The very premise behind the conservation movement is grossly flawed. Society has been trying to force restraint and discipline over our lives since abundance first arrived on our horizon, but as a whole, we’re very resistant to that sort of manipulation. We wouldn’t have to push such restrictions on ourselves through religions or laws or social mores if we were already predestined toward moderation. We tend to very easily forget that conservation today most likely equals surpluses tomorrow.
So why on earth would the conservation movement make its platform, well, conservation? It was doomed from the beginning. We no longer think of the word conservation as synonymous with protection and preservation, we view it closer to quotas, controls, restrictions. The conservation movement may not have caused such connotations, but it sure ain’t helping. Rationing means war, at least it once did, and now not even for war and recession have we been proven that willing to conserve.
We are a species who has survived and thrived because we are drawn to abundance, not preprogrammed to conserve. During periods of lean times we have been forced to learn the hard way, repeatedly, but it never really sticks. The next year, or decade, or generation, we have completely forgotten about that hardship again, and we are once again absorbed in our visions of abundance.
In society we honor and reward the man who earns so much he can’t possibly ever spend it all over the man who may work equally hard but at a fraction of the wages, even if we know the rich man to be lacking in character. Why is that? We always reward abundance – abundance in beauty, skill, achievement, talent, even formerly in obesity, back when that was a sign of material abundance. Now that obesity is usually a sign of malnutrition, we don’t value it anymore. In this country an abundance of garbage doesn’t bother us at all, because it’s still an abundance. So until there is a lack of space that makes the abundance of garbage excessively unpleasant, we are very unlikely to do anything about it.
When reality has stepped in and shown us a real truth about human nature – an unpleasant sort of truth along the lines of prostitutes, abortions, and drugs will always exist, until the end of time, no matter what we do to try to change that – you sometimes wish folks would start working with human nature instead of against it. So here is another unpleasant truth: We will never embrace conservation as a concept, because it’s just not attractive. As Bryan Welch writes in his recent article for MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Creating a Sustainable Society: Four Questions We Should Ask, “Austerity is a drag. Most people know that - and resist it.”
There is a very simple formula to change all this. I’ll bet you can guess it. Try right now in the comments section and I’ll tell ya if you’re right next week!