keep the land healthy and clean and how that creates a healthier environment for us to live on. He really helps to create the conservation movement yet I believe that the movement could also be traced back to the Native Americans. Leopold talks about the government stepping in when private citizens fail to help the area or they endanger the environment that others rely on. To me, one way that they could help to solve this problem would be to hold natural resources and the land that can and should be used by all in commons rather than private individuals. If someone is held accountable to the rest of the population that lives there then they would hopefully be more inclined to take part in the conservation movement.

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    • 5 points. It’s interesting that you put Leopold’s land ethic in religious terms. I doubt that he would have been entirely comfortable with that idea, but I think a lot of people today *do* think of the principle in near-spiritual terms.

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  18. The reading Thinking Like A Mountain that we had to do for class was probably one of my favorite readings so far. I really enjoyed how it was more of a story than just someone stating their options. Aldo Leopold says, “Those unable to decipher the hidden meaning know nevertheless that it is there, for it is felt in all wolf country, and distinguishes that country from all other land” during this essay he is explaining what it would be like to be a mountain. A mountain is one of the oldest objects on Earth, it is so tall that it can overlook many things, and also that it never dies. Aldo gives the mountain God like qualities and it does make sense to do such a thing. A mountain is forced to take in nature considering nature lives all over it and near it.How great it would be to be a mountain over looking everything in its shadow.

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  19. I really liked Aldo Leopold essay “Think like a Mountain”. I found Aldo Leopold’s form of writing very captivating and informative at the same time. The way he explains his ideas using the story of him and the wolf really show the essence of his beliefs. His encounter with the wolf reminds me a lot of my very first encounter with a snake. When I was around eight I was terrified of snakes. One day after playing outside the apartment building in Cincinnati Ohio, where my family used to live, I was about to walk up the stairs when I notice a Gardner snake blocking my way. So as any rational eight year old would do I started to scream and cry for my life. My dad had heard me and ran down the stairs to see what was happening. He noticed the snake instantly and instead of killing it, like I expected him too, he gently grabbed it by its neck and walked it to the woods next to the apartments. My dad had grown up on a farm and had seen a great deal of snakes during his childhood. Later that night he explained to me the importance of all living things. He didn’t explain it as a balance like Leopold did but instead said that every living creature was created by god, so we have to respect all of them.

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  20. This week, I found the article called The Land Ethic really interesting to read. It mainly talks about the significance of land and nature and the importance of conserving it. Leopold says, “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” Aldo Leopold divided people into two types: ones who see land as something that can be used for an economic advantage, and the other type who view land as something part of the community. Considering land as part of the community does humans and the land good because we would be respecting the land and nature rather than destroying it. Leopold talks about how it is ethically our duty to take care of the land because if we keep doing what we are doing, we will eventually run out of everything land gives us just because we didn’t appreciate it like we should have. Everything land and nature offer us, humans, is valuable, whatever it is. I do agree with Leopold and we should embrace land and love it for far more than just the economic benefits it gives us. We should pay more attention to conservation, even though it may be hard, and make sure we find that special connection between the human community and land that makes us one.

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