Happy Birthday Aldo Leopold

“There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot.” ~Aldo Leopold

One of the books currently on my nightstand, A Sand County Almanac, was written by Aldo Leopold, who was born in Iowa on January 11th, 1887. Sunday was his birthday.

Aldo was a man that really knew how to look closer…

He was an author, educator, scientist, forester, and pioneer environmentalist. Considered the father of wildlife conservation, his book is a basis for modern conservation science, policy, and ethics. It is a significant work, right up there with Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and Thoreau’s Walden.

Leopold was a prolific writer, mainly for professional journals, technical books, and magazines, but in the late 1930’s he became determined to reach the general public with his writings. He began to re-write his essays to inform people of how the natural world worked, and to inspire them to protect it. In 1948, just after Oxford University Press agreed to publish the collection, Leopold died of a heart attack while helping a neighbor fight a brush fire. With help from his family and colleagues, one year later, in 1949, A Sand County Almanac was published.

The set of essays, in three parts, chronicles a year of nature observations, a section of life experiences, a group of philosophical writings, and ends with his famous “Land Ethic” essay. It defined a new relationship between people and nature.

“We can be ethical only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.” ~Aldo Leopold

Leopold understood that ethics direct individuals to cooperate with each other for the mutual benefit of the community. He asserted that the collective community should include non-human elements such as soils, waters, plants, and animals…“the land”.  He wrote “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.

For more info, check out: http://www.aldoleopold.org/home.shtml

~Elizabeth

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