Tech for Transformative Dialogue

A complete paradigm shift about how we use land to shift the narrative from short-term vested interests to long-term common good perspectives. This will lead to government systems that are far more responsive to the problems we have and adaptive systems for communication and feedback.

This comes back to True Cost Accounting. If we have pure honest data, we can make better decisions. We need Informatics at the Nexus of Food, Energy, Water and Health. I dont think it will be government systems that shift this, it will be an empowered individual voting with his dollars that drives it.

I posted this link in the TCA thread too. IISD just released this paper. The Hidden Costs of American Food.

@ajacquelin, @Thanku, @coviller, what do you think?

If we had the political freedom of a dictatorship, we could do things like the Chinese are doing.

China’s South to North water diversion project, the largest in the world, currently directs over 7 billion cubic meters of water to close to 100 million people and is expected to deliver 45 billion cubic meters to about half a billion people by 2050. Imagine the US rerouting the Missouri River to Nevada or California. No small task, but with enough time and the political will it could be done.

However, China’s interest in rerouting part of the Brahmaputra river via a 1,000-mile tunnel is already causing concerns in India.

In the US the Colorado River is used up before it reaches Mexico.

The flow of the Tigres and Euphrates Rivers are significantly reduced before they enter Iraq.

It’s unfortunate that national borders don’t follow watersheds.

How do we accomplish such a paradigm shift in democracies, though?

All too often, short-term commercial interests prevail over what is in the long-term interest of the environment and people.

I remember we had a similar discussion in the Future of Forests Community. One of the potential solutions we discussed was involving local communities in forest management.

Harry Nelson, an assistant professor in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Forest Resources Management, told us that community forests are expanding in British Columbia and collaborative partnerships are expanding in the United States. These are institutional innovations with real potential, he said. The challenge is leveling it up.

Mark Rudnicki, a Professor of Practice in Forest Biomaterials at the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science of Michigan Tech, argued that there are lessons from Scandinavia:

  • A bio-based economy doesn’t mean less prosperity. The fear, especially in the U.S., that sustainability will mean lower growth is unfounded.
  • A bio-based economy means forests become an integral part of the economy.
  • Cutting down trees isn't necessarily bad. Recycling means we can use trees for more and different things.

Stacy McNulty, an Associate Director of the Adirondack Ecological Center at SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry, pointed to Finland as a model. About one in seven Finns come from families which own forests. Forest management is decentralized there and often a source of cultural pride.

Finally, John Schelhas, who works for the U.S. Forest Service, suggested Native tribes could play an important role in forest management in North America.

@NickOttens, in the US it would help to restore democracy.

The outcome of a 2010 Supreme Court case, Citizens United vs. FEC allows corporations, and other associations to spend unlimited amounts to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates [and their causes].

One Associate Justice argued the Court’s ruling represented “a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government.”

Exacerbating this was a 2011 decision to revoke the Fairness Doctrine of 1949, which required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner.

Special interests now spend ungodly amounts of money to shape public opinion; truth be damned.

Daily we confront a bewildering amount of partial information, misinformation, and disinformation. Remove the information noise, and we would be in a position to make better decisions.

Revoking Citizen’s United and reinstating the Fairness Doctrine would help. Reining in lobbyists and total transparency in politics would help too.

I’m still struggling to imagine how it could be done, though. I see the enormous potential for good, but how do you accomplish a paradigm shift when you’re up against powerful vested interested (not all of them malign!) who benefit from the status quo?

Let me ask some of our policy experts. @lpories, @PaulineB, @Cory_Brugger, @lsroades, would love to read your thoughts on this. Thanks!

It is astonishing how fast public opinion can change, even against strong special interests. Just a few year ago, public opinion was against same-sex marriage and medical marijuana, both of which are not considered radical anymore. In fact, there has been a paradigm shift on these issues. The same can occur with regard to the role of corporations and big money in elections. I think we are beginning to see a shift in the positions of Democratic candidates, women’s rights, and the role of youth, who are beginning to play a larger role in public affairs.

@NickOttens, I agree, not every vested interest is malign, and some that are will sometimes do things that help the majority.

@PaulineB, perhaps those changes were slow in coming, and then the shift happened suddenly. Did a gradual addition of catalyst eventually trigger a rapid transformation?

What catalysts have precipitated dramatic changes in the past? Could they work on today’s issues? If so, is there a way to introduce them faster? A catalyst for the catalysts?

On the subject of catalyst: Here’s a link to a short video that touches on examples of slow, then rapid change regarding women’s suffrage, interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage. Quoting the video:

“A key-event, often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity triggers a rush of activity that ultimately leads to change in federal law.”

The principles involved appear universal — definitely food for thought.

I think you forgot the link, @SteveK8! :wink: