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Land Use and Environmental Ethics

The development of environmental ethic as a possible solution of environmental problems

Land use entails proper execution as well as adaptation of natural environment into finer fields, purposes of settlements and pastures. It can also be referred to as the arrangement of actions together with inputs that are undertaken by people within a given land cover to generate outputs. Of course, such important issue is considered by many people. For instance, such authors as Christopher Hallowell, John Muir and Aldo Leopold, analyzed this problem.

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They paid particular attention to different aspects of the problem, but they came to one and the same conclusion that the land use should be wise and people should be responsible for their actions. It is impossible to contradict this common truth which consists in the necessity to work out environmental ethic which can lead to the necessary balance.

Muir’s main objectives in “The American Forests”

Land is used for residential, institutional, business and industrial land utilization which in urban areas basically refers to the putting of factories, refineries and utilities. In rural areas it incorporates smelters, mills and mines. Agriculture and forestry utilization are another uses of land. John Muir’s famous essay “The American Forests” can be a realistic illustration of that use. Muir (2005) claims that forests used to be “a great delight to God”, but human activity has changed it dramatically (Muir, 2005, p.7). Muir (2005) depicts various ways people almost exterminated due to unwise use.

The main factors which contributed to the decreasing the amount of forests in the United States are the activity of pioneers who were opening up new lands, the development of technology and industry (deforestation because of the road building), even careless activity of individuals (fires, unwise use of trees). Muir (2005) states that government and business are responsible for such use, providing particular data, for instance, “the act of June 3, 1878” allowed to “cut timber” for industrial purposes which “in the practical West means both cutting and burning anywhere and everywhere” (Muir, 2005, p.9).

It is necessary to point out that while criticizing American policies concerning forests Muir (2005) points out wise policies of some European countries like Swiss or France which managed to understand the importance of preserving forests and implement the necessary measures to preserve them. Of course, Muir (2005) does not insist on inviolability of American forests but rather on wise use of the natural resources stressing that government, business and individuals should take the necessary measures to save forests.

Hawken’s ideas in the environmental study

Of course, not only forests need such wise use policy. Thus, Hawken et al. (2005) consider the overall environmental situation and possible solutions. Tracing the development of various environmental trends in the society Hawken et al. (2005) come to the depiction of the modern situation. Thus, first people concentrated on different social aspects of the humanity development, however, at present many see the necessity to pay more attention to the wise use of land and other natural resources.

Fortunately, people came to understanding that definite steps should be made to prevent humanity from more serious problems in the future. Hawken et al. (2005) point out that “politics, economics” which are “increasingly joined now by both religion and science” veer to the so-called “sustainability” (Hawken, 2005, p.224). Thus, Hawken et al. suggest that “natural capitalism” which consists in the development of the society following the major principles of sustainability is possible.

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Aldo Leopold’s environmental ethics

However, the major dilemma of the issue is raised by Aldo Leopold (2005) who considers the question of environmental ethic. In fact, this becomes a very if not essential point to understand to solve environmental problems. Leopold (2005) suggests that people should work out and follow “a land ethic” which should change “the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it” (Leopold, 2005, p.19).

It is essential to understand that people should make sure that their activity cannot change drastically the biotic system. Leopold (2005) admits that people should use land and its resources but people cannot interfere in the development of this system because any change can lead to unpredictable consequences. Leopold (2005) suggests that people should take into account social economical and even political aspects working out the land ethic the main postulate of which is as follows: “a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community” (Leopold, 2005, p.31).

The reasons of the decisions about the appropriate use of land and water resources

Of course, when considering the issues of land use it is essential to pay attention to a large scope of factors. The three authors (Muir, Hawken and Leopold) provide prominent ideas which can help to find the right solution. Thus, Muir and Hawken (2005) focus on the importance of wise land use which can be determined by governmental policies. By all means, the government should be responsible for implementing various measures aimed at improving environmental situation.

It goes without saying that economic factors are also very important since it is hardly possible to make people think of future generations when they do not have the appropriate supplement. However, to my mind, Muir and Hawken (2005) pay too much attention to things which are quite secondary, points that should only support the main factor. Leopold (2005) raises the crucial factor which can influence the development of the necessary change in society.

First and foremost, it is essential to make people understand that people are not the masters of everything present on the Earth but a part of biotic system which cannot be distort. Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to the creation and further implementation of environmental ethics. People should understand that they cannot change the system they live in, because the whole system can be ruined and the entire humanity which is a part of it can also decline.

The use of land and water resources on the basis of environmental ethics

Thereby, it is essential for people to work out the comprehensive environmental ethics and follow its principles. People should understand that they are a part of a complicated system integrity of which cannot be violated. However, it is also necessary to point out that economic, social and political aspect should also be taken into account to make the environmental ethics feasible. This can be a very effective way to solve the problem of using lands and other natural resources.

Reference List

Muir, J. (2005). The American Forests. In Christopher Hallowell and Walter Levy (Ed.), Listening to Earth (pp. 7-13). New York: Pearson Longman.

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Leopold, A. (2005). The Land Ethic. In Christopher Hallowell and Walter Levy (Ed.), Listening to Earth (pp. 18-31). New York: Pearson Longman.

Hawken, P., Lovins, A., Lovins, L.H. (2005). Once Upon a Planet. In Christopher Hallowell and Walter Levy (Ed.), Listening to Earth (pp. 210-224). New York: Pearson Longman.

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