Where now for the environment movement? Weathercocks and signposts ten years on

| June 14, 2018 | Leave a Comment

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Item Link: Access the Resource

Media Type: Report / Policy Brief

Year of Publication: 2018

Publication City: Machynlleth, Wales

Publisher: Common Cause Foundation

Author(s): Tom Crompton

Categories: , ,

Tom Crompton and the Common Cause Foundation call for the environmental movement to move away from the detrimental presumption that selfish desires dictate human behavior, and to instead appeal to ‘compassionate values’.

Context: It’s ten years since the publication of Weathercocks and Signposts: The Environment Movement at a Crossroads. This report raised probing questions about whether the strategies deployed by the mainstream environmental movement in the UK were proportional to the scale of challenges we confront. It argued that there were fundamental reasons why these strategies were unlikely to deliver the scale of change needed. Indeed, it went further, advancing the case that these strategies might be inadvertently undermining the very basis of public support and engagement upon which we rely to drive transformational change. These arguments are as pertinent today as they were a decade ago, while the evidence base underpinning them is now even more compelling. On the one hand, the scale and urgency of environmental challenges is now known on many counts to be even greater than previously thought; on the other, the inextricable links between the environmental crisis and wider political change have become ever more obvious. This essay updates the arguments developed in Weathercocks and Signposts, highlighting some of the ways in which these have strengthened since 2008.

“I wrote Weathercocks and Signposts while working for WWF-UK, hoping that this would help to bring greater focus to a debate that I was having with friends across many different environmental organisations. But it quickly became apparent that this was a debate which had, necessarily, to involve people working for organisations focused on other ‘causes’ – from human rights to public health, and from international poverty to animal rights. The tendency to define non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through the ‘causes’ upon which these focus can be problematic. It can frustrate an understanding of the fundamental motivations for public expressions of concern about social and environmental issues, and it can make work to build systemic public support for action more difficult. As this essay will highlight, such public concern is inspired by particular values, and these values cut across diverse ‘causes’.

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