Time to abandon hope and propose a new approach to environmental change
Michael Nelson and John Vucetich
1st February, 2009
If we hope really hard maybe things will get better – or maybe it’s time to consider a new plan of action. Michael Nelson and John Vucetich propose a virtuous approach to environmental change.
It's a troubled world, and motivating people to take action to live sustainably is a difficult task.
Barack Obama’s campaign during last year’s US presidential election brought into the spotlight the role of hope as a critical – even ‘audacious’ – motivator. But can hope really help motivate and solve unprecedented social and environmental problems? Or is hope a placebo, a distraction merely sowing the seeds of disillusionment?
Consider what may be the environmental message of our time, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. There is no doubt that the film and book are convincing, and offer good reasons for why we should change our relationship with nature: global climate change is real, humans are to blame and human society needs to change radically to stand any chance of averting the worst of this crisis. But its reasons for why I should change my relationship with nature are weak: if I live sustainably, and others do the same, then there is reason for hope for averting environmental disaster.
An Inconvenient Truth fails the obstacle presented by all ‘Tragedies of the Commons’ (when individuals acting independently in their own self-interest ultimately...
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