Conservation Boring and Out of Touch

Not a new argument from me; or indeed within the conservation “movement”. But seems timely, given a few recent conversations, including with a journalist friend who remarked on environment being “boring” even though important to him.

Such things may not matter to you if you’re involved in the environment simply as a job, or to score some political points.

But if you care about change for the better, slowing the destruction of our natural world, surely of huge importance to consider.

Green messaging seems worthy, but so very very dull. Even word “green”. And remote from the lives of most people; ok to discuss in occasional meetings with a handful of greenies round a table, or in inter-greenie emails. But otherwise? - how to reach people, get widespread support?

Of course facts are important; so too legislation, zoning and so on. On their own, however, just lifeless, sterile, unappealing to all but a tiny minority.

I’ve expressed anger with government over BSAP [Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan]. Yet surely within greenies here, deserve some of the blame too. Even the name, "BeeSap", is so god-awfully uninspiring, just gibberish jargon to many.

This is not a Hong Kong issue. Worldwide, conservation is losing, losing fast. Messaging is so often mind-numbingly dull. Have you seen the Convention on Biological Diversity website?

Screenshot here; at one time, there’s a photo with nine men in suits… …

Compare some of the anti-conservationists, especially versus climate change: appalling science, strong “marketing” with appeals straight to ordinary folks. - 'Morano said climate change predictions were failing, comparing them to "medieval witchcraft, where we used to blame witches for controlling the weather.”’ [Hell, Yeah!!!]

And in Hong Kong, greenie-ism countered by claims that concreting means “development”, as if all people will magically have better lives. And who doesn’t want more money? [Some apparently want only money; but most want a variety - including breathable air, greenery nearby etc] One of UK’s best environmental writers, George Monbiot: "I have asked meetings of green-minded people to raise their hands if they became defenders of nature because they were worried about the state of their bank accounts. Never has one hand appeared. Yet I see the same people base their appeal to others on the argument that they will lose money if we don’t protect the natural world. Such claims are factual, but they are also dishonest: we pretend that this is what animates us, when in most cases it does not. The reality is that we care because we love. Nature appealed to our hearts, when we were children, long before it appealed to our heads, let alone our pockets. Yet we seem to believe we can persuade people to change their lives through the cold, mechanical power of reason, supported by statistics.”

No easy answers. In fact, extremely difficult.

But we should do better.

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Martin Williams's picture

further email on this:

Not long after I wrote of conservation being boring and out of touch came news of angry villagers felling trees at So Lo Pun.

And I thought, there you are: prime example of the gulf between conservation ideas in city offices, and what’s needed in places.

Yeah, so there are some wicked people in village areas at times; some greedy business folks around.

But also, there’s genuine anger; not so surprising if people with land are told they can do almost nothing with it, and no plans to help them [or pretty close to none; disdain for villagers not so handy].

Should be better than this. More common ground.

Just read long article on “new conservation” - inc approaches of big conservation organisations, worldwide.
Essentially, shift to more nebulous things like ecosystem services” which seem jolly good, but capture no one’s imagination.

I started in conservation with grounding in era such as with “Save the Whales” - a popular clarion call making its way onto badges, t shirts etc.
Seemed upbeat, popular.
“somewhat raise the carbon sequestration potential” hardly has same appeal.
- and so, conservation withers even as it’s more important than ever.

That big article concludes:

"we can still ask: is what we’re doing working? Are we changing hearts and minds? Are we fighting the good fight? Will species be alive tomorrow that wouldn’t be here if not for our efforts? Or have we somehow lost our way — did we go astray somewhere — and if so how do we get back on track? After all, life is at stake.”
https://news.mongabay.com/2016/04/big-conservation-gone-astray/