Aldo Leopold and Edward F. Ricketts worked at a time when ecology was a word so new to the world of ideas that they themselves rarely used it. The overarching interest they shared was in the ecological relationships of humans with the world at large. Leopold and Ricketts came from great schools: Leopold from the Yale School of Forestry, Ricketts from the University of Chicago. They had celebrated mentors: Leopold was guided by Gifford Pinchot; Ricketts was inspired by Warder Clyde Allee. Leopold and Ricketts had different approaches, but working out of shacks they came to the same conclusion: that the salvation of society, and perhaps of the human species, can be found in the workings of natural history. This is a lesson not just for their time, but for all time. Despite its absence from much of modern culture, the notion that humans cannot forever place themselves above Earth's ecosystems represents what Ricketts once called the most powerful idea of the twentieth century and “perhaps the key to the future.”.
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