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Chapter 7: Following in Aldo Leopold’s Footsteps: Humans-in-Ecosystem and Implications for Ecosystem Health
Ecological Economics for the Anthropocene: An Emerging Paradigm
Format: Book Chapter
Publication Year: 2015
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Place of Publication: New York, UNITED STATES
Source ID: shanti-sources-86351
Abstract: In this chapter, Lin and Fyles retrace the thinking of Aldo Leopold on conceiving humans as plain members and citizens of the biotic community, perceiving the intrinsic character of the land as “land health,” and considering how these two ideas led to his famous “land ethic.” Leopold’s land ethic urges people to expand their relationship with land beyond economics to include “integrity, stability, and beauty.” The authors then apply his thinking to the context of ecosystem and ecosystem health by considering humans as part of ecosystems, and the resulting implications for ecosystem health. With this thinking, the authors return to Leopold by studying one of his essays in A Sand County Almanac (1949). In “A Mighty Fortress,” Leopold mentioned how his woodlot, having been visited by various tree diseases, became a rich habitat for wildlife. This essay underscores the multiplicity of perspectives in an ecosystem and its complex nature, which in turn challenges humans to learn the richness and meaning of the concept of health. Put another way, and echoing the view of the previous chapter, health cannot be adequately portrayed by using only medical science. The authors conclude with a call for supplementing the scientific, rational mode of perceiving reality and human action with thinking from the arts and the humanities.