The land ethic invites humans to include land—soil, water, plants, and animals—in their moral calculations as they consider different courses of actions. It was developed and argued for by Aldo Leopold in The Sand County Almanac, first published in 1949.

Leopold rejects the traditional view of human dominance over nature. In its place he proposes what he titles a “land triangle.” As Leopold explains, this triangle is made up of many different layers. Each of the layers shares one single characteristic. Members of any given layer are alike in the type of food or energy that they consume. Each layer of soil, and in the layers above it, there are plants, insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals in ascending order. Humans, since they are not true carnivores, ...

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