Paradigm Shift II

The “world to word’ paradigm allows us to fix and manipulate the world in order to control and dominate it.  The environmental perceptions dictates clichés such as “the world we live in, we have borrowed from our children rather than inherited from our elders” or “earth has enough resources to meet all our needs but not enough to meet even one person’s greed.”  “Today’s solutions are tomorrow’s problems.”

Therefore, the solutions we look for are embedded in the way we use language to define our problems. We look at our physical environment as a solution to our problem of survival: problem of having adequate food, water, and air, using energy. So the solutions are also dictated by it. It allowed us to separate certain parts of environment as natural resources. We then used the words to create the processes and machines to produce goods and services and satisfy our needs.

This is the old story…This construction of the world as an instrument for the consumption of human beings we are told is the root cause of the environmental problems of today.  Is there an option?

Yes! We create ‘word to world’ fit. Use words to ‘create’ the world that we live in. Therefore among Eskimo’s there are 24 worlds to describe the snow while in English we have only 6 and in any Indian language, there are just one or two. While we have specific and multiple words to describe say the contents of polluted water supply or air pollution, most cultures would not even notice it if the water looked clear and tasted fine or the air did not smell foul. It presents a world where language creation is a creative act that allows us to create a whole new world, to which we did not have access to. From this ‘word to world’ fit we have complete access to ourselves and to others, to the very essence and possibility of what it is to be human.

Then environment does not get divided into natural resources and pollutants, but as the infinite possibilities that we can image and create. Not as problems to be solved due to our actions but creative ways of connecting with the environment and with each other.

The very perception of dividing environment into natural resources and waste is an artificial division. The wrecks/ scraps from one culture/society, old battle ships of the cold war era, dismantled in Dang, Gujarat, is a resource for the transformers providing electricity 24*7 in Indian small scale industry. Garbage disposed in urban Municipal landfills, today’s waste, is a potential for energy production of the future – producing methane.

On lines of ‘Avatar’ the movie, we can even think of having intra- species communication. Communicate with the world in an entirely new way. Impossible? Impossible nothing, for a prehistoric man, mechanized production: magic, controlling nature: impossible, making rain happen: not even heard of.

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About 

Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years. I am mainly concerned with the infrastructure and technology project impacts on people communities and their physical environment. Their adaptation and mitigation strategies, interests me, now especially in the context of climate change and CDM.

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One thought on “Paradigm Shift II

  1. Nice well written provocative piece.Yes all comes down to “Action”.Deeds not words.
    Action is a part of a plan implemented.Process embeeded and flexible to incorporate change.Facing thruth as the factor that negotiates time becomes a very speculative torment.As often fear and rationality(so called) with peer pressure and peer ignorance creates the humungous breach.Breach of communication.The fossil economy has perfected the knowledge info and controlled communication domain for the l;ast 150 years.It continues to do so.The most interesting think is that those who stand against it ,are also left with no tools but the existing system to even oppose against this gigantic jaguernaut.
    Thats where the word all action and all go comes in.
    Arise ,awake n stop not ,till your goal is reached.

    Vision,mission n action….
    Cheers
    Sauman

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