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By Matthew Charles-Jones, Yackandandah Sustainability

Acts to protect the natural world are all too frequently regarded as naïve.  Claims of naivety are a familiar cry when an environmental perspective calls for changes in a particular industrial practice or set of behaviours.  Apparently only naïve people don’t ‘get’ the imperatives of humans continuing to dominate. It goes something like this; “…we can’t possibly value this particular non-human species because it will slow this kind of economic benefit.”  In this, the pervasive assumption is that the needs of humans are greater and in some magical way, separate to the value of a healthy environment.

But I ‘reckon’ naivety must be seen as a concept heavily grounded in culture, firmly oriented in time and completely subjective.

In a previous time and in another culture where reverence of nature was normal, it would have been obscene to seek comforts that removed you from a day-to-day experience of nature.  It would have been naïve to isolate nature.

In a previous time and in another culture, where economies were immediate, local and focused on the fundamentals of survival, it would have been absurd to balance a lifestyle on the fallacy of continuing economic growth.  To seek a meaningful future with perpetual growth would have been considered naïve.

In a previous time and in another culture, the appropriateness of an exponential growth in human population in a world constricted by finite resources and limited arable land would have been the antithesis of sanity.  To do anything less than to invite nature to dictate limits would have been considered naïve.

In a previous time and in another culture it would have been considered criminal to grow and harvest produce in one part of the world only to transport it to another.  To indulge in such inefficiency would have been considered naïve.

So next time you hear of an environmental proposal being described as naïve; step back and consider the bias behind such a judgement.  What is the effect on personal gain? Is there an ignorance of the interconnected nature of all things or perhaps an adherence to tradition over innovation?  Or maybe the proposal is just plain naive!

However, I for one will be thrilled when it will be universally regarded as naïve to devalue the environment as a subservient feature of human ‘wants.’