Environmental Policy

Gerda Steiner and Jörg Lenzlinger
The Water Hole

Steve Dovers' talk on environmental complexity was something that I could understand more fully than some of the other topics which we have discussed. Although I still come from a non-specialist view-point I can more clearly see the logical cause and effect of parts of the system than some of the other topics we have discussed, for example empire or The Pacific.

Almost more than anything environment management seems to be something that requires interconnected management. The natural world does not respect boundaries and neither should approaches to dealing with it.

I am really interested in ways that the human relationship with nature has changed over time. I wrote an essay in a Victorian and Edwardian Art course about how the human relationship with nature had changed over the nineteenth century. I want to continue this exploration through my honours thesis and explore how art expresses our contemporary relationship with nature. Another excellent source for this is William Cronon'sThe Trouble with wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature’ . Analysing this relationsip is useful in working out ways to convey to people the imperatives and importance of environmental management. For example, with Dovers' discussion of paddock trees he mentioned had regulation had been informed by a changing need to control the environment and remove the trees which has evolved to a need to protect the biodiversity and protect the paddock trees. This emotional aspect is also important with trying to convince people to change their behaviour to become more carbon neutral. His talk also bought home the place of the ever-present unknown and unpredictable element when he talked about the fact that people are unwilling to sacrifice long drives and long showers because they found the time emotionally satisfying. This human feeling aspect is something that could have easily been missed approaching the problem from an empirical standpoint

In preparing for the tutorial I read a lot about nuclear power, something I haven't really thought much about since high-school chemistry. This is another example of a problem in which their is a huge gulf between the problem in popular imagination and the reality of the problem. I was surprised to be reminded that the storage for nuclear waste isn't necessarily as mammoth a problem. Although nuclear energy isn't as dangerous as popularly perceived I still would rather a greater imperative for research and development of sustainable technologies rather than heavy investing in infrastructure for technologies like nuclear power and clean coal and carbon capture.

The reading about the Nacirema was sort of facile and irritating but did provide a useful lesson in treating problems in which you are deeply entrenched with an element of objectivity.

Question: How do we empower people with participative and environmental management to have a noticeable and positive effect on the environment?