The Post-Modern Environmentalist

Posted on October 13, 2011

“Increasingly, we live in a world that has post-modern values. In such a world out-dated approaches associated with the post-enlightenment ‘Modern’ tradition will have decreasing impact in affecting societies’ attitudes.”  This was the main message put forward by Dr Joe Zammit-Lucia at a gathering of the Malta Group of Professional Engineering Institutions.

Using examples drawn from development and environmental projects worldwide, Dr Zammit-Lucia described the main characteristics of a ‘post-modern environmentalist’: an openness to multiple perspectives; abandoning the attitude of the all-knowing scientist or technical expert with unique access to ‘truth’; embracing the possibilities of ‘both/and’ rather than ‘either/or’ when it comes to development and conservation; abandoning destructive dichotomies such as the nature/human divide; embracing past and present as building blocks to creating a future rather than as blocks to progress or to hark back to some long past romantic ideal.

Environmentalists need to reach well beyond the already converted if progress is to be accelerated. This requires approaches that are in line with today’s cultural realities.