By Tibor Hartel
Here I present a caricature about how I perceive the reaction of intellect to the biodiversity loss and biosphere crisis.
The problem is that while there are many signs about the social and economic consequences of biodiversity loss, soil, air pollution and other types of environmental degradation, the society as a whole acts still like a wall – being resistant to the suggested ways to cope/solve these problems. To quote the Hungarian thinker Béla Hamvas: ‘It is amasing how pwople do not allow to be disturbed in their own breack down’.
The resistance (with few exceptions) is clear. But how scientists cope with/react to this resistance? I think with creating even more concepts and recombining the existing ones i.e. to ‘clarify’ them. Because, scientists may think: ‘This or that concept is still not clear enough, and this is why it is ineffective’. And here it is when the ‘blabla’ start to fluorish and the intellect start to fly and depart from the reality, creating even more confusions and fog around the problem while the environment is deteriorating.
I think that the 5001th publication may not be too efficient in clarifying something what was not clarified in the previous 5000 papers.
A potential way (not alternative but complementer) may be to develop clever strategies and platforms to allow information flow from regions of the planet which are very affected by some (human induced) natural disasters to regions where these are still not obvious yet. To allow sharing experiences and learning (even using ‘virtual presences’ in affected regions e.g. through the facilities offered by internet). This is something which can be done – more than ever before in this highly connected world.
For example, an increasing number of people (farmers) in Transylvania (Romania) start to talk about the increasingly dry and hot summers in recent years (when I talk with my grandmother the first thing she mention in the phone is: ‘there were no rains this summer…’ and after that she ask me how I am, what I do.) One reaction of the intellect to such a situation can be to develop a scientific project and create evidence: ‘summers are hot, and people indeed perceive that summers are hot’. And to propose management solutions for policy makers. An other way may be to i) address the problem in a scientific way and ii) to develop a ground to inform them: ‘your observations seem to be right: in many regions of this planet dryness and other extreme climatic phenomena creates problems to people…’. And maybe continue with some good examples of what other people do to reduce the erosion of the pastures or other vital resources in the front of these unpreceded variations. To make them realize: it is nothing wrong to think about the protection of your resources in a ‘different way’.
Probably if academics would start with a more mindful shape of the thinking of people – e.g. by building on their observations, knowledge and fears – and the information flow would be speeded up, this may prepare that social intellectual/knowledge grounds on which sustainability ideas can be built. Other way academics and real world people may live in parallel worlds with very little overlaps. This may result in even more frustrations and even more ‘blablas’ to solve the frustrating situations.