“What has changed?” is pertinent question

    Last weekend, INPAWS (Indiana Native Plant and Wildflower Society convened its annual meeting and conference at the Monroe County conference center.
More than 300 attended the event titled Embracing Indiana’s Conservation Challenges.
    H. William Weeks was one of the stellar line-up of presenters.  His presentation was titled The Shaping Intelligence of Nature.  A future post will report his insightful remarks.
    I’ve been reading his 1997 book Beyond The Ark– Tools for an Ecosystem Approach to Conservation, which he wrote while serving as the chief executive of the The Nature Conservancy (the national office).
    In a concluding chapter, Weeks calls for a new way of operating — a “postexploitive capitalism” to change the relationship between businesses and the environment.
Much has changed in our environment since 1997.  For instance, with the impacts of advancing climate change, our very sustainability is now regarded as uncertain.  What has changed in our corporate business practices/models?  Has the past 17 years resulted in significant forward progress toward a postexploitive capitalism?
    Those are complicated questions for another time and for more qualified observers. But one can’t help thinking about the planned dam and reservoir in this context.  Is the proponent CED (Corporation for Economic Development) doing anything other than just pushing another highly destructive and exploitive project– one which would decimate an entire riverine ecosystem in order to promote more economic development in central Indiana and to facilitate continued profligate water consumption and lawn irrigation by wealthy suburban communities?
    Another speaker at the INPAWS conference was Dr. Gerould Wilhelm. I remember his address at the 1999 Indiana Governor’s Conference on the Environment (this was back in the days when Indiana’s governors were concerned about our environment).  In fact, i replay my DVD of his recorded remarks from time to time. The conference was about “Smart Growth”, and Wilhelm addressed its opposite “dumb growth” about which many dysfunctional and destructive landscape design practices were cited. One of these was the way in which our contemporary development practices consider rain water to be a waste product to be quickly disposed rather than the aqueous medium upon which all life depends.  He also called for a sweeping reform of our ecologically destructive practices.
    When I recently mentioned Wilhelm’s 1999 remarks to one of my skeptical friends, who holds a landscape design and natural resources degree from Ball State, she immediately challenged me: “What has changed?”.   Again, I’m not qualified to provide a comprehensive answer of how our awareness and practices might have improved in the intervening years.  But it certainly seems as though we still have an abundance of continuing examples of dumb growth, including the planned reservoir.
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