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Free EssaysPhilosophy CategoryThe Relations between Human Beings and the LandBuy an essay
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Everyone may agree that the land should be treated with love and respect. However, not everyone really knows what it means. The history of the humankind is a history of constant war with the land, which in a broad sense is the nature. At first, the nature was very frightening, people considerably depended on it, therefore, they worshiped the sun, the earth, every river, every tree or even every stone. Later, in the process of development and progress people overcame such a strong dependency. The human beings started opposing themselves to the nature and saw their main task in taming and conquering the nature, making it their “slave”. People understood that a human being is the highest stage of the evolution, thus almost perfect and absolutely superior to other species. This belief empowered people with almost unlimited rights in relation to the land, which was viewed as nothing but a “servant” urged to fulfill people’s needs.

Nowadays the exploitative treatment of the nature is gradually changing. Many people realized that the nature is inseparable from the humankind, as well as humankind cannot live separately from the nature. The human beings and the surrounding environment are interdependent and interrelated parts of one whole. The fact that people, as a species endowed with intellect, are the highest stage of evolution implies not only rights but big responsibilities and obligations. 

Aldo Leopold, who is considered to be a father of the conservation movement in America, in his work The Land Ethic, insisted on introduction of a new type of ethics – the one dealing with the relations between human beings and the land. He used the word “land” to define not only the soils, but waters, flora and fauna. In other words, he affirmed accepting the ethic norms and rules regulating the relations between the nature and people as equal members of the community. He considered that it was “an evolutionary possibility and ecological necessity” (Leopold 169). Leopold understood that the land ethics would not prevent people from economic use of the land and its resources. However, the land ethics will assign people with the responsibilities and obligations in relation to the land. The land ethics has to change the role of a human being, altering it from a conqueror to a fellow-member of the community. Besides, human beings have to recognize and accept not only the right of the land to existence but its right to exist in its natural, untouched forms, at least in spots (171-172).

“The man is, in fact, only a member of a biotic team” (Leopold 173). The nature is a complex structure. It consists of numerous layers which are related to each other in form of the food chains constituting the pyramid of nature. The lower layers give food and other services to the upper ones. Thus, the diverse system of the nature is a structure of many interrelated and interdependent elements (179-181). Any change occurring within one element will inevitably affect the others. It will evolve a chain reaction of changes which are difficult to predict, and which consequences are not possible to evaluate.

The humankind tends to care about the nature only concerning its economic value. All the species are divided into valuable and worthless ones. This division is not only wrong, it is damaging. As it has been mentioned above, every element in the nature structure has the numerous connections to other elements. Affecting only one of them will lead to the unpredictable changes of the rest of the elements. Of course, evolution is a constant change. However, evolution alternations are very slow, unlike the fast, vigorous and sometimes violent interferences of people. The nature adjusts itself to the changes. This process, according to Leopold, is the nature’s health. Unfortunately, the changes imposed by people are so fast that the nature has no time to adjust to them. Thus, people do harm to the nature’s health. The loss of any species, seemingly unimportant and economically not valuable, can lead to the unpredictable consequences. The scientists can make very obscure conclusions in what these changes will result in the future. In general, it is difficult to foresee the response of the nature, as it is able to renew itself and adjust to the changes occurring inside. For many years, people did not even consider this question. They used to treat the land as nothing but their property. The value of the land was determined by the immediate economic profits it could give (177-185). Only recently, people have started to understand that they are not superior to the nature but an equal part of it.

The ecological science appeared long after the agricultural one. Probably, this is the main reason why the land ethics has not been emerged yet. It requires evolution in people’s consciousness, which is a time consuming process (Leopold 188). The ecological issues cannot be neglected. After years of the land exploitation, it is vitally important to realize that it cannot proceed in this way any longer. The conservation movement was just the beginning in changing the consuming attitudes towards the nature. However, it is not enough. It is necessary to adopt the new rules and laws protecting all the species irrelevant to their economic value. These rules should also limit the human rights towards the environment and assign definite obligations compulsory for every member of the society. The land should not be used and treated as a mere source of food and other comforts for people.

The fact that the human beings are the highest layer in a natural pyramid means that people mostly dependent on the lower layers, which provide food and other necessities essential for people’s survival. In fact, the human beings are one of the most vulnerable species. From this perspective, it is evident that the conquering behavior of people affects mostly themselves. Damaging the nature and exploiting it people inevitably do harm to their own lives. It is time to understand it and treat the environment with respect, as there is no division between the humans on the one side and the nature on the other. People are the elements of the integral whole, which is the nature.

Leopold’s work ‘The Land Ethic’ was published more than half a century ago. However, the issues he raised in it are still incredibly important. The humankind has taken only a little step towards understanding the interconnections of all the natural elements and a place of human beings in the natural structure. Homo sapiens is just one of the species inhabiting the earth. Each species has its own value that has no relation to the economic value it may or may not have. People must realize what is right and what is wrong. “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community” (Leopold 190).

The world existed without human beings for millions of years. It would probably exist for many other millions of years without human beings if they disappeared as a species. The nature has enough strength and power to adjust to the new conditions. However, it is doubtful that the humankind will be able to exist without nature. The relations between people and the land should be based on love and respect. Accepting that people and the natural environment are the members of one and the same community is essential. It means that the notion of the community relates to the soils, waters, plants and animals, or in other words, to the nature in general. It will be a new and higher level of social organization, the one which includes the land as its fellow-member. Thus, all the ethical rules circulating within the society have to be introduced considering the land too. It will alter the role of a human being from a conqueror of the land into a fellow-member cooperating with it.

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