A Land Ethic For Our Time – The Green Fire Still Burns

Jacklyn Nowotnik, Arts & Life Editor


courtesy Google Images

The film Green Fire, is about Aldo Leopold’s life and the way he influenced ideas of ecology, forestry and the environment, was shown at NEIU almost 6 months ago, on Nov. 14, 2011. Although Leopold passed away in 1948, the film communicates a sincere understanding of who Aldo Leopold was and how his work affected his family, biographer, and countless regular people who read and were moved by his books. The land ethic is a philosophy that Leopold introduces in his book “A Sand Country Almanac” that serves as a guide for the ethical use and protection of land, outlining both the beauty of wild natural places and usage guidelines that are still culturally relevant and important today. Leopold’s experiences as a child in the wilderness of his hometown in Iowa that prompted him to become who we know him as today, as well as his accomplishments, however what seemed to really shape this idea of a land ethic and Leopold as a whole was his moment of “green fire,” occurring when he witnessed the “green fire” leave the eyes of a wolf as she died. According to the film, a “green fire” moment is when a profound experience alters and changes one’s perception and relationship with the environment and nature. In honor of Earth Day, the NEIU Independent revisits the events surrounding the showing of Green Fire, in the hopes that it helps everyone at NEIU experience their one “green fire” moment.

Upon entering the auditorium on Nov. 14, 2011, audience members were given a green flamed shaped piece of paper and were asked to write down their own “green fire” moment, if they’d ever had one. By investing the audience members in the “green fire” exercise, they were more likely to be intrigued by the Green Fire documentary. The question beckoned people by engaging them in sharing a personal experience that fundamentally changed how they viewed nature, but for some, including me, it was not easily answered.

What was my green fire moment? I wasn’t sure if I’d even had a green fire moment. Interactions with nature can be subtle, and at first I had a little trouble trying to remember my first green fire moment. But then it hit me – my awareness of nature had flared up when I started watching a show on Animal Planet called “Sea Shepherds.” One of the first and most striking things I saw in the beginning of the show was the harpooning of a whale in the Antarctic. The creature fought valiantly for its life, but eventually its lifeless body was pulled up onto a factory ship’s slip way and then dragged onto the deck where Japanese fishermen butchered the whale’s body for “research.” The experience of watching an intelligent gentle giant die made me more conscious of the consequences of humanity’s actions when it comes to nature, the environment, the land, the sea, wildlife and our natural resources. The consequences of years of careless abuse to our environment are fast becoming more visible with every passing day, but seeing that destructive act really opened my eyes to the “green fire,” as Leopold put it.

Now in honor of Earth Day I’d like to ask the students of NEIU to send their “green fire” moments of 200 words or less to [email protected], along with their full names and major. The Independent Newspaper staff will pick several of the best ones to be published as part of next issue and those students selected will win a gift certificate to Beck’s Bookstore!