Why do I argue that the world, particularly the US, needs environmental conflict. The US has some of the strongest environmental legislation in the world. The US has some of the largest, most well-funded resource conservation NGO’s in the world. The US has the most robust network of local land trusts doing local conservation in the world. The US has, arguably, among the best public natural resource agencies in the world. OK, all of that smells just a little too patriotic. It probably isn’t all true. But, my point is that if we are worried about protecting the environment, the US, on a global scale is doing pretty well. It is ahead of many nations and the legislation passed in the US is often used as a template for other regions of the world.
A primary problem with environmental conflict is that it does not elevate into the American psyche enough for most people in most places, most of the time. Surveys of environmental concerns generally place these in the top five, but never #1. Studies also show that voting for representatives usually focuses on the top 1-3 issues, and generally not their environmental positions.
Thus, the large, diffuse populace of American citizens as stakeholders usually have under-represented voices; local citizens whose lives are affected by the promise of jobs or the fear of loss of quality of life are heard; and he typically small suite of financial stakeholders often get a large voice relative to what we might think appropriate. A vanishingly small number of large corporations have a large interests in outcomes and can influence outcomes when the public is not paying due diligence. A small number of local people have a large interest in the outcome. The battle, then is often waged over the benefits (ie, jobs) of resource exploitation versus the cost (ie, environmental degradation).
The country is currently fixated on ‘fixing’ healthcare. This has quite clearly been framed, and managed, as bad conflict. Eivdence is in the completely partisan voting, among other things. However, this actually could be a “We’re in this together” sort of problem. Everyone recognizes that health care is expensive; we all want everyone to have good health care; we know that using preventative care saves money in the long run; we all want to be able to afford health care; we all want people to behave responsibly with their health care; we all recognize that this is incredibly complex. However, we also should recognize that the government can’t afford to provide "A" level healthcare for everyone and do other things with tax revenue that we want (e.g., pay for the world’s most expensive military). What we disagree on is how much personal versus governmental responsibility there is in fixing the problem of health care, whether hospitals requiring to take on cases and help people effectively makes this a public and not a private problem, and where our federal budget priorities lie.
Those that know me understand that I have an aversion to conflict. Nevertheless, I was thinking about conflict with respect to environmental decision-making in the context of world conflict. I was pondering whther there is good conflict that is distinct from bad conflict. Maybe one of the reasons that we seem to have such extreme governmental dysfunction is because we are treating chances for good conflicts and bad conflicts. OK, so let me define what I mean.
Dear Secretary Zinke
re: Bears Ears National Monument
I am a stakeholder, and I want that National Monument.
Or am I really a stakeholder? As a US citizen, I claim I am because this is Federal land. Many folks in western states suggest that I am not, because state governments should have domain over resources within their states. I live in California. Tribal people, with respect to Bears Ears, believe that they have a primary say in the matter. Thus, despite the fact that I agree with their position, they would consider me a stakeholder of infintesimally small proportion. That leaves Presidential promises and Republican values based on state's rights versus Tribal rights coupled with environmental concerns. Good luck, Secretary Zinke. This smells like bear poo no matter what you do. How did we get here, anyway?
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