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Aldo Leopold

Aldo Leopold, a United States environmentalist, was born in Burlington, Iowa, and attended Yale University. An advocate for the preservation of wildlife and wilderness areas, he became a founder of the Wilderness Society[?] in 1935. Leopold wrote A Sand County Almanac[?] which has been read by millions and has impacted the environmental movement.

Leopold's "Land Ethics" chapter discusses conservation further in "The Ecological Conscience" section. Leopold states, "Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." It is agreed that more conservation education is needed; however quantity and content are up for debate. Content guidelines identified by Leopold include: obey the law, vote right, join some organizations and practice what conservation is profitable on your own land; the government will do the rest. This formula appears to serve self-interest but it does not address ethical questions.

With the hopes of addressing ethical issues as well as educational challenges, an example is given regarding Wisconsin's southwestern topsoil[?] slipping seaward. In 1933 the public offered assistance to farmers who adopted remedial practices for five years, which was widely accepted. Once the five-year period was completed, the farmers only continued practices that offered economic gain for themselves, disregarding practices which were profitable for the community. In response, the Wisconsin Legislature[?] passed the Soil Conservation District Law in 1937 that allowed farmers to write rules for land use themselves. Even with the additional incentives of free technical service and the availability of specialized machinery for loan, rules that would benefit the community continued to be ignored as no rules were written. A small amount of progress did occur, but not enough to address the pertinent problems.

The need for education was identified as a necessity prior to rules being written and supported by the community. Interestingly enough, it was noted that various community obligations other than land-use ethics rose above economic self-interest and did indeed gain community support. This fact brings Leopold to the conclusion that obligations have no meaning without conscience, and the problem we face is the extension of the social conscience from people to land. Conservation has been minimized without the benefit of philosophy and religion.

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