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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… The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land… In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it…

One basic weakness in a conservation system based wholly upon 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 be 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…

A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal… It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, and admiration for land, and a high regard for its value. By value, I of course mean something far broader than mere economic value; I mean value in the philosophical sense.

Perhaps the most serious obstacle impeding the evolution of a land ethic is the fact that our educational and economic system is headed away from, rather than toward, an intense consciousness of land. Your true modern is separated from the land by many middlemen, and by innumerable physical gadgets. He has no vital relation to it; to him it is the space between cities where crops grow…

The ‘key-log’ which must be removed to release the evolutionary process for an ethic is simply this: quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem… A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise… (Aldo Leopold)

So how is the land ethic doing these days? Holding its own in the face of “economic motives?” How are the 95% of the members of the planet’s biotic community that have no economic value to us faring?

A Sand County Almanac was published in 1949. The Wilderness Act was signed into law by President Johnson in 1964 and there are now 757 wilderness areas (including the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in New Mexico) of 109,511,966 acres. More than a quarter of the land area of the United States is considered “protected areas” (with various levels of protection – the strictest Level I and Level II , National Parks and Strict Nature Reserves and Wilderness Areas, are 210,000 square miles).

These are great things we have done. Aldo Leopold would be proud.

However, it should also be obvious to us that the term “protected area” refers to protection from something, and it should be more obvious that that ‘something’ is “economic motives.” Really, a park is just a word that refers to land that is legally protected from those who desire to turn it into dollars. In our country those protections are fairly strong and a “park” really means what it is supposed to. In other places in the world this is not the case. This may be why 10% of the protected areas on the planet are in the US.

Orangutans have no economic value. Oh sure, there are ecotourism dollars being generated to visit the last refuges of these economically worthless beings, but unless we “quit thinking about decent land-use as solely an economic problem” they won’t be around very much longer. Because, unfortunately for them, they live among resources that can be put to economic use.

One the homes for 6,000 or so of these last of one of our biotic community relations, is Tanjung Puting National Park, one of the remnants of the forests that used to cover Indonesia and have been reduced to less than 1/5 their original extent. This is because they were of “economic use” and not protected – but they were of “economic use” not standing as they originally were, they were of “economic use” only after they were cut down, sawed up and sold as paper, pallets, boards, desks, picture frames, and a myriad of other consumer goods.

In  The Final Cut we learn that

On paper Indonesia has an extensive system of conservation areas to protect its unique biodiversity, covering 19 million hectares or 13% of the forests. The country has 37 national parks, but in reality many of these are under attack from economic interests.
What does being “under attack from economic interests” look like?
Tanjung Puting National Park is being attacked on an unprecedented scale. Hemmed in by rapidly-expanding oil palm plantations, its waters poisoned by mercury used in gold mining, damaged by forest fires, the future viability of this protected oasis is severely threatened.

The gravest danger is posed by illegal logging. While the more remote regions of the park have long been affected by small-scale logging over the last year the level and extent of the logging have grown dramatically. Tanjung Puting is now facing an onslaught orchestrated by local timber barons, determined to strip the park of its remaining commercial timber.

The logging has spread like a contagion from the south and east into the core of the park, and is now even rampant along the Sekonyer River, where the research stations and tourist lodges are found. The head of Tanjung Puting National Park, Suherti Redy, believes that if the current rate of logging continues the park will be gone in five years.

The logging is carried out in full view of the local authorities and is flourishing in an atmosphere of endemic corruption among the park rangers, police and military. The main culprits behind the massive timber theft are a group of sawmill owners in the nearby port of Kumai, principally Kartono and Halim, and local timber tycoon Abdul Rasyid.

There are many very fine people fighting against these economic uses in order to save the last remaining orangutan habitat. One of them is OFI, Orangutan Foundation International. And they’ve had some recent victories. The park is still standing and there have been some international agreements, thanks to the hard work of many committed orangutan lovers, that have bitten into illegal logging. But, nevertheless, the park is under severe attack.

But I’ve just got to wonder… why is it so hard?

I mean, like the guy who cut down the last tree on Easter Island for what must have been “economic uses.”  Market forces, the scarcity of supply (the last remaining tree) and the huge demand must have made that sucker worth a lot of currency. It seems that made it an easy decision.

This brings me to that popular saying, which probably originated with Alanis Obomsawin (an Abenaki):

Your people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.
The market would respond: "That last tree?!  That sucker will be worth billions! The last little zoo? The sky's the limit for admission prices! The last pure water? Millions of dollars per cup! The last air? Billions of dolla--  urrp, gasp, ..."

It’s more than a “terrible sense of deficiency.” The economic market is fundamentally insane. It is insane because it believes that 95% of our biotic community has no value; or, in other words, the entire planet is not worth saving. And it’s delivering on that. It will act as if it’s not worth saving up until the last gasp of breathable air. (Visit the large cities in China on a bad day if you doubt that last bit about the air.) It just doesn’t get that basic problem with turning land into money: sooner or later, you run out of things to eat, water to drink and air to breathe.

We have a really good measure of this fundamental insanity now. The global level of C02 just keeps climbing, in spite of the fact that all our decent scientists are screaming at us to stop putting the stuff into the atmosphere. There’s a lot of talk out there about doing something about it, but when you look at the disaster that is the latest climate meeting in Warsaw, polluted by fossil fuel interests, and the desperate grasping by the natural gas industry to own that powerful word “clean,” it becomes clear that our actions are still fundamentally insane. We (again humans in the aggregate as judged by our actions) have chosen economic value over ecological conscience.

Originally posted to grains of sand on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:35 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thinking like a mountain. (30+ / 0-)
    We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes – something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view. (Aldo Leopold)

    muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

    by veritas curat on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 05:30:25 PM PST

  •  Leopold on economics (12+ / 0-)

    Further thoughts from Leopold, from his introduction to A Sand County Almanac:

    We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.

    ...Our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy.

    That about sums it up for me....
  •  My name (10+ / 0-)

    is Pesek the orangutan. My daughter, April & I approve of this diary


    Global warming & smoking cigarettes = Nothing to worry about? Those who deny climate science are ignorant, evil or worse. Google Fred Singer.

    by LaughingPlanet on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 06:22:17 PM PST

  •  I have been working on land use issues for the (13+ / 0-)

    majority of my adult life. What people do NOT get is that these decisions not only determine (without you knowing it) where you live, but how you drive, where you drive, if you drive and how much you drive among other things.

    It determines where your kids school, size of classrooms and quality of schools. It determines whether your kids will ride a bus (or have a bus to ride), be in a segregated or integrated school and whether or not a private (or religious) school will be given overall school credits in the scheme of things.

    It determines amount and quality and kind of open space and natural areas IF anyone really cares to push it and assuming the municipality has reasonable standards (and believe me, most don't). It is the case that often the lands acquired are liabilities to the developer (waterways, flood areas, landslide, or other unstable areas and has little to do, mostly, with the actual QUALITY of the habitat or preservation of habitat that is really scarce). The public, then, gets a liability and the developer, in reality, gets a tax break. Figures. (Though often that isn't necessarily bad as some prime habitat, depending, MAY be in flooded or unstable areas.)

    They determine in many areas whether you will have an all electric home, be able to hang clothes on a line or be involved in a homeowners assoc.  (read lots of rules and a sterile environment a lot of the time).

    It determines whether you will have big box stores or mom and pop stores to purchase goods because developers sell their projects based, often, on what's locally available and mom and pop stores rank about dead last.

    Then jobs... well, all I can say is that they sell everything from high-tech to fast foods as jobs, in general, lumping them together in terms of commercial creation related to housing development.

    The bottom line is that politicians like development, which means loss of the natural world NO MATTER where you live. The mitigations are often meaningless and frequently not met, but no one--and I mean NO ONE--watches this even in municipalities which claim to have mitigation monitoring policies (and note that often, these are changed after the fact where you don't know, can't speak to the change and... well... ).

    Land use is boring and detailed.

    And it directs your entire life whether you know it or not.

    So please, pay attention!

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:11:47 PM PST

  •  Yes and no. (5+ / 0-)

    We must change the way we look at land.

    But more importantly, we must change the way we look at ourselves.

    Politics means controlling the balance of economic and institutional power. Everything else is naming post offices.

    by happymisanthropy on Sat Nov 23, 2013 at 07:45:50 PM PST

  •  Leopold besides his wolf quote also said something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat, Bisbonian, Churchill

    to the extent of those who want no predator control and those who want to exterminate them are both biologically unrealistic. I was going to reply to your first comment but then I worried about replying to a tip jar.

    Or better yet look at my sig line. We are great at taking land from indigenous people for us to play in. Yellowstone and Yosemite spring to mind. But all this stealing of land to make playgrounds for enviros who might well never visit anyway has done nothing to stop the accelerating extinction of species.

    I think one of the best protections of wilderness is to first allow the people who have lived there since as long as we knew, to continue to live there. Without the people who care for a land that land will always be sold for lumber or rubber.

    But ultimately we need to stop thinking of land as a garden of eden preserve and more like just a garden. The mindset we've followed in the US of Parks with expensive concessions with tons of roads, and Wilderness for snowy mountain peaks that no one wants to use anyway, just isn't working. We need river systems and lowlands and we need to allow them to be used by the people who live there too.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 07:31:36 AM PST

    •  Yes, Indonesia is trying things now that involve (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock

      the indigenous communities in helping care for the land rather than kicking them out. It's a good idea, but it needs to be less economically based and more focused on the land ethic, IMHO.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:30:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly wrong. (0+ / 0-)

        For most people, the "land ethic" can be blown away by waving a few dollar bills. But if the people in the area, indigenous and otherwise, see cold hard cash in preserving the orangutangs, they will be preserved. Make it in their short-term as well as their long-term interest, and the problem is solved.

        (And while you're at it, don't glorify "indigenous people" as a group. Individual nations have different motivations. Guess who provided a fair bit of the labor to develop the Alberta tar sands? The local indigenous people. And while you're at it, guess why they were so poor that they jumped at the opportunity? Because their traditional source of income, the fur trade, had been destroyed by the environmental movement. Karma's a bitch.)

        "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

        by sagesource on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:24:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Too much contrarianism makes me wonder (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          veritas curat

          Certainly conservation efforts must include an economically viable role for local people who would otherwise be forced to try to 'steal' whatever is supposed to be conserved. But what's all this bullshit about the Alberta tar sands development is the fault of environmentalists who destroyed the fur trade? It's the fault of engineers and capitalists who figured out a clever way to wring more oil from the earth, and would have happened even if the fur trade, indigenous people, and an environmental movement had all never existed in Canada. I agree that glorifying indigenous people over anyone else is silly; people are people. But no one is going to put money towards conservation without a land ethic, because without a land ethic there's no motivation to spend money that way. It's easy for you to say "make it in their short-term as well as their long-term interest," but without a land ethic who is going to waste money on that? After all, it's more economically sensible to just consume the resources and let the indigenous people compete on the open market like everyone else. Why should we subsidize them? Without a land ethic, we won't. Without a land ethic, their neighbors who aren't fortunate enough to live near a reserve won't be inclined to allow such an unfair subsidy to continue.

  •  From the standpoint of a field biologist, I ... (7+ / 0-)

    think that it is fairly evident that the human species is failing to apply Leopold's insights. All you have to do is look at our climate change meetings to see that.  We are all trapped in a gigantic Ponzi scheme, which embodies our economic theories of more and more products being sold to more and more people. At the same time many of the members of the top 1% are working for their own short-term self interest so much that they will bring about the collapse of even that shaky system much sooner.

    It has been said that FDR saved Capitalism from collapse by introducing social programs that staved off the building revolution.  There is some truth in that, but you also have to throw in World War II, which brought the country together to face common enemies. In any case the basic truth is that there ate too many people and that humans are polluting the land, air, and water, at an alarming rate.  

    The question we all have to ask is whether we as a species can change enough to develop a sustainable system, based on a land ethic that is not totally driven by money and power issues, or even if we are capable of doing so. Obviously individuals (like Leopold) are able to see the trap we are in, but can we collectively see it?  That is the question that determines our future survival as a civilized species, if we survive at all.  As I have a grandchild I hope we can, but I cannot honestly say that I am optimistic.

    •  I hope as you do and I, also, cannot honestly (4+ / 0-)

      say that I am optimistic. Changing enough to develop a sustainable system requires fundamental changes in our ways of relating to the earth. There are those who get it, like Aldo Leopold. My hope is that everyone will get it, but I wouldn't bet on it.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:26:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course they won't (0+ / 0-)

        You have chosen to speak in a language they can't understand. Explain the long-term economics of destroying the environment. Forget about the "sacredness" of nature, something that receives lip service, at best.

        For that matter, forget about "nature." It's a collective term, a verbal basket, whose reality lies in an almost infinite series of mutual checks and balances, all of which can be described in real-world terms without a slathering of woo. You're doing no one a service, least of all yourself, if you build up "nature" to be anything more than that.

        "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

        by sagesource on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:10:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  and it has to said: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat, Bisbonian, ban48, Churchill

    The Hippies were right.  We still are...

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 08:04:10 AM PST

    •  The hippies... (0+ / 0-)

      ...were Ronald Reagan's enablers. There's a phrase that's worded in too violent terms but is nevertheless relevant, "If you strike at the king, strike to kill." The witless hippies blew a raspberry in the Right's face instead of striking to kill, and we've been paying the price ever since.

      "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

      by sagesource on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:14:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Conceptual difficulties (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ban nock, sagesource

    Aldo Leopold was undoubtedly a fine forestry advocate, but his understanding of ethics is skewed, beginning from the erroneous understanding that "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…" Among several other approaches, it would be trivial to show that a significant chunk of modern ethics has been founded on notions of atomic individualism.

    In addition, insofar as the "land ethic" is a variant on what is usually termed "the problem of the commons," it is not simply turned into an issue of economic vs. non-economic values.  E.g., current struggles between mountain bikers and some forestry services over who gets to use public lands under what circumstances owes nothing to economics.

    Leopold apparently argues for rights imputed to something termed a "biotic community," based on an (unspecified) notion of "value in the philosophical sense." This also is unclear, starting from the hazy idea of a biotic community. As one basic question: is man a part of the biotic community?— in which case his welfare as part of the whole needs to be taken account of. Is the biotic community a fixed population in a fixed balance—in which case what shall we say of a non-human part of the community that changes the balance, e.g. Asian carp in Mississippi, or zebra mussels in the great Lakes?

    Overall, I'm not persuaded that casting this discussion as economics vs. ecological conscience, appealing as it appears at first glance, points in a useful direction forward.

  •  Thus does the environmental movement.... (0+ / 0-)

    ....shoot itself in the foot. With a cannon. The definition of "economic interest" assumed in this piece is almost childishly short-sighted, but you do not question it. You've swallowed your opponents' definition whole, and it will kill you. To reject economic interest as a primary motivation is to descend into a lukewarm swamp of vague notions that appeals to very few with any great force. Worse, it implicitly proclaims that more prudent policies are "uneconomic," which is a huge ball and chain around the ankle of anyone attempting to get them implemented.

    You have a very deficient imagination if you can't find any economic interest in preserving orangutangs. Do we know everything there is to know about them? Of course not, so it is not in our best long-term interest to wipe them out. It would be like burning a book without even knowing its contents. Put that way, the average person easily understands the imprudence of the exclusive pursuit of short-term profit over long-term benefit. But if you just flap your hands and emote about sacredness, they won't give a damn. They'll nod politely and then go chasing after profit, however falsely it has been defined.

    Very few people care about the "sacred," a meaningless category that throughout history has been used by the powerful and strong to beat the poor and weak into shapes convenient to them. But nearly everyone can understand the concept of a short-term profit or benefit that becomes a long-term liability.

    If you allow yourself to be defined as "uneconomic" and indulge in shallow, sentimental burblings, "thinking like a mountain," you've lost. "Thinking like a mountain," apart from being quite incomprehensible to most people, is a very poor and very weak argument compared to, "Look, wiping out all the wolves is very short-sighted. They're almost no threat to human beings, as you can see from this pile of studies I've brought, and without a predator the damned deer will copulate themselves into disease and starvation. Nature is stupid that way.  And you think it's cheaper to try to give the local deer birth control pills? Think again. It is in your long-term interest to allow a wolf population to keep the deer in check, and to ignore that rancher who is wailing about losing a calf or two. He's just looking out for his own immediate, selfish interests, but it is in the long-term interest of the area -- economic and otherwise -- to put up with a bit of loss from wolves, rather than to have the deer starve."

    Caution and prudence in dealing with the natural world does not come from vague sentimentality. It comes from a clear appreciation of long-term, sustainable economic benefit as opposed to strip-it-and-run carpetbagging. But if you allow yourself to be defined as the enemy of an unqualified "economic interest," accepting the false definitions given to you by your opponents, you've lost. Simple as that.

    "They smash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn)

    by sagesource on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:01:29 AM PST

    •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      veritas curat

      One of the primary criticisms (internal and external) of the environmental movement over the decades has been precisely the opposite of your contention here:  that it has been far TOO focused on simplistic nations of "economic interest." i.e. the "practical," material, instrumental values, defined by science, and calculated through various economic analyses and proxies, and (at least occasionally) translated into policy.  Long-term, rational self-interest, stripped of all those "vague" sentiments and extra-economic motives.

      It didn't work.  Over the last decade, intensive efforts have been undertaken to calculate ecosystem service values, and to put it into hard money terms. We'll see if that works out.  It has certainly changed the conversation.  But I doubt any of the economists who have advanced the concept would reject the idea that we must also consider the ethical dimension as well.

      Meanwhile, a counter trend over the decades has been to reach a broader segment of the public by addressing the values behind environmental progress:  those ethical, moral, and, yes, spiritual values that are an essential part of any social change, and that frame economic values.  And so there has been a global movement, in all the major world religions, to make the moral case.  NOT to replace or somehow supersede the economic arguments, but to augment and extend them.  Likewise there has been a hybridizing of environmental ethics and economics, in the emergent field of ecological economics.  It's not either/or; it's both and more.

      The author of "Thiinking Like a Mountain" understood that.

      I now suspect that just as a deer herd lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. And perhaps with better cause, for while a buck pulled down by wolves can be replaced in two or three years, a range pulled down by too many deer may fail of replacement in as many decades. So also with cows. The cowman who cleans his range of wolves does not realize that he is taking over the wolf's job of trimming the herd to fit the range. He has not learned to think like a mountain. Hence we have dustbowls, and rivers washing the future into the sea.
      That was written in the 1940s.  It wasn't just a poetic phrase.  It was a way of conveying basic lessons in ecology to a public that had never heard the word.  The concept he was conveying we now call "trophic cascades" -- and it has very real economic ramifications.  And that we now call sustainability.
  •  'The Market' is insane because it has no inherent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat

    sense of value for anything.  That is why the government cannot create wealth: if everyone has it is isn't 'wealth'.  If everyone has clean water, my hoard of water has no value.  If everyone has open spaces, my huge lot has no value.  If everyone has decent food, my good eating doesn't show how wealthy I am.  If everyone has a good school and safe neighborhoods, my zip code has no value.  How we treat the environment is as symptomatic as how we treat everything else.

    This is 'why we can't have good things'.  Because if we all had good things, in our insane economic system they would by definition not be good things.  I friggin hate that meme.

    And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

    by ban48 on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 11:20:59 AM PST

  •  We are the super-predator (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    veritas curat, NoMoreLies

    We are able, and apparently willing, to consume the entire biosphere and turn it into a world-wide layer of human babies and human shit. There is no 'practical' reason to consume a little bit less of the environment if you are acting on the basis of the evolved drive to reproduce a little more effectively than your neighbor. Economic rationales for not destroying the environment will always be impotent against this sad fact. Only if we as a species manage to choose some other goal for life than maximizing reproductive potential will we succeed in not gobbling up our own planet home. We must have some value more important than material well-being. Without that, there will always be someone somewhere making the perfectly reasonable decision that they could benefit materially from destroying some little bit of the environment that "no one will ever even miss," and bit by bit, our living world will be consumed.

    •  Maximizing reproductive potential is the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      drive that underlies "market forces." Evolution via natural selection has brought us to where we are - our ancestors were successful and bequeathed us the genetic potential to be successful.

      After having called the market "fundamentally insane" I want to acknowledge that I may well be referring to the natural process that has brought us to our present predicament. Wolves would kill and eat the last black-footed ferret without a qualm about causing their extinction. The difference, I suppose, is that we have the capacity to develop a land ethic.

      The market may well be the result of these basic drives writ large due to the tremendous technological tools at our disposal to continue maximizing our reproductive potential until nothing is left. As you rightly say we must have some value more important than material well-being. The land ethic is such a value.

      muddy water can best be cleared by leaving it alone

      by veritas curat on Sun Nov 24, 2013 at 06:16:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I also believe it was Aldo Leopold who noted... (4+ / 0-)

    that there was a very powerful reason for preserving apparently 'useless' species of plants and animals:

    to paraphrase, 'you shouldn't throw any parts of a machine away until you are absolutely sure how the thing works and precisely what all the parts do'.

    We are no where near understanding how all the parts of the world's various ecosystems fit together. Yet we're consuming and exterminating countless species with scarcely a thought.

  •  That popular saying sounds pretty much like (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the entire plot of Dr Seuss' 'The Lorax'.

    Not saying either come from the other - it's common for many people to have the same ideas over time.

  •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

    There is something in us that refuses to be regarded as less than human. We are created for freedom - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    by Onomastic on Mon Nov 25, 2013 at 12:33:51 PM PST

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