Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at  gardengurumontreal.ca

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in Benjamin Vogt (1)

Thursday
Feb252010

Saving the Planet is Not an Easy Task.

Some people believe that humans were placed on earth to be caretakers of the planet and that we are obliged to pass it on to the next generation in the same good condition as we found it. However, it is also clear that our civilization has evolved to a level of sophistication that has done some harm to the environment and any attempt to reverse that harm will create adverse consequences to the advanced economies of countries like our own. There is a real threat that, if we attempt to heal the planet unilaterally, the cost will make us uncompetitive worldwide. As a result, economies of weaker countries will benefit at our expense. That is not an acceptable scenario because we cannot afford to lose any more jobs to emerging nations. Our economy is suffering enough. The threat to our commercial well-being is one of the issues that make the debate about protecting the environment so controversial. Here is an interesting perspective on the subject:

One of my favorite garden bloggers is Benjamin Vogt at The Deep Middle. Not only is he passionate about gardening and the environment but he is also a gifted writer. Recently, he suggesting that we do so little to stop further damage to the environment because we do not have the right language to motivate. He refers to that as not having the right metaphors to inspire others into action. Mr. Vogt observes that we have the right metaphors to incite the population to demand equal pay for women and to demand protection from street muggers but we do not have the right metaphor to communicate the serious consequences of abusing the environment.

In a dialogue exchange with other readers of Mr. Vogt’s blog, I wrote that metaphors do not inspire politicians. America exists because the signers of the Declaration of Independence needed a country free of interference so that they might conduct their business affairs in a profitable and unfettered manner. That set the tone for business and government, a long time ago. Today, a tangible benefit is what motivates movers and shakers into action. Ideologically driven legislation that does not translate into profits for some, or that weakens the commercial competitiveness of others, is enacted rarely because, I suspect, idealism and altruism are not the American way.

The challenge for those who want to prevent the further degradation of our planet is to learn the language of business. Demonstrate how saving the environment will either benefit the economy, or might be profitable for industry, and politicos will perk up their ears and listen. Continue to beat the drum about the woes of pollution or the disappearance of wildlife and only environmentalists and tree huggers will take notice. Here is a portion of the population that, on one hand, is still too small and ineffective to make a difference. On the other hand, it speaks in a voice that does not command sufficient respect; it focuses solely on ideal solutions and ignores the negative consequences these solutions might create. Furthermore, an environmentalist preaching to other environmentalists is not the way to get things done because only a few are listening. Those that care about our planet need to start over by finding a voice that will resonate with Those That Can Make Things Happen. To date, they have not been very successful.