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By Stephen Leahy
VANCOUVER, Canada, Feb 20, 2012 (IPS)
Humanity’s failure to halt the deepening planetary emergency of climate change, extinctions of species and overconsumption of resources is a failure of imagination and mistaken beliefs that we act rationally.
The path to a truly sustainable future is through the muddy waters of emotions, values, ethics and most importantly, imagination, said artists and social scientists at the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference here in Vancouver, British Columbia.
“We don’t live in the real world but live only in the world we imagine,” said David Maggs, a concert pianist and Phd student at the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Our perception of reality is filtered by our personal experiences and values. That’s why the “if we only knew better, we’d do better” education and communication paradigm isn’t working, Maggs said. The underlying assumption that a failure to become more sustainable is the result of a lack of information is flawed, he told attendees at what is the world’s largest general science meeting.
“We live in our heads. We live in storyland,” agrees 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.” Continue reading