Aldo Leopold

May 23, 2005

Aldo Leopold was a graduate of the Yale Forestry School and a 17 year veteran of the US Forest Service. Perhaps his greatest influence during his lifetime was as a professor of game management at the University of Wisconsin, but his posthumous book, A Sand County Almanac, published a year and a half after his fatal heart attack in 1948, is perhaps his greatest legacy.

Leopold believed that the basis of successful conservation was to extend to nature the ethical sense of responsibility that humans extend to each other. He recognized that the "ability to see the cultural value of wilderness boils down…to a question of intellectual humility."

The fact that his idea of the "land ethic," or the human relationship to the land, is unexceptional now is a measure of its widespread influence.

Fifty years is a both a very short and very long time in the life of a good idea.


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