TED Conversations

Lauren Hawkins


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From ivory tower to prison cell: How can we bring conservation efforts to the public?

Conservation and other environmental movements have long been viewed as the initiatives of a select group of people. Rare, an international conservation group, seeks to change conservation policy by turning it into a movement that derives support from the public. As there website states, “conservationists must become as skilled in social change as in science; as committed to community-based solutions as national and international policy making.”

How can this be accomplished? The Sustainable Prisons Project in Washington State offers a novel approach to Rare’s mission. This project, a partnership between The Evergreen State College and Washington State Department of Corrections, allows inmates across Washington to participate in environmental education, sustainable practices, and science research projects. Learn more about this program at http://blogs.evergreen.edu/sustainableprisons/stories/prisons-with-nature/.

Creative conservation initiatives like the Sustainable Prisons Project help both the conservation movement and the participants of the program. How can we expand this project to other parts of the global community in order to fully bring conservation to the forefront of political and social discussions?


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    Jun 8 2012: As others have said, education at a young age will be critical to form proper conservation practices in the future. However, there is a very strong need to implement more sustainable practices now to ensure that future generations will have access to the resources we have today. One way to implement conservation changes now is to offer large companies significant economic incentives to adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Changes at the corporate level would go a long way in conserving our planet. Similarly, citizens could receive tax breaks and other economic incentives to adopt sustainable practices. We all have heard that our current lifestyle will be unsustainable, yet little change has been adopted. By giving economic incentives to people and companies that use sustainable practices, I believe conservation would be implemented at a more global scale.
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      Jun 8 2012: I agree with you that change at the level of large corporations could go a long way to leading to even greater global change. But what types of economic incentives are you talking about? What do you think would really make corporations change if they haven't already?
    • Jun 8 2012: I agree with everything that you mentioned in your response. While there may be very many people out there who respond to the climate change and global warming by being sustainable, there are also those who need a bit more of a reason in order to change the way they live their everyday life. we are creatures of habit but we also like convenience and rewards. the the reward of doing something that may be less convenient would have to outweigh the extra effort for some people.

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