The Land Ethics – Aldo Leopold

http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/tex…Pull a quote out of the Land Ethic reading in the link above and comment on the quote as it relates to one of the sustainable topics. Below I attached 2 examples. Use examples to support your quote.Here are some sustainability topics you can choose from for the quote that you pick: Sustainability, Biogeochemical Cycles, Ecological Footprints, Unsustainability, Food Systems, Environmental Ethics. After you are done with your quote, choose one of the examples and write a feedback discussion.
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“Transportation brings about another basic change: the plants or animals grown in one
region are now consumed and returned to the soil in another. Transportation taps the
energy stored in rocks, and in the air, and uses it elsewhere; thus we fertilize the garden
with nitrogen gleaned by the guano birds from the fishes of seas on the other side of the
Equator. Thus the formerly localized and self-contained circuits are pooled on a worldwide scale. The process of altering the pyramid for human occupation releases stored
energy, and this often gives rise, during the pioneering period, to a deceptive
exuberance of plant and animal life, both wild and tame. These releases of biotic capital
tend to becloud or postpone the penalties of violence.” This quote goes back to both
our discussions on the carbon cycle and the negative effects transportation has on
it. Yes the transportation itself is horrible for the environment because of carbon
emission but also for its disruption of ecosystems. By bringing different plants/animals
to new ecosystems we have completely altered the intended dynamics of ecosystems
and have encouraged mass extinctions and disproportionality. Large industry tries to
reassure us this is not true by pointing out abundance in certain areas, which can only
mean lack thereof in other places.
Land-use ethics are still governed wholly by economic self-interest, just as social
ethics were a century ago” (Leopold 280).
The sustainable design theories and problems we have discussed throughout the semester are all based
on the notion that the Earth’s natural state is being altered by human progression. This is particularly
true of capitalist societies, such of the US, who value profits and the free-market as it encourages
producers to cut costs by any means necessary. That system, however, operates in a manner that is
directly opposed to the needs of Earth’s conservation. This issue has demonstrated itself throughout all
our sustainable design units, but became particularly noticeable in The Last Mountain, where big
coal corporations were exposed as destroying both the environment/landscape and human livelihood in
West Virginia. Their effects of their mountaintop removal process, disposal of toxic liquids into the land,
and other emissions of greenhouse gasses manifested themselves into the water and carbon cycles. As
the coal corporation excavated the land for coal, silt and other harmful chemicals were released into the
water stream, polluting the water, making it not potable for humans and wildlife. Furthermore, the coal
mining process changed the landscape so that previous rivers became dried up, which caused extreme
flooding in the valley communities. Similar disruption was seen in the carbon cycle as fossil fuels were
emitted at such high rates that they were unable to be effectively cleaned by the environment, making
the air toxic to the community. This environmental destruction was justified by President Bush’s change
in environmental legislation, making mountaintop removal legal: a move clearly motivated by economic
profit, as doing dirty work is quicker and cheaper (or at least makes a quicker return on investment) than
clean energy. Not only do these coal removal corporations operate under the motive of making the
most economic profit in the least amount of time regardless of how it impacts the environment, but
they also enabled those being hurt by its effects to rally around that motive. The corporation reminds
members of the community it’s in that their jobs and economy rely on the coal industry’s presence,
thereby getting community members to defend the corporation, even at the expense of their own
health and that of the environment. This exemplifies the motive of the United States, not in just the coal
industry, but also in the food industry and others alike: they are forced to operate under pressure of the
free-market that demands cost-cutting and jumping through loopholes, which almost always defies the
laws of nature. Although measures have been created to reach the same goals of these industries but at
a lesser cost to the environment, little movement has been made in the use of those processes as they
do not make immediate profit. In these decisions, we show that we value self-interest and gain over the
longevity of the environment, naming the economy as the compass of our land-ethics.

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