Aldo Leopold

I'm reading Mitch Tobin's Endangered: Biodiversity on the Brink, and so far I am definitely enjoying the book and learning a lot.  One quote that Tobin uses is attributed to Aldo Leopold, who made a statement that should give us pause in our feverish efforts to change and fragment our final remaining wilderness:

"The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not.  If the biota, in the course of aeons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering."

This quote reminded me of criticisms by proponents of increased industrialization and urbanization of open spaces in the Mojave Desert, arguing that the desert tortoise, Mohave ground squirrel, or Mojave milkweed do not deserve to be given consideration as dozens of corporations swarm to develop the Mojave into an industrial landscape.   Some might ask: What good is a Mojave fringe-toed lizard when we could bulldoze the dunes and build a transmission line?

The 'cogs' in the Mojave Desert are in peril, and as more development is done in haste, more critical pieces in this delicate ecosystem will disappear and lead to the collapse of something beautiful that we take for granted.   And then we'll be left with photographs in museums.


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