Phantom limb syndrome happens not only among soldiers and firefighters who have lost an arm or a leg, but feel as if it is still with them. It also occurs in a natural community, which somehow “ecologically re-members” what it has lost, and seeks some organism out which can fill that empty niche. Or perhaps natural communities need those of us with some ecological conscience to voice to our society what has been amputated from the land.
That, I think, is what Aldo Leopold referred to in that often-quoted prophetic note, “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
Brother Coyote, OEF