Monday, April 14, 2008

Saving the ocean with guilt or desire-part 2

You ocean lovers, how do you want to save the ocean? Do you think it's better to use guilt to get people to stop harming the ocean, or is it better to link our cause with people's positive desires?

The blogfish poll results are in, and 60% said the sustainable seafood movement relies on guilt, compared to 25% who said the movement does not rely on guilt. But most of you who identified guilt as the motivator don't mind using guilt in trying to motivate people to conserve fish.

I worry about using guilt, and this has been an interesting quest to solicit other views. The poll was successful in my eyes, a lot of you answered and the results were informative. Also, I was curious whether any of this would draw answers from elsewhere, and it did.

Here's my earlier post on guilt vs. desire, where I weighed in with support for the value of desire as a conservation motivator, and below are 4 blogs that posted substantive responses that I found interesting.

Ezra Klein at The American Prospect says:
It's an interesting point, and it builds well from the work done by Alice Waters, who's been able to create a politics around food that argues for more sustainable, organic, and even limiting approaches but does so by painting such choices as ones you want to make on your own terms -- because local ingredients taste better, and less processed foods are more healthful.

Andrew Savits at The Triple Bottom Line Blog agrees:
Of course Powell's overall point is well-taken and important. From a marketing standpoint, you never want to be in the position of defending negativity (fear, guilt, No) against positivity (optimism, pleasure, Yes).

And Neil Sinhababu at Cogitamus suggests:
In keeping with Mark Powell's view, linked by Ezra, that environmentalists in the sustainable food movement need to play into people's positive desires more effectively by offering them delicious food of the right kind, I'd like to suggest a similar strategy for veggie evangelists.

Finally, Sam Fromartz at Chews Wise is interested buy not quite convinced:
Mark's essay speaks to a broader issue that food advocates confront, which involves changing habits. And the best way that can be done is by creating new desires - whether for new (sustainable) fish they haven't yet eaten, fresh local food, slow food or what have you. But I imagine the purveyors of guilt won't be happy with this message. I'm not sure I'm convinced either.

Blogfish poll results-


No 41 (25%)

Yes, and that's ok 64 (40%)

Yes, and that's bad 33 (20%)

What's sustainable seafood? 21 (13%)


Anonymous said...

Great poll!
And it looks like the results came from thoughtful consideration on the part of the voters. I agree with your trepidation, especially as you can already see the "guilt trip" backlash against global warming.

In the end, I think it has to be a combination of carrots (delicious, fresh, sustainable seafood) and sticks (insatiable moral wrath of conservationists).

Chrissy said...

I do think it's guilt that motivates a lot of people to do the right thing, and I guess once you're getting the desired result, sometimes the methods aren't all that bad :o)