Eminent Introductory Blog Post

          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

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Aldo Leopold. The name doesn’t conjure pictures of a billionaire entrepreneur, an Oscar winning actor, or an influential politician. In fact, to most people, Aldo Leopold simply doesn’t create a picture at all. For someone who pioneered and laid the foundation for the modern environmental movement, this seems ironic or perhaps a sad reflection of society’s values.

Aldo Leopold was the author of The Sand County Almanac and various other essays that advocated environmentalism.

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Through his Land Ethic and his eloquent writing, he was able to bring up the philosophy of environmentalism and tell millions about the moral duties humans had to the natural world. Despite passing away over seventy years ago, Leopold is still remembered today, which leads me to believe that his legacy will be remembered even a century from now. In the face of post WW2 American capitalism and emerging concepts, Leopold dared to say that land was an integrated, dynamic community of plant and animal life when nature was viewed as a mere commodity for making everyone richer. His want for wilderness areas to remain pristine, and his fear that in the face of human greed, nature would lose its footing and be used up until none was left for both humans and nature, drove him to poetically contest these ideas through his essays and novels. Leopold’s story is largely relevant today. Recently, the government and most people have taken a turn for environmentalism. From the introduction of Green Bins to straw bans, it is clear that efforts are being made to reduce the human impact on our beloved planet. Unfortunately, carbon emissions from industries and automobiles are still building up in our atmosphere leading to global warming. Despite there being evidence of climate change, such as the melting snow on Mount Kilimanjaro and receding glaciers, no affirmative action is being taken, just like how humanity ignored nature’s changes in the Midwest until the dust storms of 1937 during Leopold’s time.

Snow melt on Mount Kilimanjaro

Snow melt on Mount Kilimanjaro

The Dust Bowl, the cause of environmental indifference

The Dust Bowl, the cause of environmental indifference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leopold’s story teaches us about our moral obligation to nature and why listening to nature’s changes and recognizing our role in promoting the health of the land is crucial in the long run. Additionally, despite his diligence and effort, Leopold’s story is largely unknown. Perhaps it’s the fact the Leopold himself doesn’t look like someone who is “cool” to follow. Perhaps it is a reflection of society’s unwillingness to sacrifice comfort for the betterment of the environment. Nevertheless, Leopold has done a lot and his story deserves to be told. The story of environmentalism is not that long, with the modern environmental movement having only started sixty years ago, but is filled with struggles between environmentalists and industries. Leopold stands out among the myriad of environmentalists because he helped lay the foundation for the environmental movement and influenced many people in his field. Additionally, his story is complete; Leopold’s struggles and work are completed, which makes him preferable over a nascent figure. From Leopold, we can take away many things, but perhaps the greatest thing we can take away is what Leopold preached from the very beginning, to recognize our role in promoting the health of the land and caring for it.

Gila Wilderness, the world's first wilderness area thanks to Leopold.

Gila Wilderness, the world’s first wilderness area, created due to Leopold’s efforts.

Leopold draws me to him for the same reason my eminent last year drew me towards him. Aldo Leopold has done so much, yet compared to billionaire entrepreneurs and politicians, little is written about him online. Additionally, his writing simply captivates my attention. I picked up the Sand Count Almanac expecting to read a series of essays with quotations and piles of evidence, but what I found was so much more. In fact, the first part of the book didn’t even seem to be making a point. Instead, Leopold took me through a journey, a twelve month journey on Leopold’s Wisconsin farm. Leopold turned his surroundings into philosophical statements about nature, such as when he took a journey back in time as he cut into a tree, comparing the environmental and historical changes that occurred during the time each ring of the tree formed. His writing was not what I expected, but it was a pleasant surprise.

These are some of the ways I compare with Leopold.

Aldo Leopold Jerome Cho
Male Male
German-American Descent Korean Descent
German as first language, but gained fluency in English Korean as first language, but gained fluency in English
Spent entire life in North America Spent most of life in North America
Upper-middle class Middle class
Lived within close proximity to nature Lives within close proximity to nature
Did a lot of outdoor activities as a child Does a lot of outdoor activities
Lived through a time of environmental change (Capitalism and exploitation) Lives through a time of environmental change (global warming)
“Prophet” (explained below) Undecided

Leopold and I both have an appreciation for nature, which both us can ascribe to our time spent in North America. For Leopold, the undeveloped sections of the Midwestern United States instilled in him a sense of respect for nature while my immigration to Canada gave me an appreciation for nature, as the wilderness here starkly contrasted the gray skyscrapers and smog of metropolitan Korea. Both of us have determination. Leopold continued to fight for environmentalism while I continue to read books, finish hikes, and continue an assignment until it is finished. I wish to emulate Leopold’s creativity, selflessness, and his philosophy. Leopold doesn’t directly exemplify my own goals in TALONS, but I hope that by emulating him, a great writer, I can improve my own writing skills and write a speech that delivers the message I want to give to my audience. Some obvious barriers prevent me front connecting with Aldo Leopold. Leopold is white, I am Asian. Leopold was alive nearly a century ago where norms and values were much more different. Leopold is also an American who was born in North America. Being an immigrant, I cannot relate to someone who was born in the country they held citizenship in. Also, Leopold is a “Prophet” or someone who seeks to counter the problem of overpopulation and Earth’s diminishing resources by cutting back. Meanwhile, I am still undecided. While I believe in some of Leopold’s ideas, I still believe that the future’s conflicts can be solved through biotechnology that allows us to produce more per acre and use fuels more efficiently rather than making a complete switch by cutting back. Fortunately, I happen to have texts that Leopold wrote himself. By reading and emulating the books Leopold authored, I hope to understand his voice and present an accurate representation of Aldo Leopold on Night of the Notables.

Well, eminent’s here again, and it’s the last one. *DEEP BREATH* Let’s make this one good, Jerome.

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