Navigation Links
Abandon hope
Date:2/20/2009

Do you "hope" that everyone will see the light and start living more sustainably to save the environment? If so, you may be doing more harm than good.

So say an environmental scientist and an environmental ethicist in a provocative essay in the March 2009 issue of the international journal, The Ecologist. John Vucetich, assistant professor of animal ecology at Michigan Technological University, and Michael Nelson, associate professor of environmental ethics at Michigan State University, challenge the widespread belief that hope can motivate people to solve overwhelming social and environmental problems.

"Is hope a placebo, a distraction, merely sowing the seeds of disillusionment?" they ask, in an opinion piece titled "Abandon Hope." The authors, co-founders and directors of the Conservation Ethics Group, an of environmental ethics consultancy, examine the proper role of hope in environmentalism. They suggest that hope's alternative is not hopelessness or despair, but rather the inherent virtue of "doing the right thing."

For decades, say Vucetich and Nelson, we have been hammered by the ceaseless thunder of messages predicting imminent environmental cataclysm: global climate change, air and water pollution, destruction of wildlife habitat, holes in the ozone. The response of environmentalistsfrom Al Gore to Jane Goodallto this persistent message of hopelessness has focused on the need to remain hopeful.

But hope may actually be counter-productive, Vucetich and Nelson suggest. "I have little reason to live sustainably if the only reason to do so is to hope for a sustainable future, because every other message I receive suggests that disaster is guaranteed," they explain.

People are hearing radically contradictory messages:

  • Scientists present evidence that profound environmental disaster is imminent.
  • It is urgent to live up to an extremely high standard of sustainable living.
  • The reason to live sustainably is that doing so gives hope for averting disaster.
  • Yet disaster is inevitable.

"Given a predisposition to mistrust authorities, such contradictions justifiably elicit mistrust," say Vucetich and Nelson.

If hope for averting environmental disaster is not the right reason to live sustainably, what is? The scholars say we must provide people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective, based on virtues rather than consequences. That means equating sustainable living not with hope for a better future, but with basic virtues such as sharing and caring, virtues that we recognize as good in themselves and fundamentally the right way to live in the present, they explain.

One advantage to such an approach is that it can motivate even people who do not believe that we are on the brink of environmental disaster, Vucetich and Nelson point out. It also clarifies the connection between environmental and social problems, a connection many people fail to grasp.

"Instead of hope, we need to provide young people with reasons to live sustainably that are rational and effective," they say. "We need to lift up examples of sustainable living motivated by virtue more than by a dubious belief that such actions will avert environmental disaster."


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Donovan
jdonovan@mtu.edu
906-487-4521
Michigan Technological University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Stanford study: Bioenergy potential of reviving abandoned agricultural land
2. Abandoned farmlands are key to sustainable bioenergy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/23/2017)... first robotic gym for the rehabilitation and functional motor sense evaluation of ... Italy . The first 30 robots will be available from June ... . The technology was developed and patented at the IIT laboratories and ... thanks to a 10 million euro investment from entrepreneur Sergio Dompè. ... ...
(Date:4/19/2017)... York , April 19, 2017 ... as its vendor landscape is marked by the presence ... market is however held by five major players - ... Together these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the ... the leading companies in the global military biometrics market ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... , April 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a ... authentication solutions, today announced that it has been ... Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation ... "Innovation has been a driving force ... program will allow us to innovate and develop ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/19/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... June 19, 2017 , ... ... overseeing all service activities supporting EDETEK’s products including training, implementation, support, and client ... to his new role. He has previously held leadership roles for service providers ...
(Date:6/16/2017)... ... June 16, 2017 , ... Cognition ... just announced two more sessions of its “From the Helm” Webinar Series. ... world of online templates for design control exercises. Led by David Cronin, Cognition’s ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... 15, 2017 , ... Cybrexa Therapeutics, a start-up cancer therapeutics ... in the amount of $6 million. An investment vehicle affiliated with HighCape Partners, ... The Series B funding will enable Cybrexa to complete the build-out of its ...
(Date:6/15/2017)... ... June 15, 2017 , ... Adam Equipment, a leading provider ... a lab workstation. The guide outlines the procedure in four simple steps, using ... AVT anti-vibration table, OIML/ASTM certified weights, and Adam DU specialized software. , A ...
Breaking Biology Technology: