Land Ethic: Mitigation vs. Adaptation
Claudia, CS16, Grand Rapids, MI

According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the most pressing motivation for humans is our physiological needs. Those needs include air, water, food and shelter. One thing all of these have in common is that they originate from the natural world. Since the beginning of time, these physiological needs had been the first priority of all civilization until urbanization and modernization altered the way we think. Now, it does not even cross most people's minds where those resources come from and how their use affects the environment. My land ethic will be centered around the conservative use of depletable resources and the preservation of beautiful wildlife that has been and will remain untouched.

In my life, I have always been surrounded by people who care about the natural world and strive to enjoy the beauty of it and to be respectful. I have been going on adventures anywhere from my backyard to some of the largest National Parks for as long as I can remember. Ever since learning about climate change and how it is predicted to affect the beautiful landscapes I've experienced, I believe that we should take action with mitigation as opposed to adaptation. Since humans have had such a massive role in the contamination of the land, I do not think it is okay to sit by and "let nature take its course". It is a simple example of tragedy of the commons. Adaptation is adjusting what we do to benefit ourselves but taking action with mitigation would ultimately save the organisms threatened greatly by the changing climate.


I have learned a lot about native american culture and the importance of giving back to the land through spiritual and physical means. As Robin Wall Kimmerer says in her article on reciprocity, it is necessary show gratitude for what the earth provides. Prayer and offerings to the environment are ways to express that thankfulness. I think it is important to be grateful for what is too often taken for granted. Coexisting with the land and all that occupies it is superior to assuming a higher role as conqueror and making an attempt to control what is not rightfully ours.

In the future, I would like to better understand my land ethic by becoming more observant and aware of the impact I myself and my community leave on the environment. I would like to participate in more community service and put a lot of dedication into my Taking Action Project. My TAP consists of multiple small projects taking place in a small organization I hope to create among my peers. Ultimately, I would like to make others conscientious of their power when it comes to making change on a local level.