Wade Davis on Sustainability and the Environment

While he does not work in an academic setting, and he doesn't publish in academic journals, Wade Davis remains a compelling anthropologist and public intellectual. As a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, Davis has brought anthropological insight and knowledge to the public in ways few anthropologists have. I showed the following video to my Diversity class last week, and as my students appreciated the talk, i think it should be shared here as well.

Davis gave this talk in February, 2010 to a group in Whistler, BC, Canada, and having grown up in BC, he is able to speak to some of the environmental issues occurring there. He describes the difference in the world view of someone like him (from the West), who grew up seeing the vast forests around him as something to be cut down, harvested, and turned into profit. Conversely, the indigenous of the region view those same forests with reverence as sacred space and vital to their culture and well-being. This indigenous worldview is common around the world (and a number of examples are shared), and Davis explains how such a position allows for sustainability that is built into the everyday lives and actions of indigenous peoples. Holding what is essentially the opposite view here in the West has certainly allowed many great achievements, however it is safe to say that the issues of climate change and resource depletion, among others, would not hold our attention as they do now.

It's a 24 minute video, that touches on a number of interesting topics and examples, and Davis shares a number of his amazing photos from his journeys around the world. Enjoy:

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  1. This was an amazing video. Thank you for posting it. It is a little nutty how we tend to think of "sustainability" as a "new" movement when so many cultures worldwide have been LIVING that way since their inception. This is not something we don't already know, but something we often forget when looking for solutions to our big problems.

    Thanks again.

    -Nicole Rivera

  2. dooglas12:29 PM

    Thanks Nicole!

    I think we often believe that we must "reinvent the wheel" to solve the many problems facing the world today. In fact, answers lie all around us!


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