Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ecotopia's Emperor has No Clothes OR It's Not a Lie if You Believe It

It is hot and dry in the Pacific Northwest.  There is a record drought and acres of forest are burning.  More than a quarter of a million sockeye salmon are dying because the rivers are so hot.  There is toxic algae in the Willamette River.  And,  the city that, just this past weekend, held a big float celebration to show it has cleaned up its river has issued a health advisory.  Things don't seem to be going so great for the environment in the magic kingdom of Ecotopia.

The term motivated inference refers to contexts where people's beliefs are biased by their goals  (great academic piece here).  In such situations, like climate change, it is difficult for individuals to consider problems that contradict their individual or collective sense of identity.    Climate change poses such an instance;  Portland sets forth a particularly frustrating conundrum.  In what many have heralded as America's greenest city, environmental problems have been met with boosterism versus real solutions.  If solutions are put forth, they are first and foremost  ones that satisfy the goal of making capitalism, if you will, is one example of misplaced perception of action. 

At some point, new behaviors and paradigms will be needed.  I think we are upon that precipice now. Given current conditions of environmental engagement, our goals must shift from boosterism and wealth to connectedness and conservation.  I think of Derek Jensen's adage: "you can't have sex without your land base".  That's an attention grabber and might get folks thinking.  But, I'm sure there's a savvy marketing notion that could somehow distract us.  Oh least the water is warm and colorful.

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