Nature, a conversation IV

Partovo:  Agreed.  But you should remember that some people move into such areas when the price of real estate drops to levels they can afford.  That’s the way markets work to balance supply and demand.  Dare I say, it’s a natural process?

The previous post ended as above.  Continuing the three roles: Partovo (“Humans are a Part Of nature”); Separata (“Humans have become Separate from nature”); or Interpreta (“Interpret Socially views about nature and what is natural”)…

Interpreta:  I suspected you would.  And by that thinking it’s then natural or, one might say, acceptable, that the people who move into the area suffer the health costs, while the corporations that secured the military R&D contracts gain the profits.  The general point I want to make is that almost everything that both of you has said in trying to defend your views about nature has been based on your views about acceptable vs. unacceptable aspects of society.  So, Separata, I don’t think “nature” holds up as a point of reference for deciding what’s acceptable or not.

Separata:  But if not nature, what else?

Interpreta:  You’ve already told us what — for you it’s human health and ecological sustainability; for Partovo, it’s economic growth, with risks that can be distributed unequally among groups within society.

Partovo:  I might observe that the notion that we can plan for ecological sustainability in a complex world sounds as full of “unsupported assumptions” as Separata criticized me for having with respect to economic growth and technological development.

Interpreta:  Right — I’m glad Separata’s point sunk in enough for you to wield it in return…. Separata, you’re looking perplexed.  What are you thinking?

Separata:  I know ecology is complex, all the more so when humans are involved — as is almost always the case.  And I admit that I invoke simple ideas such as “draining wetlands disturbs the balance of nature.”  But I do this to grab attention.  Once I have it, I can point out the decline of waterbird and migrating bird populations and get people interested in checking development.  I just wouldn’t get to first base if I said, “I’m against development.”

Partovo:  And you’re not against all development, either.  I think you like national parks to be fenced off from farms and for those parks to be managed so that campers don’t destroy the forests, kill the animals, pollute the lakes…

Separata:  And you’re not for all development either.  I think you like the vacations I’ve heard you take on the clean uncrowded beaches of Cuba.

Partovo:  (Sheepishly)  And I’ve also enjoyed going with my family on nature tours in the Amazon and in Kenya.

Separata:  But, back to my worry.  I have to reduce complexity if I’m going to get attention and enlist people into a campaign.  It’s not until we have people involved that we can even get research done on the ecological dynamics — to establish how vulnerable the wetland is; how quickly it could recover from stress; whether we can create a new wetland on land developers don’t want.  And that’s just the research needed on the ecological dynamics.  Imagine if I had to research the economic costs and benefits before raising my concerns!

Partovo:  You could rely on developers to assess the costs and benefits.  They wouldn’t go ahead if they were likely to take a loss.

Separata:  There you go again — you forget that corporations make sure that they don’t carry all the costs.  They displace some on to other people and rely on not having to pay for loss of wildlife populations when development destroys the animals’ habitats.

Partovo:  OK, but let me echo your concerns.  If we had to assess all the costs — present and future, social and environmental — of proposed projects, it’d take years before we could advance on new industry and other development.  The economy would be greatly constrained.  And we all need a vibrant economy.

Separata:  We don’t all benefit equally and some bear greater costs…

Partovo:  … OK. OK.  But that’s unavoidable.  Anyway, egregious abuses eventually lead to reform legislation and government regulation.

Interpreta:  That seems a very coarse way to take environmental and health costs into account.

to be continued

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2 thoughts on “Nature, a conversation IV

  1. Pingback: Nature, a conversation V « Intersecting Processes

  2. Pingback: Nature, a conversation III « Intersecting Processes

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