Breath of Clarity

Comment on Endangered Species and Wildlife- The End is Near

Original Post by Jess Gilbert:

I strongly dislike the doom and gloom messaging that popular media employs to garner sympathy and support for conservation and the environment. As a conservation educator, it is easy to see how the doom and gloom approach affects conversations immediately. People tune out quickly, whether it be from a sense of hopelessness, they feel at fault, or they simply don’t like negative conversations. While it is important to address what is going on and not understate environmental issues or look at them through rose colored glasses, there is a need to inspire others to want to help and take interest and action. Painting climate change or imperiled species as hopeless issues will not spark inspiration because any action is seen as something that will be doomed to fail. Why would someone want to waste their time if they believe their interest and actions will be futile in the end?

There is already evidence supported by a March 2011 Gallup poll that only 36% of U.S. citizens favor and care about the environment over the economy. This is staggering especially compared to a similar poll in September 1984 where 61% of respondents favored the environment (Kareiva and Marvier 2012, 964). Karieva and Marvier (2012, 966) provide a great example in the form of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. It was a remarkably moving speech and fueled the Civil Rights movement. Had he instead stated “I have a nightmare,” the speech likely wouldn’t have held as much weight nor have been as inspirational. Kareiva and Marvier (2012, 967) continue, asserting that conservationists, scientists, and the media overall need to consider psychology and how they frame their messages. Constant negativity is not going to encourage people to learn more about the environment, conservation, and how they can help. Providing more uplifting and positive messages, and increasing exposure to the environment for children and adults alike can do wonders for a 21st century environmental movement.


Kareiva, Peter, and Michelle Marvier. 2012. “What is Conservation Science?” BioScience 62, no. 11 (November): 962-969.

My Comment:

Hi Jess,

I agree the doom and gloom narrative is not productive in generating support for conservation because it cultivates a sense of hopelessness which is followed by inaction. While Peter Kareiva and Michelle Marvier (2012) claimed that the scientific underpinnings of conservation must include considering the role of humans, they also feel as though the reason for doing so is that we live in a world dominated by humans. At the same time, through the process of succession, ecosystems will be able to continue to exist after the human species no longer survives. My opinion is that it is just hard for the human race to see that it is destroying its own existence on the planet by taking actions that limit the resources that humans need to survive. I also see the problem as a simple unwillingness to make sacrifices that are now inconvenient to create a better tomorrow. That said, I would agree with Kareiva and Marvier’s argument that social systems need to be created to align with natural systems. I appreciate how the authors proposed the strategy to see how human rights and equity intersect with ecosystem health (Kareiva and Marvier 2012).


Kareiva, Peter, and Michelle Marvier. 2012. “What is Conservation Science?” BioScience 62, no. 11 (November): 962-969.