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The land ethic invites humans to include land—including soil, water, plants, and animals—in their moral calculations as they consider different course of actions. The land ethic was developed and argued for by Aldo Leopold in his book 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 the triangle is also dependent on the layer below it for survival. The bottom layer is made up of the ...

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