In his book, A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold explores conservation of natural resources. Leopold is trying to get across a salient message of conserving the natural resources particularly the sustainable use of land.
In the first twelve chapters of the book, Leopold describes how seasons and living things affect the environment; middle chapters deal with his expedition observations of the environment while the last chapters deal with land sustainability. He brings the concept of land ethics as the sustainable use of land because to him, “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise” (Leopold 269).
The land ethics involve all ecological factors that are necessary to perpetuate the life of living organisms sustainably in all generations. Conservation of natural resources is still relevant in the current world as envisaged by Aldo Leopold in his book, A Sandy County Almanac.
To make the reader understand the concept of environment and necessity to conserve it, Leopold describes seasonal variation in terms of months through environmental changes, which occur throughout the year. The descriptions take the reader into a deep thought in a bid to understand the complex environmental changes and factors that affect it. The wide descriptions and expeditions make him realize the importance of conserving environment and he convincingly advises the Americans to conserve the environment. He unravels the intricate link between man and environment as he argues that, “conservation is a state of harmony between men and land” (Leopold 271).
The harmonious coexistence of living things in the environment signifies healthy living for the present and coming generation. He further argues human freedom and health depends on the availability of safe environment where plants can vigorously grow and animals enjoy their fruits. These recommendations are still valid and relevant in the current society. Aldo Leopold ideas form the basis of modern ecological studies. What raises much of his concern about the environment is the way people seemed to act in utter ignorance as they constantly destroy environment. In his efforts, he seeks to educate people on the dangers of destroying the natural resources without considering the future generation. He wants to “change the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it” (Leopold 75).
Due to the current pressing issues of the environment such as global warming, changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, emerging diseases and diminishing species, the whole world has come to the realization of the need to conserve natural resources for the benefit of humanity. World bodies such the United Nations are putting measures that will mitigate impending calamities due to destruction of the environment. These current efforts reflect the work of Aldo Leopold, in his book, A Sandy County Almanac.
For the current and the forthcoming generation to survive, conservation of natural resources for sustainability is quite urgent. Conceived that the natural resources are essential component for the survival of humanity in this world, Aldo Leopold goes ahead to highlight the effects of seasons and wanton destructive activities. He observes that people ironically love the environment because if they love it, “…certainly not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter down the river, certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function except to turn turbines, float barges, and carry off sewage, …” (Leopold 267). Failing to appreciate the importance of natural resources and the deliberate destruction of the environment costs the modern world immense resources as it tries to remedy and mitigate the looming disasters and calamities emerging from poor environmental use. Aldo recommendations concerning the need to conserve environment are valid, and will still stand the test of time.
The Land Ethics
The land ethics sum up conservation of all natural resources for sustainable development and the benefit to humanity. Since there is a natural competition in an ecosystem, humanity has defied all odds, acting in an unnatural manner to destroy helpless species of plants and animals in order to satisfy its needs.
This is very evident in the modern world where urgent economic benefits override long-term environmental benefits. When Aldo takes ample time to describe his expeditions and seasons throughout the year, he implies to give an in-depth view of the wanton destruction of the environment is order to convince people to see the need of land ethics. He argues that, “land ethics changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to the plain member of it … implies respect for his fellow members, and also for the community as such” (Leopold 75). Land ethics involves respecting the natural existence of environment and striving for its sustainable utilization and preservation.
Modern environmental exploitation due to economic urgency at the expense of the invaluable environmental conservation is self-defeating because eventually, consequences of environmental degradation are very grave. Moreover, the resulting disasters and calamities will demand more resources in the mitigation process. Leopold argues that, “…one basic weakness in a conservation system based on wholly on economic motives is that most members of the land community have no economic value” (276). For example, songbirds seem to have no economic value, but their absence in the environment has profound effects since insect population would tremendously increase and become a nuisance to the humanity as in the case that happened in Wisconsin. Currently, world’s governments have shifted from conserving environment for urgent economic benefits and have acknowledged conservation of the environment for aesthetic and sustainable development. Comparative studies on the current ecological studies and the work of Aldo Leopold show significant positive correlation meaning that his work is applicable in conservation of natural resources in the modern world.
Survival of Humanity
The environmentmakes the basic source of human survival, thus its conservation does not only assure the future generation of better lives but also gives hope to the perpetuation of humanity.
Consequently, environment conservation should not focus only on urgent economic goals, but must consider the need of sustainability for posterity. Failure to conserve environment, even slightest negligence would have a magnified effects to the humanity. “Each substitution of a tame plant or animal for a wild one, or an artificial waterway for a natural one, is accompanied by a readjustment in the circulating system of the land” (Leopold 197). Environmental adjustments are very subtle for they happen slowly leading to tragic results. Ironically, people do not seek to mitigate impeding disasters; on the contrary, they love lamenting after the disaster strikes despite the fact that they could point out the impeding disaster resulting from their reckless habits. This is the scenario surrounding the wanton environmental destruction perpetuated by humanity. The recommendations in the A Sand County Almanac are invaluable in the modern society, which is grappling with environmental issues such as global warming, species extinction, rising sea levels, emerging diseases, droughts amongst other regional issues. For humankinds to survive in this world, environmental conservation is essential, and every individual should play an active role in conserving the environment.
“The ordinary citizen today assumes that science knows what makes the community clock tick; the scientist is equally sure that he does not, for he knows that the biotic mechanism is so complex that its workings may never be fully understood…”(Leopold 268). Due to the complexity of the ecological interactions and subtle effects of the environmental on humankind, concerted efforts are necessary in order to mitigate environmental disasters and calamities. Proper implementation of the recommendations in the A Sand County Almanac in the current world would lead to remarkable conservation of environment for sustainability and posterity.
A Sand County Almanac is a book outlining an in-depth view of the issues regarding environment in a bid to enhance its conservation. Though human beings dominate the environment, they fail to realize the intricacies of the ecosystem because of their economic pursuits. Aldo Leopold criticizes environmental scientists who claim to conserve the environment yet they only exploit the economical benefits of the same.
In the major theme of land ethics, Aldo observes that, the conservation and sustainable use of environmental resources would enhance the current and the generation to come. Therefore, Aldo Leopold arguments and recommendations are very relevant in the modern world, as they form the basis of ecological studies.
Leopold, Aldo. A Sand County Almanac. New York: Ballantine Books, 1970. Print