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April 11, 2021

3/25/2021 11:27:00 AM
A Land Ethic, New Technology and Sustainability

Dear Editor;
When Aldo Leopold contended that a "land ethic" must be developed socially, he might well have been reading the letters to the Editor from last week's Dodgeville Chronicle. Leopold would have been as horrified as Chuck Tenneson was when he described the Cardinal Hickory Transmission line invading the National Wildlife Refuge in Iowa. He would have been thrilled and concerned to read Dave Knappp's story of "golden" eagles in the Driftless. Aldo would have cringed with Alan Jewell and John Corran's views of our poorly regulated energy landscapes-"sleazy messes-". Like Terry Hansen, Aldo would have been heartened to share that the United States has rejoined the Paris climate agreement. He would have agreed with the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which was introduced in the last Congress; this bill puts a steadily rising fee on carbon dioxide emissions, and returns the money as dividends to households.
"It is inconceivable to me that an ethical relation to land can exist without love, respect, admiration for land, and a high regard for its value (in a philosophical sense)" ponders Aldo Leopold in the last pages of his memorable work, A Sand County Almanac. Is it possible that these very different writers, share, as Aldo Leopold does, a love of the land? Do they all respect land and have a high regard for its philosophical value? Could they agree on a land ethic for Iowa County that would improve food production, reduces water use, create energy and additional revenue?
University of Wisconsin is doing just this on its Platteville campus. They are installing a 2.4 megawatt solar array in Memorial Park on a 5 acre south facing slope. The array will feed directly to the main meter of the campus's 32 buildings, offsetting the university's electrical needs by 17% and saving $217,000 per year, while reducing carbon emissions by 2300 tons per year. The field under the array will be planted with native pollinators where a flock of sheep will graze. The university plans to enclose the area with a chain link fence. Would you agree with the Chancellor, Dennis J. Shields, that it is a "momentous step in (our) commitment to sustainability." Do you embrace a similar land ethic?
Respectfully submitted by,
Anne D. Bachner
Dodgeville, WI

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