We need Aldo Leopold a hell of a lot more now, than we did when he was alive.
Adapted from an email sent earlier today:
Leopold was a visionary - he didn't just mean to save the land for 10 or 20 years, he looked to the future. His land ethic today would drive him to fight climate change, and to communicate about how to fight it effectively, as it's the one environmental issue that overshadows (and worsens) all others; as The Economist recently put it,
"A hundred years from now, looking back, the only question that will appear important about the historical moment in which we now live is the question of whether or not we did anything to arrest climate change. "
And we're not, at all, on track to fix it - the science tells us,
" a rise in temperature of 2 degrees c (3.6 degrees f) will be extremely dangerous; a rise of 4 degrees c (7.2 degrees f) or higher could threaten civilization; [and] the only way to avoid 2 degrees c -- or even 4 degrees c -- is a massive crash program that will likely involve, for the rich, industrialized countries of the world, peaking emissions in 2015 and declining them 10 percent year-on-year after that. " ( link )
We're not doing that; the political will isn't there yet, and most who are environmentally concerned aren't acting effectively.
Aldo Leopold was no ostrich; if he'd seen a threat this massive and a public this clueless about its severity and how to fight it, he wouldn't have shirked from commitment.
Do those who honor Leopold grasp the threat posed by climate change, and are they aware of how little the larger environmentally-minded community seems to grasp how this one issue surpasses the rest in importance and long-term impact? Case in point - if you look at January's Wild & Scenic Film Festival schedule (which features a Leopold Foundation land ethic event), what message do you see its mix of films & activities sending, about the relative importance of climate change?
(Note - in fairness to W&S, their choice of films is probably audience-demand-driven; but still, there ought to be a way to inject some basic climate ed. into the event, and a moral imperative to do so, given the extent of public confusion, and the stakes.)
We've got to step up to the plate, and we need a visionary for inspiration. We need groups like the Aldo Leopold Foundation on board, and it'd be wonderful if its Wild&Scenic session could become a springboard for engagement and action.
Let's not let Aldo Leopold down; nor future generations.
"We will be judged by those who come after us, both by what we did do and what we didn't do, in the time given to us."