Biodiversity Loss, the Motivational Gap, and the Failure of Conservation Education

Southwest Philosophy Review 26 (1):119-130 (2010)
Abstract
While the precipitous decline of biodiversity threatens life-sustaining processes and vast segments of the human population, concern about its loss remains extremely shallow. Nearly all motivational campaigns falsely assume that upon appreciating the relevant information, people will be sufficiently motivated to do something. But rational argumentation is doomed to fail, for there exists a motivational gap between a comprehension of the crisis and action taken based upon such knowledge. The origin of the gap lies neither in the quantity and quality of information on the crisis, nor in the putative confl ict between self-interest and morality. Instead, it lies in “remoteness conditions” which dissociate decision-makers from ecological damage and enfeeble incentive to correct it. The centralremoteness conditions are spatial, temporal, and consequential. They can be eliminated by concretizing and particularizing earth others. While direct-experience, place-based educational programs satisfy the criteria, they are uncommon. There is also little opportunity for working adultsto engage in these sorts of activities. As such, the outlook for endangered species and humans in the developing world remains dire
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