A Sand County Almanac Essay, Research Paper
A Sand County Almanac
Published in 1949
Oxford University Press, Inc.
Would I recommend A Sand County Almanac to someone I know? Depending upon who it was, I would definitely recommend this book. I think I would suggest this book for someone who enjoys the outdoors. But someone who does not appreciate the outdoors, in my opinion, would not get as much out of the book. The reason I would recommend this book is because I thought it did a splendid job describing the tinniest things and making them interesting. Who would have known that reading about chickadees feeding or describing a bur oak would be interesting to read? The first part of the book is broken down into months, while the final part really goes into Leopold’s land ethics.
Parts I and II of A Sand County Almanac are recounts of different episodes of Leopold’s life. It is perhaps these recollections that were the inspiration for his land ethic theory. When Leopold is describing his life on his sand farm in Wisconsin, the reader seems to get the sense that even though a bigger and better society is passing before his eyes, he tries to go back to the way things were. According to Leopold, this is where one can still find the existence of God. Throughout Part II of the book, Leopold recollects some past situations that have taught him the problems arising in the world around us.
What exactly is land ethics? According to Leopold, “Land ethics expands the boundaries of ethics by including soils, waters, plants, and animals,” (Leopold, page 239). However, a land ethic cannot prevent the alteration, management, and the use of the resources stated above. Basically, Leopold states that land ethics change the role that we humans play from that of a land-conqueror to that of a citizen and member. In class, we learned that land ethics imply respect for the surrounding community. We as humans are important, and thus, have more responsibility to protect the environment.
Leopold’s land pyramid describes the hierarchical dynamics of the biotic community. Based upon what we learned in class, a biotic community is the relationship between soil and animals. It is a sum of all the parts within the community. The pyramid represents layers within the biotic community. The bottom layer is the soil. A plant layer rests upon the soil layer, an insect layer lies atop the plants, a bird and rodent layer rests upon the insects. The pyramid works its way up the various animal groups until it finally comes to the peak layer, which consists of the lager carnivorous animals. Leopold places humans in the top layer.
There was one idea in particular that really struck me in this book. Though it is merely a story in part II and not a main point in the book, I found the hunt for his first duck quite interesting. I could relate to what he was saying. He describes himself as a young aspiring hunter shooting his first duck with a single-barreled shotgun. He waited and waited until a duck finally flew over and he shot him. The joy of the first kill was jubilant. I remember when I shot my first pheasant as an aspiring hunter. I felt a sense of power. Watching the bird slowly descend was quit a rush, considering I was only ten years old at the time.
As for another idea that I can relate to, I would have to say the idea of the land pyramid is something that affects me. This is something that we all depend upon. The layers are dependent upon the other and without the presence of one; all other layers would not be able to properly function. I think it does a good job of showing the importance each layer has in our environment. Soil is the basis for all life, and that is why it is at the bottom of the pyramid.