Decision-Making for a Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach

Overview

Increasingly, environmental decision making is like playing a multidimensional game of chess. With interactions between the atmosphere, the litho-hydrosphere, and the biosphere, the game is at once a measure of complexity, uncertainty, interdisciplinary acuity, social-environmental sustainability, and social justice for all generations. As such, it demands a systemic point of view. Decision Making for a Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach gives readers the tools to replace the dysfunctional, symptomatic ...

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Overview

Increasingly, environmental decision making is like playing a multidimensional game of chess. With interactions between the atmosphere, the litho-hydrosphere, and the biosphere, the game is at once a measure of complexity, uncertainty, interdisciplinary acuity, social-environmental sustainability, and social justice for all generations. As such, it demands a systemic point of view. Decision Making for a Sustainable Environment: A Systemic Approach gives readers the tools to replace the dysfunctional, symptomatic decision making that has plunged the world into environmental crises with a systemic approach that fosters social-environmental sustainability.

A New Paradigm for Environmental Decision Making

Based on the author’s more than 45 years of research and broad, international experience, this book guides policy makers and managers to work with—rather than within—theoretical and methodological frameworks to achieve multidimensional and multilayered policy decisions. It discusses systemic thinking as a rational, viable alternative to competitive, materialistic, and symptomatic decision making.

Insights, Approaches, and Examples for Leadership

Organized into three parts, the book begins by describing the inviolable biophysical principles that define the limitations of human choices. The second part examines in depth why the conventional command-and-control form of decision making tends to become dysfunctional and fails. It also explains how to break the cycle of such behavior. A case study by Jessica K. La Porte explores the challenges of creating a program of environmentally sustainable decision making. The third part of the book explores what it takes to be a psychologically mature decision maker.

A Peaceful Path toward Social-Environmental Sustainability for All Generations

Proposing new ways of thinking and problem solving, this book provides readers with the ideas, language, approaches, and examples to move toward genuine social-environmental sustainability. It offers counsel on how to be a psychologically mature trustee of planet Earth and leave a more viable legacy for future generations.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Decision Making for a Sustainable Environment is a challenging read on a whole range of levels. Deeply personal, deeply reflective, courageous, and atypically altruistic. If you find yourself in self-analysis while reading this book, then you have got the point. ... Not for the faint-hearted, [it] reminds us that humans have a power and responsibility to make wise decisions when it comes to sustaining the natural world that we are part of. The Earth is a complex place made more so by humans. Decision Making for a Sustainable Environment places the role of humans on the Earth in the right context: be humble, be respectful, and be aware."

—Dr. Andrew W. Claridge, Senior Research Scientist, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Australia

"[This book] provides ideas, language, approaches, and examples to move a place of employment, a government, or a community toward what Chris Maser calls ‘psychological maturity for the social-environmental sake of all generations.’ ... I am more ready to effect change in decision makers because of the lessons and wisdom and approach that Chris offers in this book."

—From the foreword by D. Alexander Wait, Missouri State University, USA

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Chris Maser was trained in zoology and ecology and worked for 25 years as a research scientist in agricultural, coastal, desert, forest, valley grassland, shrub steppe, and subarctic settings in various parts of the world before realizing that science is not designed to answer the vast majority of questions society is asking it to address. Maser gave up active scientific research in 1987 and has since worked to unify scientific knowledge with social values in helping to create sustainable communities and landscapes, part of which entails his facilitating the resolution of social-environmental conflicts. He has contributed to more than 286 publications, including 34 books, mostly dealing with some aspect of social-environmental sustainability. Although he has worked and lectured in Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Slovakia, and Switzerland, he calls Corvallis, Oregon home.

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Table of Contents

NATURE’S URGENT MESSAGE TO THE WORLD’S DECISION MAKERS

The Principles of Biophysical Sustainability
The Waterbed Principle
The Law of Cosmic Unification
Nature’s Inviolable Biophysical Principles

Decision Making and Nature’s Rules of Engagement
Every Decision Has Its Antithesis
The Inviolable Rules of Decision Making

WHEN THE DECISION MAKING BECOMES SELF-SERVING

The Stages of an Environmental Agency
Introduction
An Introduction to Command-and-Control Decision Making
The Inception of an Agency
We Are the Agency
Stages in the Cycle of an Agency
When Dysfunctional Decision Making Creeps In
The Homeostatic Command-and-Control of Decision Making
The Mythology of Abnegating Personal Responsibility
The Unpredictability of Environmental Laws
Setting the Stage for the Engagement of Coping Mechanisms
How Coping Mechanisms Influence the Effectiveness of Decision Making

Dissonance within Duplicity: Sustainability Programs at the Southern Nevada Water Authority, a Case Study
Jessica K. La Porte, PhD

Breaking the Dysfunctional Cycle of Environmental Agency Decision Making
How Job Descriptions Limit Professional Decision Making
Leaders and Managers Make Fundamentally Different Kinds of Decisions
Categories of Value
Why a Vision Is Important
Understanding a Vision

WHAT MAKES A PSYCHOLOGICALLY MATURE DECISION MAKER?

The Essence of a Responsible Decision Maker
Personal Values and Philosophy of Life
Characteristics of an Effective Decision Maker

Coping with the Responsibilities and Pressures of Social-Environmental Decision Making
Introduction
Circumstances Faced by Decision Makers
Being and Disclosing Yourself
Perfectionism and the Fear of Making Decisions
Coping with Someone You Dislike
Imagine Yourself as Different People
Inspiring Performance
Nurturing Creativity
Making Do with What You Have
Establishing Realistic Objectives
The Need for Urgency
Give Counsel, Not Advice
The Questions We Ask
Maintaining Viability as a Leader
Social-Environmental Decision Making within Organizations

Giving Children a Voice in Their Future through Shared Decision Making
The Great American Irony: Children Have No Voice in Their Future
Changing Our Adult Thinking
The Ultimate Democratic Revolution in Decision Making: Giving Children a Voice in Their Future

Afterword

Appendix: Common and Scientific Names of Plants and Animals

Index

All chapters include a summary and notes.

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