Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Preaching to the Choir?

Love + Action= Public Change
Need + Action= Policy Change

But first, watch this.

Are you impressed?
Probably you are - but then again, you are reading a Shark diving and Shark conservation blog, meaning that you probably already love nature and the ocean (read it!) and need no convincing anyway!
As Kevin points out in this brilliant post, this kind of negative messaging equates preaching to the choir and does not really advance the narrative beyond our circles.

Now please watch the following, already mentioned here.

Indeed, that's how you do it - Love not Loss!
The image at the top is from an interesting document by Futerra, the smart hip sustainability communications agency from the UK. It of course ties in beautifully with Angelo's comment about E.O. Wilson's Biophilia and is inherently absolutely true.

The problem?
The track record sucks!
Ever since Homo sapiens (and probably its ancestors) graced to walk the planet, his most pervasive legacy has been one of scorched earth and extinction, very much along the lines of Diamond's Third Chimpanzee. Are we now more evolved and smarter, to the point where we will recognize the error of our ways?

Maybe - at least that's the hope!
But the conundrum lays in trying to match conservation with the needs and aspirations of 7 billion people - and there, I'm not terribly hopeful as the so-called leaders appear fatally mired in the present and lacking any credible vision for the future.
Like in conservation, the message needs to be Positive - and yet, all I'm really seeing are flawed strategies about how best to manage a process which is being labeled as some kind of gradual retreat. That's certainly not motivating and not the way to ensure that the populace will ever embrace sustainability - and in fact, when asked, they generally do not!

Luckily for us in Shark conservation, thus far, nobody is asking.
Most of the recent advances have not been democratic processes but instead, the result of the right people talking to the authorities at the right time, sometimes with a bit of outreach/petitions thrown in for good measure.
So far so good - but only time will tell if those achievements will endure.

If we ever want to be successful in building a widespread consensus for sustainability, we indeed need to focus on positive messaging, both in conservation and in politics.
But at the same time, we need to stop playing little Dutch boy whilst ignoring the root cause, population growth and the growth of individual ecological footprints.
That's the Big Gorilla!

Ultimately, if we cannot tackle that, this cause is lost - and since we really cannot possibly ask anybody to forgo his aspirations for a better life, the ONLY possible solution is to advocate a substantial (!) reduction in birth rates.

And on this happy note, back to the Sharks!

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