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Leopold’s Shack and Ricketts’s Lab

The Emergence of Environmentalism

Michael Lannoo

Publication Year: 2010

Aldo Leopold and Ed Ricketts are giants in the history of environmental awareness. They were born ten years and only about 200 miles apart and died within weeks of each other in 1948. Yet they never met and they didn't read each other's work. This illuminating book reveals the full extent of their profound and parallel influence both on science and our perception of natural world today. In a lively comparison, Michael J. Lannoo shows how deeply these two ecological luminaries influenced the emergence both of environmentalism and conservation biology. In particular, he looks closely at how they each derived their ideas about the possible future of humanity based on their understanding of natural communities. Leopold and Ricketts both believed that humans cannot place themselves above earth's ecosystems and continue to survive. In light of climate change, invasive species, and collapsing ecosystems, their most important shared idea emerges as a powerful key to the future.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

...Specialization is the fashion of the day, however, and it may be the style of most human thinking for all time. That is, considering human brain architecture, it may be easier for our minds to work within the confines of defined units, or silos in the modern parlance, than it is for us to make broad cross-topic comparisons. I find it necessary, at times, to lean...

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pp. xvii-xx

...This work in this form would not have been possible without Mike Mossman, Lisa Hartman, and their son, Angus, who kindly opened up their house, and their Baraboo Hills bluff, to me. Curt Meine, the preeminent Leopold scholar, and Katie Rodger, the preeminent Ricketts scholar, agreed...

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pp. 1-7

...At about 10:30 A.M. on Wednesday, April 21, 1948, north of Baraboo, Wisconsin, Aldo Leopold left the property he dubbed the Shack to fight a brush fire that threatened his beloved pine plantings, and perhaps the Shack itself. An hour or so later, a mile east of the Shack, while reinforcing a neighbor’s wetland as a firebreak, he had a heart attack, lay...

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1. Out of the Midwest

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pp. 8-13

...Leopold and Ricketts shared a midwestern upbringing. Rand Aldo Leopold was born on January 11, 1887, in Burlington, Iowa, to first cousins Carl and Clara Leopold. Aldo was the eldest of four Leopold children; Marie was born in 1888, Carl Jr. in 1892, and Frederic in 1895. His father began his career as a traveling salesman, selling barbed wire to western...

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2. From Forester to Professor

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pp. 14-21

...Aldo Leopold’s midwestern upbringing and Ivy League education had prepared him to be a professional, but even from the beginning of his career he showed signs of being much more than that. Curt Meine writes that as a young professional, Leopold was “competent, devoted, and eager.” And...

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3. From Businessman to Sage

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pp. 22-31

...Ed Ricketts sought to parlay his midwestern work ethic and his University of Chicago experiences into a career built on nature. After he left Chicago in 1923, Ricketts and his new family settled on the Monterey Peninsula. The year before, Libbie Hyman, a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago, had studied at the Hopkins Marine Station there...

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4. Game Management

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pp. 32-35

...He conceived of the book as a much-needed unifying treatise detailing the history, theory, and practice of game management. He worked tirelessly, and for the first six months of 1931 did almost nothing but assemble the new manuscript. Later in 1931, the Sporting Arms and Ammunitions Manufacturers’ Institute “loaned” Leopold...

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5. Between Pacific Tides

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pp. 36-42

...Ed Jr. helped compile data for and create many of the book’s graphs and tables. He remembers the painstaking hours he spent making the circular chart that showed the seasonal diatom production in the Aleutian Islands and Southern California and how his father always had to double-check each calculation himself, not wanting to risk a mathematical...

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Intercalary I

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pp. 43-46

...These accomplishments, by themselves, made both men notable in their time. But had they done these works and nothing else, their legacies most likely would have been as historical figures. As the founder of the discipline, Leopold’s name would have been the first mentioned in any modern text on wildlife biology, but most of the techniques he employed...

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6. The Shack

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pp. 47-58

...received, especially among scientists, conservationists, and sportsmen. With this book he not only created an entirely new academic discipline, but when, on June 26, 1933, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation approved eight thousand dollars per year for five years to support a game management program, Leopold...

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7. The Lab

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pp. 59-74

...As Bruce Ariss colorfully describes it, Monterey Peninsula is heavily wooded, surprisingly small, and roughly circular. From Huckleberry Hill, looking only five miles in every direction, you can see the whole of its irregular and spectacular coastline. In an airplane “it looks like a bear’s head jutting out into the sea. Carmel is...

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Intercalary II

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pp. 75-78

...Leopold’s Shack and Ricketts’s Lab provided the settings for these men to transcend their professional philosophies and move into the realm of common experience. These are the places where we celebrate the spirit of the two men. Leopold’s Shack allowed him to be close to the environments he loved. It allowed him to observe...

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8. A Sand County Almanac

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pp. 79-87

...In early July 1941, Leopold flew to the Delta Waterfowl Station in Manitoba, Canada, where he conferred with his former student and station director, Al Hochbaum. As Meine details, Leopold and Hochbaum had for some time spoken informally about working together on a book of essays...

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9. Sea of Cortez

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pp. 88-98

...lot of unwanted publicity, especially from conservative politicians and groups such as the Associated Farmers. He was shaken by assertions that he had exaggerated the plight of the Okies, and by being ostracized by Californians, especially former friends (except, of course, for Ed). On October 16, 1939, Steinbeck wrote, “Now I am battered with uncertainties. That part...

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Intercalary III

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pp. 99-102

...Ricketts and Steinbeck sought something in the lives of humans akin to the unified field theory in physics. They wished to combine science and religion into a larger, more inclusive philosophical structure that could serve as a guide to living a life that is rich and full, and packed with...

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10. Daily Lives and Professional Expectations

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pp. 103-107

...If Aldo Leopold and Ed Ricketts had ever shared the same shack (in fact, they never met and were probably unaware of each other’s existence),1 there would have been every chance that at any particular point in the day, someone would have been awake. Neither slept much. Besides that, Leopold was a morning...

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11. From Natural History to Ecology

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pp. 108-116

...Much of what both Leopold and Ricketts pondered was the emerging discipline of ecology, and what ecology was beginning to tell us about humanity’s proper place in the world. They were considering their society’s emphasis on putting people above nature or outside of nature, and the derivative of this view...

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12. Leopold’s Approach

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pp. 117-124

...Nina Leopold Bradley wrote in her remembrance, “A Daughter’s Reflections,” “In an essay found among my father’s works, he had written, ‘there are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land.’ ” 1 More than anything else, it is this second interest that forms the basis of what we think about when his...

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13. Ricketts’s Approach

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pp. 125-131

...According to Richard Astro, Ricketts used the principles of ecology to grasp and understand the totality of things. His search for order was centered on a quest to find “our emotional relationship to the world conceived as a whole, . . . ‘a unified field hypothesis’ in which ‘everything is an index of everything else.’ ” 2 While most biologists, including...

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14. Shared and Complementary Perspectives

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pp. 132-140

...As noted above, throughout his life Leopold tended to be a loner, “not social, not antisocial.” His closest friends were found among his professional colleagues, graduate students, and family. He was a solitary thinker who returned to an early interest in wild game management after a long convalescence, and who later in life relied heavily on the personal...

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Intercalary IV

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pp. 141-144

...Leopold and Ricketts were born into the age of natural history and as mature scientists helped to form the emerging discipline of ecology. In retrospect, we can see that the power of Leopold’s and Ricketts’s ecology derived from its foundation in the practices and preoccupations of natural history. But today, ecology has moved on, and much of it...

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15. Transcendence

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pp. 145-150

...On Thursday, April 22, 1948, Dan Thompson, one of Leopold’s students, and his research assistant were driving south along U.S. Highway 51 in northern Wisconsin when the news of Leopold’s death came over their car radio. Stunned, and perhaps thinking about nothing so much as an emptier and more questionable future, they drove a long way in silence...

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16. Ethic and Engagement

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pp. 151-155

...Leopold formalized the mature view of his Land Ethic sixty years ago, and as a philosophy it garnered wide appreciation forty years ago. But appreciation is not acceptance. The impression is that all we need to do is empower individuals with the right philosophy and the right information and they will follow, en masse.1 This certainly hasn’t happened...

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17. Where Their Spirit Lives On

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pp. 156-160

...The spirit of Leopold and Ricketts persists, and there is some welcome evidence that it may be growing. It lies, at its most basic, in shacks, buildings that provide access to nature but do not get in the way. It is there in the hundreds of “rubber boot” biologists, usually working alone and often with little fanfare at remote sites — often field stations. It...

The Shack and the Lab

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pp. 161-162


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pp. 163-188


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pp. 189-196

E-ISBN-13: 9780520946064
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520264786

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2010