Natural resource conflicts are often economy versus environment disputes. In sustainability models, economy is constrained by environmental limits, indicating the divide is a false dichotomy. However, economy versus environment is reflected in values theory tested across more than 80 countries. Cultural values that emphasize living in harmony with the natural environment are not jointly prioritized with those focused on changing or controlling nature. Similarly, personal values that prioritize care for nature oppose values in pursuit of self-interest. To explore whether environmental conflict is indeed embedded in seemingly irreconcilable values, we turned to coastal British Columbia (BC), Canada, a region with a long history of environmentalism. There, conflicting values were decidedly central to both renewable and fossil-fuel-based energy disputes. However, they were not necessarily barriers to environmental protection, but lost opportunities. In this paper, we discuss how an understanding of values can be used to confront biodiversity loss and other intractable problems.
The Solutions Journal