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(solution) A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC WITH OTHER ESSAYS ON CONSERVATION FROM


Write 1500 words from scratch about how chapter 8 from Rachel Carsons Sustainability witch talks about sustainable energy systems (attached) relates to Aldo Leopolds land ethic in the Sand County Almanac (attached). 

12 point font, double-spaced, and formatted in the MLA Style. Research must be included in the bibliography. References must be supplied for all quotations and also for any idea, insights, or viewpoints you incorporate from reading the work of others.  In-text citations require the page number of the text or paragraph number of the website.  The reader must be able to look up the exact place in the text or website cited! Also I have attached a proposal i wrote for this paper. You do not need to use it. It is just to help give you an idea about the subjects. However if you do want to use any of it you can.



A SAND

 

COUNTY

 

ALMANAC

 

WITH OTHER ESSAYS ON CONSERVATION FROM Round River ALDO LEOPOLD

 

ILLuSTRATED BY CHARLES W. ScHWARTZ NewYork ? OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS ? 1966 The Land Ethic When god-like Odysseus returned from the wars in Troy,

 

he hanged all on one rope a dozen slave-girls of his household whom he suspected of misbehavior during his absence.

 

This hanging involved no question of propriety. The girls

 

were property. The disposal of property was then, as now, a

 

matter of expediency, not of right and wrong.

 

Concepts of right and wrong were not lacking from Odysseus' Greece: witness the fidelity of his wife through the long

 

years before at last his black-prowed galleys clove the winedark seas for home. The ethical structure of that day covered

 

wives, but had not yet been extended to human chattels.

 

During the three thousand years which have since elapsed,

 

ethical criteria have been extended to many fields of conduct, with corresponding shrinkages in those judged by expediency only.

 

The Ethical Sequence This extension of ethics, so far studied only by philosophers,

 

is actually a process in ecological evolution. Its sequences

 

may be described in ecological as well as in philosophical

 

terms. An ethic, ecologically, is a limitation on freedom of

 

[ 217 J TilE UPSHOT action in the struggle for existence. An ethic, philosophically,

 

is a differentiation of social from anti-social conduct. These

 

are two definitions of one thing. The thing has its origin in

 

the tendency of interdependent individuals or groups to

 

evolve modes of co-operation. The ecologist calls these symbioses. Politics and economics are advanced symbioses in

 

which the original free-for-all competition has been replaced,

 

in part, by co-operative mechan isms with an ethical content.

 

The complexity of co-operative mechanisms has increased

 

with population density, and with the efficiency of tools. It

 

was simpler, for example, to define the anti-social uses of

 

sticks and stones in the days of the mastodons than of bullets

 

and billboards in the age of motors.

 

The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals; the Mosaic Decalogue is an example. Later accretions

 

dealt with the relation between the individual and society.

 

The Golden Rule tries to integrate the individual to society;

 

democracy to integrate social organization to the individual.

 

There is as yet no ethic dealing with man's relation to land

 

and to the animals and plants which grow upon it. Land, like

 

Odysseus' slave-girls, is still property. The land-relation is

 

still strictly economic, entailing privileges but not obligations.

 

The extension of ethics to this third element in human

 

environment is, if I read the evidence correctly, an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity. It is the third

 

step in a sequence. The first two have already been taken.

 

Individual thinkers since the days of Ezekiel and Isaiah have

 

asserted that the despoliation of land is not only inexpedient

 

but wrong. Society, however, has not yet affirmed their belief. I regard the present conservation movement as the embryo of such an affirmation.

 

An ethic may be regarded as a mode of guidance for meet[ 218] 1'f{E L-AND ETHIC ing ecological situations so new or intricate, or involving such

 

deferred reactions, that the path of social expediency is not

 

discernible to the average individual. Animal instincts are

 

modes of guidance for the individual in meeting such situations. Ethics are possibly a kind of community instinct inthe-making.

 

The Community Concept

 

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the

 

individual is a member of a community of interdependent

 

parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in

 

that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate

 

(perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).

 

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land.

 

This sounds simple: do we not already sing our love for

 

and obligation to the land of the free and the home of the

 

brave? Yes, but just what and whom do we love? Certainly

 

not the soil, which we are sending helter-skelter downriver.

 

Certainly not the waters, which we assume have no function

 

except to turn turbines, Boat barges, and carry off sewage.

 

Certainly not the plants, of which we exterminate whole

 

communities without batting an eye. Certainly not the animals, of which we have already extirpated many of the

 

largest and most beautiful species. A land ethic of course

 

cannot prevent the alteration, management, and use of these

 

'resources,' but it does affirm their right to continued existence, and, at least in spots, their continued existence in a

 

natural state.

 

In short, a land e thic changes the role of 1lomo sapiens

 

[ 219] 11lE UP SHOT from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and

 

citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-m embers, and

 

also respect for the community as such.

 

In human history, we have learned (I hope) that the conqueror role is eventually self-defeating. Why? Because it is

 

implicit in such a role that the conqueror knows , ex cathedra,

 

just what makes the community clock tick, and just what and

 

who is valuable, and what and who is worthless, in community life. It always turns out that he knows neither, and this

 

is why his conquests eventually defeat themselves.

 

In the biotic community, a parallel situation exists. Abraham knew exactly what the land was for: it was to drip milk

 

and honey into Abraham's mouth. At the present moment,

 

the assurance with which we regard this assumption is inverse to the degree of our education.

 

The ordinary citizen today assumes that science knows

 

what makes the community clock tick; the scientist is equally

 

sure that he does not. He knows that the biotic mechanism

 

is so complex that its workings may never be fully understood.

 

That man is, in fact, only a member of a biotic team is

 

shown by an ecological interpretation of history. Many historical events, hitherto explained solely in terms of human

 

enterprise, were actually biotic interactions between people

 

and land. The characteristics of the land determined the facts

 

quite as potently as the characteristics of the men who lived

 

on it.

 

Consider, for example, the settlement of the Mississippi

 

valley. In the years following the Revolution, three groups

 

were contending for its control: the native Indian, the

 

French and English traders, and the American settlers. Historians wonder what would have happened if the English at

 

[ 220] ------------- Tl!E LAND ETIUC Detroit had thrown a little more weight into the Indian side

 

of those tipsy scales which decided the outcome of the colonial migration into the cane-lands of Kentucky. It is time

 

now to ponder the fact that the cane-lands, when subjected

 

to the particular mixture of forces represented by the cow,

 

j>

 

low, fire, and axe of the pioneer, became blue~rass. What if

 

the plant succession inherent in this dark and bloody ground

 

had, under the impact of these forces, given us some worthless sedge, shrub, or weed? Would Boone and Kenton have

 

l1eld out? Would there have been any overflow into Ohio,

 

Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri? Any Louisiana Purchase?

 

Any transcontinental union of new states? Any Civil War?

 

Kentucky was one sentence in the drama of history. We

 

are commonlv told what the human actors in this drama tried

 

'

 

to do, but we are seldom told that their success, or the lack of

 

it, hung in large degree on ti1e reaction of particular soils to

 

the impact of the particular forces exerted by their occupancy. In the case of Kentucky, we do not even know where

 

the bluegrass came from -whether it is a native species, or a

 

stowaway from Europe.

 

Contrast the cane-lands with what hindsight tells us about

 

the Southwest, where the pioneers were equally brave, resourceful, and persevering. The impact of occupancy here

 

brought no bluegrass, or other plant fitted to withstand the

 

bumps and buHetings of hard use. This region, when grazed

 

by livestock, reverted through a series of more and more

 

worthless grasses, shrubs, and weeds to a condition of unstable equilibrium. Each recession of plant types bred erosion; each increment to erosion bred a further recession of

 

plants. The result today is a progressive and mutual deterioration, not only of plants and soils, but of the animal community subsisting thereon. The early settlers did not expect

 

[ 221 1 THE UPSHOT this: on the cienegas of New Mexico some even cut ditches

 

to hasten it. So subtle has been its progress that few residents

 

of the region are aware of it. It is quite invisible to the tourist who finds this wrecked landscape colorful and charming

 

(as indeed it is, but it bears scant resemblance to what it

 

was in 1848).

 

This same landscape was ·developed' once before, but with

 

quite different results. The Pueblo Indians settled the Southwest in pre-Columbian times, but they happened not to be

 

equipped with range livestock. Their civilization expired,

 

but not because their land expired.

 

In India, regions devoid of any sod-forming grass have

 

been settled, apparently without wrecking the land, by the

 

simple expedient of carrying the grass to the cow, rather than

 

vice versa. (Was tl1is the result of some deep wisdom, or was

 

it just good luck? I do not know.)

 

In short, the plant succession steered the course of history;

 

the pioneer simply demonstrated, for good or ill, what successions inhered in the land. Is history taught in this spirit?

 

It will be, once the concept of land as a community really

 

penetrates our intellectual life.

 

The Ecological Conscience

 

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.

 

Despite nearly a century of propaganda, conservation still

 

proceeds at a snail's pace; progress still consists largely of

 

letterhead pieties and convention oratory. On the back forty

 

we still slip two steps backward for each forward stride.

 

The usual answer to this dilemma is ·more conservation

 

education.' No one will debate this, but is it certain that only

 

[ 222] Til E LAND ETHIC the volume of education needs stepping up? Is something

 

lacking in the content as well?

 

lt is difficult to give a fair summary of its content in brief

 

f<Jrm, but, as I understand it, the content is substantially

 

tllis: obey the law, vote right, join some organizations, and

 

p ractice what conservation is profitable on your own land;

 

tl1e government will do the rest.

 

Is not this formula too easy to accomplish anything worthwhile? It defines no right or wrong, assigns no obligation,

 

calls for no sacrifice, implies no change in the current philosophy of values. In respect to land-use, it urges only enlightened self-interest. Just how far will such education take

 

us? An example will perhaps yield a partial answer.

 

By 1930 it had become clear to all except the ecologically

 

blind that southwestern Wisconsin's topsoil was slipping seaward. In 1933 the farmers were told that if they would adopt

 

certain remedial practices for five years, the public would

 

donate CCC labor to install them, plus the necessary machinery and materials. The offer was widely accepted, but

 

the practices were widely forgotten when the five-year contract period was up. The farmers continued only those practices that yielded an immediate and visible economic gain

 

for themselves.

 

This led to the idea that maybe farmers would learn more

 

quickly if they themselves wrote the rules. Accordingly the

 

Wisconsin Legislature in 1937 passed the Soil Conservation

 

District Law. This said to farmers, in effect: We, the public,

 

will furnish you free technical service and loan you specialized machinery, if you will write your own rules for landuse. Each county may write its own rules, and these will

 

have the force of law. Nearly all the counties promptly or[ 223 J THE UPSHOT ganized to accept the proffered help, but after a decade of

 

operation, no county has yet written a single t·ule. There has

 

been visible progress in such practices as strip-cropping,

 

pasture renovation, and soil liming, but none in fencing

 

woodlots against grazing, and none in excluding plow and

 

cow from steep slopes. The farmers, in short, have selected

 

those remedial practices which were profitable anyhow, and

 

ignored those which were profitable to the community, but

 

not clearly profitable to themselves.

 

When one asks why no rules have been written, one is told

 

that the community is not yet ready to support them; education must precede rules. But the education actually in progress makes no mention of obligations to land over and above

 

those dictated by self-interest. The net result is that we have

 

more education but less soil, fewer healthy woods, and as

 

many floods as in 1937.

 

The puzzling aspect of such situations is that the existence

 

of obligations over and above self-interest is taken for

 

granted in such rural community enterprises as the betterment of roads, schools, churches, and baseball teams. Their

 

existence is not taken for granted, nor as yet seriously discussed, in bettering the behavior of the water that falls on

 

the land, or in the preserving of the beauty or diversity of

 

the farm landscape. Land-use ethics are still governed wholly

 

by economic self-interest, just as social ethics were a century

 

ago.

 

To sum up: we asked the farmer to do what he conveniently could to save his soil, and he has done just that, and

 

only that. The farmer who clears the woods off a 75 per cent

 

slope, turns his cows into the clearing, and dumps its rainfall,

 

rocks, and soil into the community creek, is still (if otherwise

 

decent) a respected member of society. If he puts lime on

 

[ 224 J 1'HE LAND ETHIC l is fields and plants his crops on contour, he is still entitled

 

t () all the privileges and emoluments of his Soil Conservation

 

District. The District is a beautiful piece of social machinery,

 

but it is coughing along on two cylinders because we have

 

been too timid, and too anxious for quick success, to tell the

 

farmer the true magnitude of his obligations. Obligations

 

h ave no meaning without conscience, and the problem we

 

face is the extension of the social conscience from people to

 

land.

 

No important change in ethics was ever accomplished

 

without an internal change in our intellectual emphasis,

 

loyalties, affections, and convictions. The proof that consexvation has not yet touched these foundations of conduct

 

lies in the fact that philosophy and religion have not yet

 

heard of it. In our attempt to make conservation easy, we

 

have made it trivial. Substitutes for a Land Ethic

 

When the logic of history hungers for bread and we hand

 

out a stone, we are at pains to explain lww much the stone

 

resembles bread. I now describe some of the stones which

 

serve in lieu of a land ethic.

 

One basic weakness in a conservation system based wholly

 

on economic motives is that most members of the land community have no economic value. Wildflowers and songbirds

 

are examples. Of the 22,000 higher plants and animals native

 

to Wisconsin, it is doubtful whether more than 5 per cent

 

can he sold, fed, eaten, or otherwise put to economic use. Yet

 

these creatures are members of the biotic community, and if

 

(as I believe) its stability depends on its integrity, they are

 

entitled to continuance.

 

[ 2251 TilE UPSHOT When one of these non-economic categories is threatened,

 

and if we happen to love it, we invent subterfuges to give it

 

economic importance. At the beginning of the century songbirds were supposed to be disappearing. Ornithologists

 

jumped to the rescue with some distinctly shaky evidence to

 

the effect that insects would eat us up if birds failed to control them. The evidence had to be economic in order to be

 

valid.

 

It is painful to read these circumlocutions today. We have

 

no land ethic yet, but we have at least drawn nearer the

 

point of admitting that birds should continue as a matter of

 

biotic right, regardless of the presence or absence of economic advantage to us.

 

A parallel situation exists in respect of predatory mammals, raptorial birds, and fish-eating birds. Time was when

 

biologists somewhat overworked the evidence that these

 

creatures preserve the health of game by killing weaklings,

 

or that they control rodents for the farmer, or that they prey

 

only on 'worthless' species. Here again, the evidence had to

 

be economic in order to be valid. I t is only in recent years

 

that we hear the more honest argument that predators are

 

members of the community, and that no special interest has

 

the right to exterminate them for the sake of a benefit, real

 

or fancied, to itself. Unfortunately this enlightened view is

 

still in the talk stage. In the field the extermination of predators goes merrily on: witness the impending erasure of the

 

timber wolf by fiat of Congress, the Conservation Bureaus,

 

and many state legislatures.

 

Some species of trees have been 'read out of the party' by

 

economics-minded fores ters because they grow too slowly,

 

or have too low a sale value to pay as timber crops: white

 

cedar, tamarack, cypress, beech, and hemlock are examples.

 

[ 226] '111E UPSHOT In Europe, where forestry is ecologically more advanced, the

 

non-commercial tree species are recognized as m embers of

 

the native forest community, to be preserved as such, within

 

reason. Moreover, some (like beech ) have been found to

 

have a valuable function in building up soil fertility. The interdependence of the forest and its constituent tree species,

 

ground flora, and fauna is taken for granted.

 

Lack of economic value is sometimes a character not only

 

of species or groups, but of entire biotic communities:

 

marshes, bogs, dunes, and 'deserts' are examples. Our formula in such cases is to relegate their conservation to government as refuges, monuments, or parks. The d:fficulty is that

 

these communities are usually interspersed with more valuable private lands; the government cannot possibly own or

 

control such scattered parcels. The net effect is that we have

 

relegated some of them to ultimate extinction over large

 

areas. If the private owner were ecologically minded, he

 

would be proud to be the custodian of a reasonable proportion of such areas, which add diversity and beauty to his

 

farm and to his community.

 

In some instances, the assumed lack of profit in these

 

'waste' areas has proved to be wrong, but only after most of

 

them had been done away with. The present scramble to

 

reflood muskrat marshes is a case in point.

 

- There is a clear tendency in American conservation to

 

relegate to government all necessary jobs that private landowners fail to perform. Government ownership, operation,

 

subsidy, or regulation is now widely prevalent in forestry,

 

range management, soil and watershed management, park

 

and wilderness conservation, fisheries management, and migratory bird management, with more to come. Most of this

 

growth in-governmental conservation is proper and logical,

 

[ 228] TKE L AND ETifiC som e of it is inevitable. That I imply no disapproval of it is

 

implicit in the fact that I have spent most of my life working

 

for it. Nevertheless the question arises: What is the ultimate

 

magnitude of the enterprise? Will the tax base carry its eventual ramifications? At what point will governmental conservation, like the mastodon, become ·handicapped by its own

 

dimensions? The answer, if there is any, seems to be in a

 

land ethic, or some other force which assigns more obligation

 

to the private landowner.

 

Industrial landowners and users, especially lumbermen

 

and stockmen, are inclined to wail long and loudly about the

 

extension of government ownership and regulation to land,

 

but (with notable exceptions) they show little disposition to

 

develop the only visible alternative: the voluntary practice

 

of conservation on their own lands.

 

When the private landowner is asked to perform some

 

unprofitable act for the good of the community, he today

 

assents only with outstretched palm. If the act costs him cash

 

this is fair and proper, but when it costs only forethought,

 

open-mindedness, or time, the issue is at least debatable. The

 

overwhelming growth of land-use subsidies in recent years

 

must be ascribed, in large part, to the government's own

 

agencies for conservation education: the land bureaus, the

 

agricultural colleges, and the extension services. As far as I

 

can detect, no ethical obligation toward land is taught in

 

these institutions.

 

To sum up: a system of conservation based solely on economic self-interest is hopelessly lopsided. It tends to ignore,

 

and thus eventually to eliminate, many elements in the land

 

community that lack commercial value, but that are (as far as

 

we know ) essential to its healthy functioning. It assumes,

 

falsely, I think, that the economic parts of the biotic clock

 

[ 229 1 THE UPSHOT will function without the uneconomic parts. It tends to relegate to government many functions eventually too large, too

 

complex, or too widely dispersed to be performed by gov.

 

ernment.

 

An ethical obligation on the part of the private owner is

 

the only visible remedy for these situations.

 

The Land Pyramid

 

An ethic to supplement and guide the economic relation to

 

land presupposes the existence of some mental image of land

 

as a biotic mechanism. We can be ethical only in relation to

 

something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise

 

have faith in.

 

The image commonly employed in conservation education

 

is 'the balance of nature: For reasons too leng thy to detail

 

here, this figure of speech fails to describe accurately what

 

little we know about the land mechanism. A much truer

 

image is the one employed in ecology: the biotic pyramid. I

 

shall first sketch the pyramid as a symbol of land, and later

 

develop some of its implications in terms of land-use.

 

Plants absorb energy from the sun. This energy flows

 

through a circuit called the biota, which may be represented

 

by a pyramid consisting of layers. The bottom layer is the

 

soil. A plant layer rests on the soil, an insect layer on the

 

plants, a bird and rodent layer on the insects, and so on up

 

through various animal groups to the apex layer, which consists of the larger carnivores.

 

The species of a layer are alike not in where they came

 

from, or in what they look like, but rather in what they eat.

 

Each successive layer depends on those below it for food and

 

often for other services, and each in turn furnishes food and

 

[ 230] 'l'JIS LAND ETHIC services to those above. Proceeding upward, each successive

 

layer decreases in numerical abundance. Thus, for every

 

carnivore there are hundreds of his prey, thousands of their

 

prey, millions of insects, uncountable plants. The pyramidal

 

fof)ll of the system reflects this numerical progression from

 

apelC to base. Man shares an intermediate layer with the

 

bears, raccoons, and squirrels which eat both meat and vegetables.

 

The lines of dependency for food and other services are

 

called food chains. Thus soil-oak-deer-Indian is a chain that

 

bas now been largely converted to soil-corn-cow-farmer.

 

Each species, including ourselves, is a link in many chains.

 

The deer eats a hundred plants other than oak, and the cow

 

a hundred plants other than corn. Both, then, are links in a

 

hundred chains. The pyramid is a tangle of chains so complex

 

as to seem disorderly, yet the stability of the system proves it

 

to be a highly organized structure. Its functioning depends

 

on the co-operation and competition of its diverse parts.

 

In the beginning, the pyramid of life was low and squat,

 

the food chains short and simple. Evolution has added layer

 

after layer, link after link. Man is one of thousands of accretions to the height and complexity of the pyramid. Science

 

bas given us many doubts, but it has given us at least one

 

certainty: the trend of evolution is to elaborate and diversify

 

the biota.

 

Land, then, is not merely soil; it is a fountain of energy

 

flowing through a circuit of soils, plants, and animals. Food

 

chains are the living channels which conduct energy upward; death and decay return it to the soil. The circuit is not

 

closed; some energy is dissipated in decay, some is added by

 

absorption from the air, some is stored in soils, peats, and

 

long-lived forests; but it is a sustained circuit, like a slowly

 

[ 231] THE UPSHOT augmented revolving fund of life. There is always a net loss

 

by downhill wash, but this is normally small and offset by

 

the decay of rocks. It is deposited in the ocean and, in the

 

course of geological time, raised to form new lands and new

 

pyramids.

 

The velocity and character of the upward flow of energy

 

depend on the complex structure of the plant and animal

 

community, much as the upward flow of sap in a tree depends on its complex cellular organization. Without this complexity, normal circulation would presumably not occur.

 

Structure means the characteristic numbers, as well as the

 

characteristic kinds and functions, of the component species.

 

This interdependence between the complex structure of the

 

land and its smooth functioning as an energy unit is one of its

 

basic attributes.

 

When a change oc...

 


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