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According to Leopold, land ethics defines the relationship between individuals in the society and nature. It provides a foundation for the establishment of modern land conservation and occupation. Leopold asserts that ethics offers direction to individuals on how to relate in looking for attainment of mutual benefits among them. One of his philosophical ideologies is that the phrase that “community should include land”. Thus, people should show love, respect, and use land in a manner that benefits the society. Inclusion of land as part of the community implies that individuals play a crucial role in implementing sound policies that will enhance protection and conservation of the community.
Land ethics reflects the presence of an ecological conscience, which then mirrors the awareness of individual responsibilities to safeguard the state of land. According to Leopold’s philosophy, land ethics diverges from the traditional understanding. Traditionally, land ethics looks at the economical use of land, and does not look at the impact of the decision made to the environment. He argues that the economic well-being of individuals in the society is inseparable from the environmental health. Therefore, people should be careful in exploration of natural resources because their actions today may pose serious challenges in the future.
Land ethics as postulated by Leopold can be best understood if the meaning of ethics is made clear. Ethics refers to standards put in place to guard man’s action. These standards are very helpful to individuals in knowing what is good or bad. The central idea of Leopold in land ethics is that human beings should change their roles as conquerors of the community (which includes land) to members and citizens of the community. When individuals change this traditional perception, then they will respect the land as a fellow member; thus, regarding the community at large.
‘Land ethics’ as coined by Leopold significantly contrasts the traditional view. This is because traditional view does not recognize land as part of the community; but only recognizes a community as representing human beings. Traditional understanding of community is limited in scope and does not value other non–human living things such as trees, animals, soil, and water, among others. Failure to recognize land as part of the community has led to lack of incentives to conserve and preserve the natural environment. As a result, reliance on the traditional notion of land ethics propagates the tendency by individuals to disregard the environment. Consequently, Leopold’s view on land ethics contradicts the traditional view of property. This is because land is also a property when one assumes the traditional view. Hence, property owners have full discretion of using land, as they see fit. In this case, their actions may not be environmentally friendly since they are driven by profit-making motive. This explains why there has been massive degradation of the environment in favor of extraction of natural resources to increase the level of returns.
The Leopold’s view is very compelling to the society today where there are serious environmental concerns. Environmental issues are at the forefront as people’s activities are threatening the environmental well-being. For example, the world is at a verge crumbling due to global warming, which is associated with excessive deforestation. Drought is another environmental issue facing many nations. Prolonged drought stems from improper use of land. Thus, the Leopold’s view on land ethics will be a remedial to the environmental concerns in the world in the ways discussed below.
First, Leopold’s view offers an insight into the interdependency of human beings and nature. The survival of human beings depends on nature, and individuals should be keen when extracting natural resources. Leopold’s clarification on the idea of interdependency will help individuals to value the environment. It will further ensure that their actions do not lead to any environmental degradation. Therefore, Leopold’s view is vital in the modern society as a reminder to individuals that the environment is an essential component to their survival.
Secondly, Leopold’s view is a vital tool of mobilizing people to stage the fight against environmental degradation. This is because if mere economical view of land use becomes the only rationale, the society will fail to identify the weaknesses of its actions. This will lead to acceptance of some dangerous land use practices that pose serious challenges to future generation. However, Leopold’s view helps in clarifying the weaknesses that exist in the use of land, which will bring dangerous outcomes to life on earth. Leopold manages to explain that the world economic growth relies on environmental well-being. This forms a foundation from which activists can formulate a convincing strategy pertinent in mobilizing support for proper land use.
Finally, the land view as postulated by Leopold will help humanity respect land as a member of the community. This is essential because modern society does not respect the land and do not recognize the true value of the land. This results from lack of consciousness that the survival of future generation relies on today’s action on land use. Therefore, Leopold’s view on land ethics is essential in instituting suitable land use ethics. These new ethics will help in the creation of environmentally sensitive mind that will transform the society to improve its living standards.
In conclusion, Leopold’s land ethics gives an outstanding view on the importance of environmental preservation. The view has offered elementary support in the creation of modern environmental movements. Therefore, Leopold’s view forms a primary basis for the formulation of crucial policies aimed at preserving environmental heritage.
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