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Upgrading the Environmental Movement

October 19, 2011

Conservation Magazine has a great piece on the need to ‘upgrade’ natural history…but it really speaks more broadly to the entire environmental movement.  Here are some great tidbits:

Hispanics, for instance, often get ignored by conservationists but typically display greater environmental concern on surveys than other ethnic groups, including whites. Fishermen and hunters sometimes face open disdain, though their shared interest in good habitat ought to make them a natural affinity group. And whatever they may think about the origin of species, certain fundamentalist Christian groups take as strong a position against climate change as any conventional environmentalist.

Reaching these nontraditional audiences means learning to think and talk differently.

Another great bit:

Professional naturalists inadvertently shut people out even when they think they are speaking plain English. For instance, “biodiversity” may seem like a quick way of stating a big idea. But in a recent British opinion poll, people asked to define the word often answered that it was a new brand of laundry soap. Speaking more plainly—for instance, talking about how many kinds of plants and animals live in a place—doesn’t mean dumbing down the conversation; it’s about making it less abstract and more specific, which is after all the essence of natural history.


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