Aug 182011
 
Pair of lions in West Midlands Safari Park

Image via Wikipedia

As the Greek economy maintains its slide towards default and the global climate continues to change for the worse, one organisation, writing in Biotropica, has come up with some novel answers to both problems.

Reforest the country to offset historic deforestation and reintroduce long extinct animals such as lions, boosting the economy through eco-tourism.

The Coalition of Financially Challenged Countries With Lots of Trees (CoFCCLoT) also count the introduction of wild gorillas to Spain and the return of forests in G8 nations back to pre-industrial levels, among its suggestions for global sustainability.

CoFCCLoT of course does not exist. However, argue Erik Meijaard and Douglas Sheil, from the University of Queensland and the Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation respectively, this fictitious organization’s demands are an example of the effective use of satire to bridge seemingly impassable gaps in the understanding of politically contentious issues.

“Mockery is seldom part of the scientific approach, but it is effective when it comes to sustainability and the environment,” said Meijaard. “Scientists tend to approach problems using objective logic and data, ignoring the emotional content and subjective values. Conservation science is especially vulnerable as it is about values as much as facts.”

The use of satire to cut to the heart of a crisis has a noble history stretching back to 1729 and Jonathan Swifts Modest Proposal to consider cannibalism as an answer to the economic plight of the improvised Irish community. It is this tradition, Meijaard and Sheil argue, which should be embraced by climate and conservation communicators today.

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