Steve Odin (1997); The Japanese Concept of Nature in Relation to the Environment Ethics and Conservation
Aesthetics of Aldo Leopold; in Tucker M.E.; Ryuken D.W. (editors); Buddhism and Ecology - The
Interconnection of Dharma and Deed; Harvard University Press - USA;
Aldo Leopold a wildlife biologist of the 1930's and 40's, proclaimed "a land ethic" that should
change the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.
His land ethic redefines conservation from maximizing the utility of natural resources to "a state of
harmony between humanity and the land." A.Leopold, along with the geomantic philosophy of East Asia,
can be seen as providing theoretical support for what is known in environmental philosophy as the GAIA theory
(or World System Science as it is also known). Extending this concept by including aspects of
Deep Ecology, Land Ethics, and Social Ecology should give some guidelines:
- i) The original GAIA hypothesis was put forth in the late 1960's by the British atmospheric chemist
James E.Lovelock. Gaia is the name of an ancient Greek earth goddess who was the mother of Titans.
's original view concerned his observation that phenomena like mean global temperature and
the salinity or alkalinity of the oceans are not fixed but rather move around a roving set point.
That is, these phenomena are regulated over certain ranges by the combined interactions of the earth's air,
water, surface soil, and living things (biota). This resembles the kind of self-regulation we see in other
organisms and that many regard as a central feature of any living organism. According to this view, all of
the various constituents of the biota are part of a larger comprehensive system, which operates more like
living organisms than any mechanical system. Because he accepts the fact that life on earth is continually
evolving. This single organism, Gaia, keeps changing. No species, no particular part of Gaia is, in principle
indispensable to health.
- i) Supporters of the Deep Ecology theory tend to regard ecosystems as single bodies with sub-entities
whose mutual influences generate the greater dynamic of the natural world; this implies that each organism
is of equal value and hence, should be protected and preserved as it is.
- i) Biologists such as Aldo Leopold, who formulated the Land Ethic Theory, are dedicated to
conserve nature. Their guiding principle is balance or harmony of the natural realm. Moreover, he recognizes
that human beings play a prominent role as both users and caretakers of nature:
1. That land is a community .... the basic concept of ecology;
2. The land is to be loved and respected .... an extension of ethics;
3. The land yields a cultural as well as an esthetic harvest;