Published: Monday 20 February 2012
While helpful, scientific knowledge and experts are also part of the problem: by dominating the sustainability discourse, they narrow people’s visions of what’s possible.

Contrary to popular belief, humans have failed to address the earth's worsening emergencies of climate change, species' extinction and resource overconsumption not because of a lack of information, but because of a lack of imagination, social scientists and artists say.

At a conference for the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) here in Vancouver, British Columbia, experts argued that the path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics, and most importantly, imagination.

Humans' perceptions of reality are filtered by personal experiences and values, said David Maggs, a concert pianist and PhD student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).

As a result, the education and communication paradigm of "if we only knew better, we'd do better" is not working, Maggs told attendees at the world's largest general science meeting. "We don't live in the real world, but live only in the world we imagine."

"We live in our heads. We live in storyland," agreed John Robinson of UBC's Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.

"When we talk about sustainability we are talking about the future, how things could be. This is the landscape of imagination," Robinson told IPS. "If we can't imagine a better world we won't get it."

This imagining will be complex and difficult. Sustainability encompasses far more than just scientific facts – it also incorporates the idea of how we relate to nature and to ourselves, he said.

"We haven't yet grasped the depth of changes that are coming."

Because human decisions and behavior are the result of ethics, values and emotion, and because sustainability directly involves our ...

Syndicate content
Make your voice heard.
Write for NationofChange
Not getting a call back and are at a loss as to why interviewers are seemingly disregarding your...
Part I - Legalizing Bribery On Wednesday 2 April 2014 the U.S. Supreme took another step toward...
It is an easy thing to dismiss Ford Nation. Here’s how Jeffery Simpson does it in the Globe and...
The lead story in Thursday, March 21 2013 USA Today highlighted how “Corporate chiefs pull in $ 50...
As the economic outlook in Asia begins to look markedly rosier, businesses the continent over are...
Indoctrinating a new generation Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama,...
June 30th, 1960, Tanglewood, slipping in a side door and climbing to secluded seats high above the...
The social and political climate in the Unites States today is rife with a whole set of diverse...
How many more years until I’m old enough to drive? When will I finally turn 21? At what age should...
Gimme Shelter “Ooh well the storm is threatening, my very life’s at stake. Gimme gimme shelter...
M. J. Rosenberg Part I - Down with BDS, Up with the Two-State Solution Michael Jay Rosenberg is a...
The world of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) can be confusing, so once you’ve decided that a...
In today’s society, DNA testing can provide definitive answers to incredibly contentious questions...
In schools across the country, students are taught about American democracy. Phrases like “...
From the start the human race has been at odds with itself struggling between two distinct...