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Environmental Ethics

Volume 37, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Holmes Rolston, III
Pages 45-55

Rediscovering and Rethinking Leopold’s Green Fire

Aldo Leopold shot a wolf a hundred years ago, the most iconic wolf kill in conservation history, a shooting now historically confirmed, which three decades later he elevated into his “green fire” metaphor and symbol. There are tensions. Was Leopold a hypocrite? He spent the rest of his life hunting and trying to produce more game to kill. Thinking like a mountain, thinking big in the big outdoors, there is a dramatic shift of focus from a dying wolf’s eyes to a land ethic. Thinking big enough, globally, Leopold saving wolves, or wilderness, or game management seems simplistic and parochial before global warming or environmental justice. Still, Leopold is on a moral frontier.