AN EVEN LESS CONVENIENT TRUTH: ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT THROUGH AN INTEGRATION OF COGNITION AND CULTURE by Jordan Levine A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Interdisciplinary Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) September 2014 © Jordan Levine, 2014 Abstract ‘Sustainable development,’ or how to achieve durably desirable states in our planet’s nested social-ecological systems, has been heralded by many as the core civilizational challenge of the 21st century. Adding to this challenge is the fact that the scientific study of how to model and manage such complex systems is confounded by a number of archaic intellectual legacies from predecessor disciplines. Chief among these is a relatively crude, low-resolution ‘rational actor’ theory of human behaviour, which lies in tension with a range of more recent, empirical insights regarding how humans absorb information, make decisions, and act, in situ. I argue that, while authors widely acknowledge the former theory to be insufficient, terminological inconsistencies and conceptual opacity have prevented the latter insights from being fully integrated into much sustainable development research. This dissertation aims to help bridge that gap on the level of both theory and practice. First, I present an accessible, original synthesis of cumulative recent findings on human cognition. This synthesis suggests a key object of analysis should be the particular ways in which people reduce the deep complexity of their social-ecological context into actionable information. I then apply this theoretical lens to the study of two areas designated by the UN as sites for experimentation with the concept of sustainable development: Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Israel, and Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in British Columbia, Canada. Both Mt. Carmel and Clayoquot Sound are reeling from major ecological shifts, and discordant multistakeholder relations. In my data chapters, I show that by (a) applying my synthesized theoretical lens to an analysis of how ii the various stakeholders perceive their local context, and (b) adapting and combining a range of elicitation and analysis methods that heretofore have been applied in isolation, I am able to generate insights that have direct, actionable significance for the management of these sensitive, politically fraught social-ecological systems. I conclude with a discussion of implications, caveats, prospects of scalability, and suggestions for future research. iii Preface The physical collection and collation of the interview data reported in this dissertation was done by me. The analysis of the data in this dissertation was also largely my own work, but I had considerable technical support from a number of people. Namely, Coral Kasirer assisted in analysis of all Hebrew-language print material, and Michael Muthukrishna collaborated with me on the statistical analysis of the Clayoquot Sound data (see Acknowledgements). Supervisors Dr. Kai M.A. Chan, and Dr. Terre Satterfield, played important roles as advisors throughout the process. However, unless otherwise stated, all other work described in this dissertation, from concept to completion, was entirely my own. The fieldwork I conducted both on the west coast of Vancouver Island and in northern Israel was explicitly approved by UBC’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board. The identifying number of the two Ethics Certificates we obtained for the research were H09-02523 and H11-00835. The former pertained to an initial round of exploratory interview research I conducted in various locations on the west coast of Vancouver Island, while the latter pertained to the interviews I conducted in and around the two biosphere reserves, specifically. iv Table of Contents Abstract ................................................................................................................................ ii Preface ................................................................................................................................. iv Table of Contents .................................................................................................................. v List of Tables ........................................................................................................................ xi List of Figures ...................................................................................................................... xiii List of Abbreviations ............................................................................................................. xv Glossary .............................................................................................................................. xvi Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................ xxii Dedication ........................................................................................................................ xxvii Chapter 1: Introduction ......................................................................................................... 1 1.1 An even less convenient truth ......................................................................................................... 1 1.2 Why UNESCO biosphere reserves? .................................................................................................. 7 1.3 Structure of the dissertation .......................................................................................................... 14 1.3.1 Synthesizing a theoretical foundation ...................................................................................................... 14 1.3.2 Mt. Carmel UNESCO biosphere reserve ................................................................................................... 16 1.3.3 Clayoquot Sound UNESCO biosphere reserve .......................................................................................... 19 1.3.4 Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................ 28 v Chapter 2: From Rational Actor to Efficient Complexity Manager—exorcising the ghost of Homo economicus with a unified synthesis of cognition research ......................................... 29 2.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 29 2.2 Spotting the ghost .......................................................................................................................... 32 2.3 A set of empirically-derived principles for a descriptive model of the human actor .................... 36 2.3.1 Cognition is triage: we are efficient within our computational, energetic and temporal limits .............. 37 2.3.2 Different goals, different glasses: what we perceive is a function of our goals ....................................... 39 2.3.3 The emotional elephant and rational rider: emotions bound reason, not the inverse ............................ 40 2.3.4 Filter then fill-in-the-blanks: we mostly filter complexity and complete patterns ................................... 42 2.3.5 Efficient cognition is distributed: the ‘elephant and rider’ belong to a herd ........................................... 44 2.3.6 Heuristics are the rule, not the exception: brains are not lazy computers .............................................. 45 2.3.7 Analogy as the unit of thought: the elephant rider navigates with maps ................................................ 47 188.8.131.52 Analogies are chosen by availability, associations, and contextual cues ........................................ 53 184.108.40.206.1 Availability .................................................................................................................................. 53 220.127.116.11.2 Context and associative networks .............................................................................................. 54 2.4 A formalized synthesis: the efficient complexity manager (ECM) model ...................................... 58 2.5 Conclusion ...................................................................................................................................... 64 Chapter 3: The Salient Moustache and the Silent Majority—cognition, culture and (un)sustainable development in the Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ........................ 67 3.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 67 3.2 Mt. Carmel UNESCO biosphere reserve ......................................................................................... 68 3.3 Ignited tensions and fatalistic essentialisms .................................................................................. 72 3.4 Theorizing the growing impasse .................................................................................................... 74 3.5 Imagining the other: perceiving stagnation in Druze society ........................................................ 78 vi 3.6 Housing: a surprising diversity of opinions and rationales ............................................................ 80 3.7 A case of mistaken preferences ..................................................................................................... 85 3.8 Biosphere skepticism ..................................................................................................................... 86 3.9 Discussion: essentialisms, social cognition, and silence ................................................................ 88 3.9.1 Essentialisms are easy .............................................................................................................................. 88 3.9.2 The salient moustache trumps the silent majority ................................................................................... 90 3.9.3 The spiral of silence .................................................................................................................................. 93 3.9.4 Stacked odds further bias social cognition ............................................................................................... 95 3.10 Conclusion: cognition, affect and new avenues for research ........................................................ 97 Chapter 4: The Silence of the Goats—cognitive management of complexity and Israel’s 2010 Carmel disaster ................................................................................................................. 101 4.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 101 4.2 The Carmel disaster ..................................................................................................................... 102 4.3 Mt. Carmel as a chessboard of identity politics ........................................................................... 104 4.4 The analytical value of a cognitive lens ....................................................................................... 108 4.5 The Carmel disaster in public discourse: searching for a scapegoat .......................................... 109 4.5.1 Pointing the finger: “careless Druze,” “spiteful Arabs” and “bad Jews” ................................................ 110 4.6 Local actors’ causal narratives of the 2010 disaster .................................................................... 122 4.6.1 Israel Nature and Parks Authority: “too much ‘man,’ unwelcome pines, and disappearing goats” ...... 122 4.6.2 Jewish National Fund foresters: “too much biocentrism, not enough forestry and more disappearing goats” 129 4.6.3 ‘Isfiyya locals: “maybe God, maybe Satan and definitely Zionist discrimination” .................................. 132 4.7 Mt. Carmel in historical context: from ancient fire-shaped hillside to European fantasy forest 136 4.7.1 Early history ............................................................................................................................................ 137 vii 4.7.2 Changing natures: Mt. Carmel in the modern period ............................................................................ 138 4.7.3 Zionism and the afforestation of pines: a mutually reinforcing cycle .................................................... 143 4.7.4 The British in Palestine: copy, paste, colonize—and down with the goats ............................................ 147 4.7.5 Mt. Carmel after Jewish victory: from Druze means of production to Jewish State jewel .................... 151 4.8 Discussion and implications ......................................................................................................... 155 4.9 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 163 Chapter 5: Sea Otters and White Men For The Win—demographic asymmetries in perceived benefits and losses under a trophic cascade in Clayoquot Sound ........................................ 165 5.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 165 5.2 A trophic cascade in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve ........................................... 168 5.3 Methods ....................................................................................................................................... 172 5.4 Results .......................................................................................................................................... 175 5.4.1 Logic of analysis ...................................................................................................................................... 175 5.4.2 To disaggregate or not to disaggregate .................................................................................................. 177 5.4.3 Important species: kelp, kelp dwellers and the people who love them ................................................. 179 5.4.4 Food species: urchins are not for everyone, but neither are rockfish.................................................... 187 5.4.5 Valuable species: for money or love ....................................................................................................... 192 5.4.6 Ecologically valuable species: the great wall of kelp .............................................................................. 198 5.4.7 Ecosystem service rankings: the world as an oyster, versus the world as a cloister .............................. 203 5.4.8 The devil is in the (dis)aggregation ......................................................................................................... 209 5.5 Discussion .................................................................................................................................... 211 5.5.1 Consistently valued species: salmon, halibut, crab—then chaos ........................................................... 212 5.5.2 Ecosystem services: categories by cognition not committee ................................................................. 213 5.5.3 Asymmetric benefits: perception, if not reality...................................................................................... 216 viii 5.6 Conclusion: where to now ........................................................................................................... 218 Chapter 6: Theories of the Deep—combining salience analysis and network analysis to compare cognitive models of a coastal Vancouver Island foodweb ..................................... 221 6.1 Introduction ................................................................................................................................. 221 6.2 Context: voracious otters, disappearing invertebrates, elusive finfish, and acrimony in Clayoquot Sound 223 6.3 Methods ....................................................................................................................................... 227 6.3.1 Interviews ............................................................................................................................................... 228 6.3.2 Salience analysis ..................................................................................................................................... 232 6.3.3 Network analysis .................................................................................................................................... 234 6.4 Logic of group selection ............................................................................................................... 235 6.4.1 Patterns of difference in participants’ visual depictions of Clayoquot Sound ........................................ 236 6.5 Species accessibility: you think plants, I think animals ................................................................ 242 6.6 Imagined foodwebs: representing aggregate mental models with salience analysis ................. 248 6.7 Imagined foodwebs: combining salience with network analysis ................................................ 255 6.7.1 Network analysis of imagined foodweb data: measuring and visualizing centralities ........................... 255 18.104.22.168 Out-degree centrality: bigger text depicts a more voracious predator ........................................ 256 22.214.171.124 In-degree centrality: bigger circles depict more widely targeted prey ......................................... 256 126.96.36.199 Betweenness centrality: darker circles depict more crucial connectors ...................................... 257 188.8.131.52 Edge weight: bigger arrows depict greater cognitive accessibility ............................................... 257 6.7.2 Government managers versus local civilians .......................................................................................... 259 6.7.3 Males versus females ............................................................................................................................. 265 6.7.4 First Nations versus non-First Nations .................................................................................................... 270 6.8 Summary discussion..................................................................................................................... 277 ix Chapter 7: Conclusion ........................................................................................................ 283 7.1 From inconvenience to insight..................................................................................................... 283 7.2 From insight to action .................................................................................................................. 292 7.2.1 Gender .................................................................................................................................................... 293 7.2.2 Communicating relevance ...................................................................................................................... 296 7.3 Closing thoughts .......................................................................................................................... 299 Works Cited....................................................................................................................... 304 Appendices ....................................................................................................................... 352 Appendix A ................................................................................................................................................ 352 x List of Tables Table 5.1 Important species (personal): general public (top 15) .......................................... 181 Table 5.2 Important species (personal): government managers (top 15) ............................ 181 Table 5.3 Important species (personal): females (top 15) .................................................... 184 Table 5.4 Important species (personal): males (top 15) ........................................................ 184 Table 5.5 Important species (personal): First Nations (top 20) ............................................. 186 Table 5.6 Important species (personal): non-First Nations (top 20) ..................................... 186 Table 5.7 Favourite food species: general public (top 10) .................................................... 188 Table 5.8 Favourite food species: government managers (top 10) ...................................... 188 Table 5.9 Favourite food species: First Nations (top 30) ....................................................... 190 Table 5.10 Favourite food species: non-First Nations (top 30) ........................................... 190 Table 5.11 Favourite food species: females (top 20) .......................................................... 191 Table 5.12 Favourite food species: males (top 20) .............................................................. 191 Table 5.13 Valuable species: general public (top 15) .......................................................... 193 Table 5.14 Valuable species: government managers (top 15) ............................................ 193 Table 5.15 Valuable species: First Nations (top 15) ............................................................ 195 Table 5.16 Valuable species: non-First Nations (top 15) ..................................................... 195 Table 5.17 Valuable species: females (top 15) .................................................................... 197 Table 5.18 Valuable species: males (top 15) ....................................................................... 197 Table 5.19 Ecologically valuable species: general public (top 10) ....................................... 199 Table 5.20 Ecologically valuable species: government managers (top 10) ......................... 199 xi Table 5.21 Ecologically valuable species: First Nations (top 10) ......................................... 200 Table 5.22 Ecologically valuable species: non-First Nations (top 10) .................................. 200 Table 5.23 Ecologically valuable species: females (top 10) ................................................. 202 Table 5.24 Ecologically valuable species: males (top 10) .................................................... 202 Table 5.25 Important ecosystem services: general public (top 10) .................................... 204 Table 5.26 Important ecosystem services: government managers (top 10)....................... 204 Table 5.27 Important ecosystem services: First Nations (top 10) ....................................... 207 Table 5.28 Important ecosystem services: non-First Nations (top 10) ............................... 207 Table 5.29 Top 10 most valuable species for Clayoquot residents (aggregate)................... 210 Table 6.1 Most cognitively accessible species: civilian locals (top 10) .................................. 242 Table 6.2 Most cognitively accessible species: government managers (top 10) .................. 242 Table 6.3 Most cognitively accessible species: females (top 20) .......................................... 245 Table 6.4 Most cognitively accessible species: males (top 20) ............................................. 245 Table 6.5 Most cognitively accessible species: First Nations (top 20) .................................. 247 Table 6.6 Most cognitively accessible species: non-First Nations (top 20) ........................... 247 Table 6.7 Most cognitively accessible trophic relationships: civilian locals (top 15) ............ 249 Table 6.8 Most cognitively accessible trophic rel'ships: government managers (top 15) .... 249 Table 6.9 Most cognitively accessible trophic relationships: females (top 20)..................... 252 Table 6.10 Most cognitively accessible trophic relationships: males (top 20) .................... 252 Table 6.11 Most cognitively accessible trophic relationships: First Nations (top 30) ....... 254 Table 6.12 Most cognitively accessible trophic relationships: non-First Nations (top 30) . 254 xii List of Figures Figure 2.1 Abstracted schematic of the complexity-reduction process ...................................... 51 Figure 2.2 Typology of analogical representations ...................................................................... 52 Figure 2.3 Metaphorical representation of ‘Homo efficens’, the efficient complexity manager model of the human actor ............................................................................................................ 56 Figure 2.4 Sequential flow diagram of the efficient complexity manager (ECM) model ............ 64 Figure 3.1 Appearance of religious Druze versus secular Druze ................................................. 90 Figure 3.2 Appearance of Druze villages versus urban Haifa ...................................................... 94 Figure 4.1 Increasing conflation of multiple fire-related events and their causes in Israeli online print-media ................................................................................................................................. 119 Figure 4.2 Causal attributions of the events surrounding the 2010 fire in the online Israeli print media over time .......................................................................................................................... 121 Figure 4.3 Biblical landscape in the European imaginary, c. 1650, and an actual Palestinian landscape, c. 1866 ....................................................................................................................... 142 Figure 6.1 Sample output of a completed trophic connection task .......................................... 231 Figure 6.2 Sample depiction of local ambit: non-First Nations male ........................................ 239 Figure 6.3 Sample depiction of local ambit: non-First Nations female ..................................... 240 Figure 6.4 Sample depiction of local ambit: First Nations male ................................................ 241 Figure 6.5 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: local civilians ........................... 261 Figure 6.6 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: government managers ............ 263 xiii Figure 6.7 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: males ....................................... 268 Figure 6.8 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: females .................................... 269 Figure 6.9 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: First Nations ............................ 272 Figure 6.10 Aggregate mental model of the regional foodweb: non-First Nations .................. 274 xiv List of Abbreviations • CSBR: Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve • ECM Model: ‘Efficient Complexity Manager’ Model • MAB: Man and the Biosphere project • MCBR: Mount Carmel Biosphere Reserve • MCNP: Mount Carmel National Park • (I)NPA: Israel Nature and Parks Authority • JNF: Jewish National Fund (English name for KKL) • KKL: Keren Kayemet L’Israel (Hebrew name for JNF) • UN: United Nations • UNEP: United Nations Environment Programme • UNESCO: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization • WCVI: West coast of Vancouver Island xv Glossary • Accessibility (cognitive): the relative ease with which an object of mental attention is recalled. • Aggregate mental model: the combined mental models (see Mental model) of two or more individuals who constitute a single analytical unit, but whose set of beliefs about the system in question may or may not be identical • Analogical representation: a simplified, abstracted representation—often stored implicitly in one’s memory—of something one has encountered, or experienced. This representation is then used to make inferences about situations or things that seem analogous to the original object of representation (e.g., the mental map one uses to navigate through one’s city). See Figure 2.2 for a simple typology. • Availability (cognitive): see Accessibility (cognitive). • Benefit transfer (method): an economic valuation tool in which the already-quantified xvi monetary benefits of one ecosystem function or feature are used as an approximation to infer the economic value of another one, elsewhere, that appears roughly similar to the first (e.g., approximating the value of a waterfall in Canada by drawing on valuations already conducted of waterfalls in the USA). • Biosphere reserve: a protected area designated by UNESCO that contains a zone of legally-enforced environmental protection, as well as adjacent zones of human habitation and activity. A biosphere reserve’s purpose is to serve as a living ‘laboratory’ for experimentation with the concept of ‘sustainable development.’ There are currently 621 biosphere reserves located across 117 countries. • Contingent valuation: a survey technique for approximating the economic value of something for which there is no clear market price. Respondents are often asked to state how much they ‘would be willing to pay’ in order to preserve a feature of the environment; e.g., a lake. xvii • Cultural model: a social group’s collective shared concept, either explicit or implicit, of how they imagine a particular system to function. • The Druze: a small Arabic-speaking religious community that lives scattered across primarily the mountainous regions of the eastern Mediterranean. They practice an esoteric faith that broke from Shi’a Islam in 11th century, and which features a clear bifurcation between religious initiates (the minority) and their majority, non-initiated brethren. • Ecosystem services: a term used to describe the various benefits that humans derive from their surrounding ecosystem; some definitions refer instead to the specific biophysical processes that render those benefits. • The embedding effect: a phenomenon in environmental economics wherein, after survey respondents have valued one environmental good, they appear to undervalue subsequent equivalent goods, ‘embedding’ the value of the new good(s) in the original valuation (e.g., expressing a willingness to pay $X xviii to preserve one lake, but <$2X to preserve two lakes). • Heuristic: a method of problem solving whereby one draws on familiar patterns of thinking to significantly reduce the complexity, and hence the cognitive burden, of a given task. • Hyperbolic discounting: a theory meant to account for the empirical observation that the more imminently a reward is made available, the more likely people are to prefer it over a larger reward that can only be received later. • Mental model: a person’s working concept, explicit or implicit, of how (s)he imagines a particular system to function. • Multistakeholder management: a dynamic in which multiple stakeholders, often with different interests or agendas from one another, must collectively manage a single shared social-ecological system, or one or more resources within that system. xix • Non-linear: a dynamic in which a system is liable to exhibit rapid or unprecedented changes that are often irreversible. • Salience (cognitive): the degree to which an object stands out as more noticeable relative to other objects. Not entirely identical, but sometimes functionally equivalent, to accessibility, or availability. • Social-ecological system: an analytical unit consisting of an ecosystem, in combination with the human social system(s) that affect(s) and/or interact(s) with it, and vice versa. • Somatic marker hypothesis: a theory that people often draw on the visceral, emotional associations they have with an object of attention in order to help make decisions about it. • Spiral of silence: a theory of mass communication proposed by Noelle- Neumann (1993) whereby one opinion becomes dominant over time, mainly because those who disagree assume themselves (often mistakenly) to be in the minority, fearing ostracism if they speak out. xx • Strong reciprocity: a phenomenon wherein people tend to cooperate, and/or punish non-cooperators, more than pure ‘rational self- interest’ would instruct. • Sustainable development: an organizing principle based vaguely on the idea of meeting people’s contemporary needs without compromising the ability of our species to meet its needs in the future. • Zionism: the Jewish ethno-religious nationalist movement that calls for Jews of the Diaspora to immigrate to the land of the Bible (Israel-Palestine) so as to create and maintain a Jewish state. xxi Acknowledgements At the inevitable risk of forgetting someone, I’d nonetheless like to thank all the incredibly supportive people both in my academic and non-academic life without whom it would have been far more difficult if not impossible to complete this dissertation. First and foremost, I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Kai M.A. Chan, and Dr. Terre Satterfield, for having the courage to take me on as a PhD student, despite the fact that I had a fairly unorthodox academic background relative to the position for which I was initially accepted. Their unending support (both motivational and financial), along with their perpetual encouragement, flexibility and patience were all truly exemplary. The fact that this dissertation exists at all is in no small part a product of their steadfast and inspiring mentorship. I’d also like to thank the Liu Institute for Global Issues, which I consider as much my intellectual home during this degree as was IRES, for generously accepting me into their Liu Scholars program, for funding much of my research in ‘Isfyia, and for providing me the intellectual and material context to pursue my wider passion for international development. Particular thanks goes to Julie Wagemakers, Peter Dauvergne, the inimitable Sally Ashwell, and the remainder of the administrative team for their remarkable generosity and unfailing friendly encouragement throughout the six years of my presence at the Institute. Special thanks also goes to Dr. Hisham Zerriffi who, while not involved directly in this dissertation, was immensely supportive of my overall efforts and exemplary in his mentorship. xxii On a similar note, I’d like to thank Dr. Edward “Ted” Slingerland, director at the Centre for Human Evolution, Cognition, and Culture, for several things in particular. One is his inspiring and characteristically well-written work (Slingerland 2008) that provided much of the intellectual substrate and inspiration for my theoretical approach to the dissertation itself. He also deserves especial accolades for agreeing—possibly against his better judgment—to serve as a third reader and committee member for this dissertation. Despite a staggering volume of academic and administrative responsibilities, Dr. Slingerland displayed a willingness above and beyond the call of duty to support my attempt to bridge disciplines and subject matter, and to stand by my application of cognition-and-culture to what was, for him, a somewhat unfamiliar research domain. The additional support, both conceptual and professional, that he and the Centre have offered me throughout my doctoral program has been truly invaluable in multiple dimensions. Much gratitude to Dr. Slingerland, his co-directors, and to Adam Barnett for including me in the intellectual life of the Centre and providing me the multiple opportunities for intellectual and professional enrichment that have made my time as a doctoral candidate especially memorable and inspiring. Next, I cannot state emphatically enough how indebted I am to the young and brilliant Saed Amasha of the Amasha clan of ‘Isfiyya, Israel. Saed’s Arabic language instruction and interpretation skills were absolutely indispensable to the success of our collaborative research efforts on Mt. Carmel. The warmth and sincerity with which he and his family welcomed me into their home, their lives and their culture was truly humbling. Especially to Saed, but also to xxiii Sanad, Umm Sanad, Hana, Iman, the Abu Hamud brothers, Shachar and the rest of the ‘Isfiyya-Dalia community, alf shokr laykum. Of course, equally crucial to my work in Israel was the warm and unconditional support of my entire Israeli family. Extra special thanks to my uncle Allan and my aunt Rachel for the generous use of their house, their car, their food, their fridge, their internet connection, their air conditioning, their laundry machine, and of course, when our times of residence overlapped, their doting love. Many thanks as well to my cousin Tamar for generously sharing her apartment with me in 2012, and to each of my other cousins Danny, Eytan, Deena and their respective spouses (spice?), Yael, Hadas and Noam for being such wonderfully supportive family and friends, and for making me feel truly at home in my second home. In terms of collaboration, I also owe a sincere debt of gratitude to brilliant UBC colleague Michael Muthukrishna. Without Michael’s coding and statistical genius this dissertation would be altogether far less interesting. His patient instruction was invaluable, and the idea to employ analyses of network centrality to the data in Chapter 6 would not have materialized if not for his input. Thanks, Mike. Special thanks is also due to the incisive bilingual mind of Coral Kasirer, who generously donated her time and brainpower to collating, translating, parsing, coding, and analyzing all the Israeli press material that constitutes much of Chapter 4. Thanks as well to Christina Mak, who not only did a stellar job of researching and compiling a social-ecological timeline of the west coast of Vancouver Island, but who also assisted and more importantly tolerated me throughout our first visit to Kyuquot. For the latter, especially, she deserves extra credit. xxiv In terms of friends and colleagues at UBC, my six years of interactions, discussions, and brainstorming sessions with the entire Chan lab group (“Kong”) were indispensable to helping shape and reshape my ideas. Without wanting to exclude anyone accidentally, I would like to especially thank Gerald Singh, Ed Gregr, Jordan Tam, Sarah Klain, Rebecca Goldman Martone and Russell Markel for their steadfast comradery and insightful feedback. Particular thanks to the lovely Maria-Jose Espinosa, who was especially generous with her time and whose family were exceptionally gracious hosts in Merida, Mexico, while I was researching Biosphere Reserves. ¡Muchisimas gracias a toda la familia Espinosa Romero! Outside of the Chan lab group, particular thanks go to my long-time friend and fellow UBC graduate Mani Hamidi, without whose incisive and critical mind as a sounding board I would likely have been lost at sea many times over. The indefatigable Lysandra Bumstead deserves my special thanks for her stellar high-speed proofreading job, as well as for tolerating my descent into doctoral student quirkiness over the course of the past six years. For moral support I am also deeply grateful to many other friends and acquaintances, including but not limited to Rachel Roy, the entire International Development Research Network team (especially Megan Peloso, Lucy Rodina, Kieran Findlater, Emily Anderson, Sean Kearney, Olivia Freeman, Paige Olmsted, Elaine Hsiao, Marcelo Bravo, and mastermind Reza Kowsari), as well as Golnar Vaziri, Sacha Pinto, Ece Sonmez, and Nick and Millie “Nickagros” Chang. On an entirely unrelated note, I would also like to thank the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, the Interdisciplinary xxv Studies Graduate Program, and the University of British Columbia itself for supporting me at various stages and in various ways throughout the length of my degree. Penultimately, I would like to thank Dr. Jordan B. Peterson of the University of Toronto for his deeply inspiring and thought-provoking work (2014; 2002; 1999) that has played an especially formative role in my thinking about cognition, and in the model I present in Chapter 2. I would also like to thank Dr. John Robinson of UBC’s Centre for Interactive Research and Sustainability for his stellar teaching and highly engaging first-year RMES course, which, in combination with his own work (Robinson 2004), laid much of the foundation for my later thinking about sustainability writ large. My deep gratitude is also due to Dr. Douw Steyn of UBC’s Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, without whose inspiration, initial encouragement, and continued support this dissertation would simply not exist. Finally, my very deepest gratitude goes to my parents Marc Levine and Joan Pinkus, with a special mention to my brother Adrian, and grandmothers Shirley Levine and Sabine Pinkus, for their collective endless, unconditional, unwavering, and selfless support throughout these past six years of my life. I quite literally would not have been able to complete, nor even begin, my doctoral program without them. I owe them everything. Thank you Mom and Dad. xxvi Dedication To my family, both passed and present, and to anyone who may find this work useful in the service of others. xxvii Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1 An even less convenient truth We are living in an era increasingly defined by the question of whether contemporary civilization is sustainable (Pawloswki 2011, Griggs, et al. 2013). As the global south races to catch up to the resource-intensive living standards of the ‘developed’ north, and as global per-capita consumption reaches new heights, our species is having unprecedented impacts on the biophysical structures of the Earth (Steffen, et al. 2011). The spectre of unpredictable climate change, rapid biodiversity loss, collapsing fisheries, massive soil erosion, fresh water depletion, and pollution crises are each said to already loom with varying degrees of imminence on our collective horizon (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Focusing on climate, American former Vice-President Al Gore infamously christened this reality an “inconvenient truth” (Gore 2005). The Gore narrative is shared, albeit with more nuance, by many environmental scientists, who argue our species’ path is unsustainable insofar as the planet lacks the capacity to absorb the impacts that would result from the entire global population—projected to peak at between nine to 11 billion people (UN DESA 2013)—consuming to the same degree, and in the same forms, as do the citizens of the world’s richest nations today (Rees and Wackernagel 2013, Sakschewski, et al. 2014, Springer and Duchin 2014). The consequent sense of insecurity has inspired visions of what a new, more durable global system would entail. ‘Sustainable development’ is one term that has emerged as a widely used—if vague—signifier for such a vision. ‘Sustainable development’ implies a system 1 in which levels of human welfare (conceived in various ways) continue to rise, while our species simultaneously avoids or even reverses destructive impacts on the environment that would otherwise deprive future generations of current standards of living (Langhelle 2000, Hopwood, Mellor and O'Brien 2005, Mitcham 1995, Du Pisani 2006). A complementary vision that has emerged in academic circles, closely associated with the work of Nobel-prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom (e.g., Ostrom, 2009, Ostrom and Janssen, 2004, Young, et al. 2006) and the research community at Stockholm University, focuses on the notion of ‘resilience’ (Folke 2006, Folke, Carpenter, et al. 2002). This approach highlights the importance of improving ‘adaptive capacity,’ whereby we modify or design the complex social-ecological systems we inhabit in such a way as to be able to quickly recover from inevitable ‘surprises,’ such as failures in prediction or the crossing of non-linear thresholds (Berkes, Colding and Folke 2003, Folke 2006, Folke, Carpenter, et al. 2002, Liu, Dietz, et al. 2007). Despite the valiance and apparent necessity of such visions and their ensuing research programs, it is still unknown to what degree this search for ‘sustainable’ civilizational models is a doomed case of wanting our collective cake while eating it too or, rather, whether such a search constitutes the sole path to would-be salvation for our species and its future on this planet. Of course, it is also possible (if not probable) that reality will prove to be some combination of the two, wherein the search for a new, sustainable modus operandi is both necessary, but insufficient: some much more radical scenario (such as a Malthusian population crash, or other large-scale initial reduction in aggregate human welfare) may well be an inevitable precursor to the future emergence of a more durable global system (Small 2002, 2 Seidl and Tisdell 1999, Nekola, et al. 2013, Johansen and Sornette 2001). We simply do not yet know. Nor, it seems, can we know (Reuveny 2012, Johansen and Sornette 2001). Our best science notwithstanding, the profound complexity and interconnectedness of our linked social and ecological systems precludes a single, clearly prescriptive path with definitive outcomes. Rather, despite our innate preference for certainty, and for the ideological narratives this human need produces (Peterson and Flanders 2002) (be they environmentalist, capitalist, socialist, or otherwise), when studying the interconnections between complex social and ecological systems, we are firmly in the realm of often ambiguous probabilities, subjectivity-tinged metrics of uncertainty, and a near limitless plethora of possible future scenarios (Fischer and Sterner 2012, Hillerbrand and Ghil 2008, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Dessai and Hulme 2004, Kriegler, et al. 2009, Pittock, Jones and Mitchell 2001, Lempert, et al. 2004). Thus, the apparent unsustainability of our current socioeconomic system is, indeed, “inconvenient” (Gore 2005), particularly for those whom it currently benefits the most: the approximately 75% of the world population that is not mired in poverty (OPHDI 2014). The problem this “truth” (Gore 2005) presents, however, is in fact even more confounding than various shades of environmentalist narrative suggest (G. B. Smith 1998, Shantz 2003, Douglas 2009, Pepper 2007). This is because, as a species, our rapidly accumulating data on social and ecological interaction simultaneously present us with an inextricably related challenge: that of collective interpretation. The deeply probabilistic, necessarily cautious nature of the predictions made by many biophysical models, and the relative lack of firmly visceral, and hence 3 indisputable, facts about the exact impact of our behaviours on the environment, open up the field for a wide, disparate range of interpretations, narratives and prescriptions (Zehr 2000, Stocking and Holstein 2008, Carvalho 2007, Corbett and Durfee 2004, Ravetz 2004). I argue that actively acknowledging and incorporating this ‘even less convenient’ truth of epistemic, ontological and ideological diversity into social-ecological research is crucial, both for understanding how culture and cognition interact with ecological dynamics, but also for translating scientific findings into successful, actionable policy (Eccleston 2004, Raymond, et al. 2013, Smith and Sterling 2010). This holds true at multiple scales. On a global scale, we live in an increasingly multipolar international system that is simultaneously anarchical and interdependent (Zala 2010, Hurrell 2008, Bull 2002). This means that any planetary-level action requires the coordination of multiple states and non-state actors with highly divergent interests, outlooks and agendas, whose leaders are often compelled to prioritize their own domestic political survival, or corporate bottom-lines, over long-term communitarian or even national interests (Kleinberg and Fordham 2013, Caselli and Morelli 2004, Callander 2008). This suggests that the most powerful actors may often be operating within entirely different motivational, and hence cognitive (Peterson and Flanders 2002), frames, both from one another, and from the wider policy-making and research communities. At a higher resolution, our planet is home to a vast diversity of sub-state-level communities and human actors, each with their own particular priorities, histories, epistemologies and ontologies, which sometimes do and sometimes do not neatly map on to those of academic knowledge-producers (Raymond, et al. 2013, Rodríguez-Labajos and 4 Martínez-Alier 2013, Oguamanam 2007, Saab 2009, Curry 2003, Howitt and Suchet-Pearson 2006, Icaza and Vázquez 2013). In this light, successfully addressing our species’ collective sustainability problem is as much an exercise in open deliberation, multistakeholder negotiation, and the crafting of a shared—or, at the minimum, a mutually recognizable—narrative, as it is a question of finding the right suite of technocratic solutions (Hurrell 2008, Ratner 2004, Fischer, et al. 2012, Zorn, et al. 2012, Clark and Dickson 2003, J. Robinson 2004, Bulkeley and Mol 2003). Taking this fact seriously, however, means more than making scientific sense of complex social-ecological systems. Just as importantly, it also means studying how relevant actors themselves make sense of the social-ecological systems in which they are embedded, how those actors make sense of knowledge produced by ‘experts,’ and how, ultimately, those actors make sense of each other. Insofar as this particular subset of social-ecological systems research shifts the object of analysis from facts about the natural world, to how people make sense of their world, the agenda I am advancing here, suggested obliquely by others (Folke 2006), must draw upon methods more familiar to cognitive anthropologists (Atran and Medin 2010, Medin and Atran 1999, D'Andrade 1995), sociologists (Borgatti 1996, Smith and Borgatti 1997), social and cultural psychologists (Heine 2012, Peterson and Flanders 2002) or religious studies scholars (Blum 2012, Slingerland 2008, Slingerland 2004) than those employed by ecologists or economists in the traditional sense. Just as age-old religious and metaphysical systems comprise frameworks for action drawn from a combination of naïve environmental observation, diverse social influences, and 5 deep cognitive structure (Peterson 1999), so too do peoples’ contemporary beliefs about our shared social-ecological systems hinge on these same contextual, cultural and cognitive factors (Atran and Medin 2010, Medin and Atran 1999). For those of us who seek to understand the role of humans in the sustainability of these complex social-ecological systems, this presents us with a peculiar challenge: having to synthesize a coherent new theoretical and methodological foundation for such an agenda. The need for this synthesis is as follows. Recent decades have seen a wealth of empirical data emerge on how deeply the nuances of cognition and culture shape human behavior (Henrich, Heine and Norenzayan 2010, Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982, Heine 2012, Gentner and Stevens 1983, Atran and Medin 2010). However, because these insights have arisen from such diverse disciplinary corners, and have been articulated in such varied language, they have yet to coalesce into a cohesive, empirically-responsible theoretical foundation upon which to firmly establish a study of the human actor in social-ecological systems (see Chapter 2). Because this foundation is lacking, the question of which methods are best suited for which aspects of such a research program—let alone what the actual objects of analysis would then be (e.g., stated or revealed preferences, values, narratives, mental models, beliefs, or something else entirely)—is in no way clear. I argue this dearth of theoretical and methodological clarity tempts many of us to fall back unreflectively on conventional techniques (Adamowicz 2004, Shove 2010) rooted in an accessible yet infamously naïve view that has been debunked many times over: the assumption that humans are predictably rational, autonomous, self-interested, utility maximizers (Ariely, Loewenstein and Prelec 2003, Henrich, et al. 2001, Gintis 2000). But basing otherwise cutting-6 edge research on flawed theoretical assumptions is simply not satisfactory. I argue we can do better, with respect both to theory and to methods. As such, I focus the entirety of my dissertation on meeting this challenge directly. I begin this dissertation by synthesizing a range of contemporary findings in the cognitive, behavioural and social sciences to create an accessible theoretical foundation for thinking about how humans actually navigate the complexity of their social-ecological systems. I then demonstrate the usefulness of this theoretical lens at the regional scale by applying it to the study of two different field sites: Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in northern Israel, and Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. In so doing, I adapt and recombine a number of methods from other social sciences in novel ways, enabling me to deliver original insights that are directly relevant to the multistakeholder management of the two reserves. Ultimately, this effort serves as a prototype for how coherent theory rooted in the study of cognition and culture can be explicitly and usefully incorporated into the study and management of social-ecological systems. 1.2 Why UNESCO biosphere reserves? In 1971, UNESCO launched a long-term project to develop a global network of protected areas, dubbed ‘biosphere reserves,’ originally aimed at balancing ecological conservation with the human use of natural spaces. By 1976, this project had developed into the so-called ‘Man and the Biosphere’ (MAB) initiative, which designated 208 new protected areas around the world, constituting the first generation of the nascent World Network of 7 Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) (Jaeger 2005). By 2013, that number had nearly tripled, with 621 reserves spread across 117 countries (UNESCO 2013). Over the past several decades, the mandate of these reserves has evolved from an original tripartite aim of ecosystem conservation, research and education (Jaeger 2005), to the explicit aim of functioning as living ‘laboratories’ for experimentation with the concept of sustainable development (Jaeger 2005). According to MAB’s 2008 Madrid Action Plan (MAP), the aim of the MAB initiative is now to “raise biosphere reserves to be the principal internationally-designated areas dedicated to sustainable development in the 21st century” (3). Unlike many other protected area schemes, WNBR claims to focus specifically on bringing together multiple stakeholders to link biodiversity conservation directly with socio-economic development (UNESCO-MAB 2008). Included in UNESCO’s official list of the ‘main characteristics of biosphere reserves’ are: “focusing on a multi-stakeholder approach with particular emphasis on the involvement of local communities in management” and “fostering dialogue for conflict resolution of natural resource use” (UNESCO 2014). In this sense, biosphere reserves are, at least in theory, ideal case-study sites for investigating the role of cognition and culture in the multistakeholder management of social-ecological systems. In terms of their spatial structure, biosphere reserves are intended to each share a number of common characteristics. One, they are areas, within sovereign states, where humans already reside but which have also been specifically recognized for their biological diversity. As a condition for granting a given area ‘biosphere reserve’ status, UNESCO now also requires the implementation of a loosely standardized zoning scheme, comprised of (a) a core protected 8 area officially recognized by domestic legislation, (b) a buffer zone of limited human activity, and (c) a transition zone of—ostensibly sustainable—human habitation (UNESCO-MAB 2008). By 2008, UNESCO had adopted language being used by the UNEP and began explicitly promoting an ‘ecosystem services’ framework for managing reserves in the WNBR. The ‘ecosystem services’ approach was first articulated in its current form by ecologist Gretchen Daily (1997), and later more formally codified by the UNEP’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Rather than promote biological conservation for its own sake, this approach adopts the economic metaphor of ‘service provider,’ and focuses explicitly on the processes whereby ‘nature’ renders ‘benefits’ to humans. The theory is that by actively considering and managing for the specific ‘services’ nature ‘provides’ to people, relevant stakeholders will be able to strike a more sustainable balance between long-term improvements in human well-being, and the preservation of local ecological integrity (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, Daily 1997). UNESCO’s attempt to promote this particular conceptual framework across the WNBR complements their requirements for a common zoning scheme. Theoretically, this helps reserves generate roughly comparable data that can be shared and studied methodically across the wider network—a core, original goal of the MAB initiative (Jaeger 2005). The biosphere reserve model has met with mixed success (Rosas and Clusener-Godt 2010, Jaeger 2005, UNESCO-Jakarta 2010). From my own experiences attending WNBR conferences, interviewing UNESCO officials, and observing first-hand the struggles of reserve managers, the model suffers from at least two key challenges. One, while UNESCO does provide 9 the recognition and designation of ‘biosphere reserve’ status, it does not and cannot, as a rule, offer any guaranteed funding to help implement sustainable development projects in the reserves (Frankenberg 2009, Cook 2009, Karez 2010). Thus, once earning reserve status, domestic actors are then left to search out funding solutions themselves. Sometimes, as in the case of Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, this funding comes in the form of a government grant or trust. In other cases, however, such as with the Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, specially earmarked government funding is essentially non-existent. In the case of Latin America, specifically, this model has met with a measured degree of success, as the Spanish government has adopted widespread funding of biosphere reserve projects in its former spheres of influence (Karez 2010, Rosas and Clusener-Godt 2010, Jaeger 2005). In Asia, the South Korean and Japanese governments have similarly helped finance a number of international WNBR initiatives (UNESCO-Jakarta 2010). Many other reserves, however, have not been well-funded, and thus exist more in name than in substance, often to the bemusement of local residents (Frankenberg 2009, Rosenberg 2011) (see Chapter 3). Apart from the hurdles presented by this typical funding gap, there is also a second, arguably more profound, challenge faced by actors in biosphere reserves. This constitutes a direct incarnation of the issue of epistemological and ontological diversity I described in Section 1.1. In the course of my research, I have encountered the issue in at least two observable forms. One, when diverse actors in a given biosphere reserve must attempt to manage their shared environment sustainably, it is often challenging, both for the actors themselves and for 10 us researchers alike, to appreciate how differently from one another we may each be perceiving and thinking about the same space. Social-ecological systems are so complex, and so multifaceted, that our individual and collective experiences within them, and hence our fundamental, underlying conceptions of what they consist of, how they work, and what the problems may be, are by no means given, not even to ourselves (Peterson 1999). Rather, the situation is liable to resemble the inverse: our individual and collective wealth of knowledge about our social-ecological surroundings are generated through a massive number of repeated visceral, embodied actions and habits of mind, and thus are stored for the most part implicitly in our embodied memories, rather than sitting ready and waiting for our immediate, transparent, conscious access (Atran and Medin 2010, Medin and Atran 1999, Mischel 2009, Lewicki, Hoffman and Czyzewska 1987) (see Chapter 6). As a result, while we as individuals are often deeply knowledgeable about our own particular observable ambit, we are not necessarily fully conscious of what it is we know or believe about our environment, or why, let alone how to usefully articulate it to others (Boiral 2002, Broadbent, Fitzgerald and Broadbent 1986) (see Chapter 6). This is where adapting well-selected methods to generate and share research on the human dimension of social-ecological systems can be critically useful for multistakeholder management processes. Such methods can externalize implicit, or tacit, knowledge and beliefs with communal legitimacy. This in turn can boost the degree to which such information is integrated into the deliberative process itself, fostering better negotiated outcomes (Van den Bossche, et al. 2011, L. A. Liu 2004, Dowd and Miller 2011). 11 A second crucial way in which cognition and culture appear to influence the (lack) of success in biosphere reserve management is the degree to which our innate drive for cognitive efficiency (see Chapter 2) means that we exhibit a range of very real partialities in our perception (Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). People readily perceive some things very clearly (e.g., who can be most convincingly blamed for environmental mismanagement), while we find it incredibly difficult to attend to other things (e.g., which long-term underlying ecological processes drive continuity and change in our environment) (see Chapter 4). This creates a real problem for both the management, and study, of social-ecological systems alike, in that while relevant theory is currently aimed at understanding how people use the resources in their ecosystem, the ‘inconvenient truth’ of cognitive partiality suggests we are all just as often reacting primarily to each other, while the effects on our natural environment are indirect, unintentional and confounded by cultural and cognitive specificities. Appropriately addressing this issue hinges on bringing our cognitive-cultural biases and their effects into explicit awareness (see Chapters 3, 4 and 5), an often humbling and jarring task. Finally, a distinct, but related, problem I have repeatedly encountered in both the relevant literature, and in my field work, is the issue of how we as researchers tend to imagine the process of resource management itself. Often, academic papers and grey literature alike propose conceptual frameworks, management options and technical solutions having already made a key a priori, tacit assumption: that a rational, objective decision-making context really does exist, wherein the ultimate aim truly is integrating the best information possible, and 12 weighing the relevant risks most wisely (Jay, et al. 2007). From my observations in the field, and in my interaction with managers who have described to me their own experiences, this notion often appears quite starkly divorced from reality (Rosenberg 2011, Frankenberg 2009, Wright, et al. 2013, Jay, et al. 2007). Not only are management decisions routinely if not exclusively made on profoundly emotional, social, political, and ideological levels—not via an idealized algorithmic cost-benefit analysis—but often a decision-making context does not even truly exist. Expert and local stakeholders’ values are frequently elicited, if at all, mainly for procedural and bureaucratic reasons, while the actual course of events is already set in motion by personally- or structurally-driven political-economic momentum (Rosenberg 2011, Wright, et al. 2013). This both challenges the relatively generic nature of popular frameworks for the study of social-ecological systems (Ostrom 2009, Folke 2006), and puts additional pressure on the researcher to provide insights that are truly contextually relevant. Such an assessment may sound excessively pessimistic. However, there is a figurative silver lining. As alluded to at the close of Section 1.1, there is a vast quantity of work that has already been done in a range of other disciplines (e.g., Atran and Medin 2010, Borgatti 1996, D'Andrade 1995, Gentner and Stevens 1983, Haidt 2001, Heine 2012, Henrich, et al. 2001, Kahneman and Frederick 2002, Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982, L. A. Liu 2004, Medin and Atran 1999, Peterson 1999, Peterson and Flanders 2002, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008, Smith and Borgatti 1997, Tversky and Kahneman 1973) that, if carefully synthesized and appropriately adapted, can be of direct use in theorizing and solving the challenges I have highlighted in this section. Below, I outline how the driving impetus for each of the subsequent chapters in my 13 dissertation is this aim of enriching social-ecological systems research through a transparent and novel integration of insights from the multidisciplinary study of cognition and culture. 1.3 Structure of the dissertation This is a papers-based dissertation, meaning that apart from the Introduction (Chapter 1) and Conclusion (Chapter 7), each chapter functions as a stand-alone paper intended for publication in a refereed journal. As such, there is some redundancy in my description of the case study sites in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, which both present findings from Mt. Carmel Biosphere Reserve, and then again in Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, which both present findings from Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve. That said, apart from this slight redundancy, each of these chapters presents an entirely different data set, and uses or recombines different methods to provide unique actionable insights into the dynamics of the given biosphere reserves in question. 1.3.1 Synthesizing a theoretical foundation Before presenting the results of my research in each case study site, I begin with a paper (Chapter 2) aimed specifically at solving the problem of theoretical foundations. In Chapter 2, I present this problem as one of how the human actor has been characterized, both implicitly and explicitly, in sustainable development- and social-ecological systems research to date. I go on to describe how (as mentioned in Sections 1.1 and 1.2 above) the vast quantity of recent empirical research on the role of cognition and culture in human decision-making has emerged 14 from a wide array of disciplines, in often very different language. This diversity of nomenclature and disciplinary framing, I argue, has thus far made it difficult for social-ecological systems researchers to integrate this new generation of insights into a single coherent model of human behaviour. Because of this, it remains lamentably easy for researchers to employ techniques and make simplifying assumptions that in fact are rooted in the pre-empirical, but comfortably accessible, ‘rational actor model’, known somewhat less affectionately as Homo economicus. After demonstrating the ways in which the ‘ghost’ of Homo economicus continues to figuratively haunt the study of sustainable development today, I proceed to collate and render comparable a number of more contemporary insights on human thought and behaviour that have begun to emerge from a range of empirically-oriented disciplines in recent decades. Together, these insights, which I express in a common language, comprise a list of principles that guide a more empirically informed, conceptually coherent theoretical foundation for the study of the human role in social-ecological systems. As I detail in the paper itself, a central, common theme to emerge from this synthesis is a shift from conceiving of humans as perfectly informed, rule-based thinkers who make their decisions on a single fungible metric, to a model of human cognition in which people have evolved over time to excel at the efficient management of massive environmental complexity. This specialization in ‘complexity management’ (Peterson and Flanders 2002) in turn helps us act in rapid, frugal, satisfactory ways (Kahneman 2003), rather than require us to expend the excess time and energy needed to arrive at theoretically optimal decisions. Ultimately, I summarize this model in the form of a simplified, abstracted chronological decision-making process (see Figure 2.4). I then use this as 15 a theoretical foundation in the subsequent four papers (Chapters 3 to 6) to guide my selection and interpretation of objects of analysis. 1.3.2 Mt. Carmel UNESCO biosphere reserve In Chapter 3, I first introduce the context of Mt. Carmel Biosphere Reserve. Mt. Carmel is inhabited by two communities of an ethno-religious minority of Arabic-speakers known as the Druze, whose presence in the area predates the existence of the Jewish-majority, Hebrew-speaking Israeli state by centuries. The Mt. Carmel Druze community is growing rapidly, and their town limits are expanding. Controversially, the Druze are now constructing homes directly adjacent to and sometimes within a surrounding contested area. This area contains a sizable amount of legally-recognized Druze property, but was de facto nationalized by the Israeli government in the 1970s for conversion into a mix of nature reserve and national park. Notwithstanding their shared reverence for the Carmel forest, the demographic situation has led to an increasingly acrimonious dynamic between the Druze and local state authorities. While the Druze feel compelled to build new single-family homes for their children, even without proper government permits, local authorities remain torn between protecting the environment by enforcing state law, but also not wanting to unduly provoke the fiercely independent Druze community, who in addition to having de jure title to much of the land in question, are the only Arabic-speaking population to serve as conscripts in the national army, thus serving a key strategic role in the state’s defense apparatus. 16 In 2011, I began conducting semi-structured interviews amongst both local Druze, and government managers, with the aim of investigating how participants from each group tended to reduce the complexity of their shared social-ecological system, and how the details of that may be affecting the lack of productive dialogue. The insights I gained from these interviews informed my construction of a follow-up survey instrument, which aimed at bringing to light what I hypothesized was a greater flexibility in popular Druze opinion on the issue of housing than the government authorities seemed to believe existed. Ultimately, the results of the survey revealed a number of crucial unspoken assumptions that appear to underpin the Druze community’s stance on housing practices. These tacit beliefs, which I detail within the paper (Chapter 3), explain how popular opinion on the issue appears to stand in direct contradiction to the perceptions both of government managers, and of many Druze themselves. The results have direct applications for the negotiation of sustainable development solutions in the reserve. As such, with the help of local partners, I disseminated these findings throughout the community prior to my departure, and will soon be delivering them to government officials, at the request of local managers. In Chapter 4, I present a largely orthogonal set of data on the Mt. Carmel Biosphere Reserve, rooted in a cataclysmic event that occurred in the region just prior to my arrival. In December 2010, Mt. Carmel was engulfed in the largest forest fire in the history of the modern Middle East, claiming over 40 lives, as well a considerable amount of property and a massive amount of national park. Because of a history of politicized arson in the region, this disaster immediately led to a spike in ethnic tension between Jews and Arabs. This was followed almost 17 instantaneously by a political and media frenzy in which individual government ministers scrambled to distance themselves from the event, and from the shockingly inadequate domestic firefighting response that contributed to its scale. By the time I had arrived in the region several months subsequent to the disaster, there was still a considerable amount of confusion, ethnic discord and finger-pointing surrounding the issue in the Israeli public sphere. Unfortunately, there was little to no substantive coverage in the media of more systemic factors behind the fire, nor of how addressing them could help prevent disasters of this scale from recurring. Essentially, my local colleagues and I saw this as an opportunity for building societal resilience and enriching public understanding of the regional social-ecological system, which was nonetheless being squandered by excessively reductionist public discourse. This amounted, in our minds, to a compounding of the recent tragedy. As a new media cycle soon led the fire and its aftermath to fade from the spotlight, my colleagues and I felt it was crucial to investigate, and ultimately share, specifically how under-reported systemic factors, inextricably intertwined with the nuances of human cognition and culture, contributed both to the fire, and to its damagingly simplistic construal in the public sphere. As such, we conducted and compared the findings of three different analyses using three different sources of data and three different sets of methods. These analyses included: (a) a textual analysis of issue-conflation in the mainstream Israeli print media coverage of the disaster, (b) a mental-models analysis of how key local interviewees understood the dynamics of the regional social-ecological system, and (c) a textual analysis of the historical record on 18 how successive groups of actors related to and ultimately shaped the ecological makeup of the Carmel slopes as per their own partial, often ideological, vision of the landscape. While the forms of data in each case were different, the objects of analysis were comparable, in that each approach took as its theoretical foundation the same efficient complexity-reduction model of human behaviour outlined in Chapter 2. The result is a coherent account of how the Mt. Carmel disaster, along with its sociopolitical and ecological fallout, were facilitated by multiple groups’ successive, particular forms of complexity reduction having gone unchecked, and unproblematized, for over a century. Rather than pinning the blame on a single individual, or reducing a deeply multifactorial event to a single cause, this account allows us to think explicitly about how dominant narratives are constructed, how landscapes are themselves shaped by cognition and culture, and, ultimately, how the inevitable blind spots that these processes produce can be avoided or mitigated to create more resilient social-ecological systems in the future. 1.3.3 Clayoquot Sound UNESCO biosphere reserve In Chapter 5, I shift attention to my second case-study site: Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI), in British Columbia Canada. As I describe in Chapters 5 and 6, the WCVI is a region characterized by lush temperate rainforest, rich in both terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity. Prior to sustained European activity in the area beginning in the mid-18thcentury CE, human presence on WCVI was limited mainly to First Nations Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribes, who for millennia subsisted off a marine-based protein-19 rich diet, ranging from salmon, to shellfish, to whale meat. Due to the rich diversity and high volume of aquatic biomass in the area, the WCVI has also historically supported a large and varied population of marine mammals. In addition to orcas, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and two species of sea lion, the WCVI was—crucially—once home to a large population of sea otters (Enhydra lutris). As I later describe in Chapters 5 and 6, the sea otter has come to play a uniquely pivotal, and remarkably divisive, role in the changing dynamics of the WCVI social-ecological system. Here I provide some historical background that will help contextualize the material I present in Chapters 5 and 6. The sea otter’s pelt is unrivaled in its softness, with one of the highest densities of fur follicles per cm2 of any animal alive (Kuhn, et al. 2010). When Europeans arrived on the WCVI, they soon capitalized on this by hunting otters and selling their pelts into rapidly growing markets in Asia and Europe. Within decades, the Pacific otter hunt—which involved both Europeans and First Nations—began to take on large-scale commercial proportions throughout the northeast Pacific. On the WCVI, this ultimately culminated in the complete extirpation of the sea otter population by 1929 (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). The social and ecological effects of the sea otter’s disappearance from the WCVI can scarcely be overstated. When the otter was present, the nearshore marine environment was dominated by thick kelp beds, which would have harboured a rich diversity of marine life, including a variety of demersal fish species (kelp greenling, lingcod and numerous varieties of rockfish), as well as a diverse foodweb of both herbivorous and carnivorous invertebrates (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). 20 With sea otters gone, predation on one of the otter’s favourite foods—the sea urchin—virtually disappeared. Urchins, in turn, subsist largely off of kelp. Otter extirpation led to a ballooning of the sea urchin population, which thus went on unchecked to decimate many nearshore kelp beds (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). The end result was a ubiquity of what came to be called ‘urchin barrens’: large patches of sea floor dominated almost exclusively by urchins, with a relative lack of habitat-forming flora. As this major ecological regime shift occurred underwater, above water, First Nations populations on the WCVI were undergoing a figurative perfect storm of catastrophic proportions. With up to 90% of their population killed off by European diseases and conflict, and intensive efforts by British colonizers to erase many of their key cultural practices, the indigenous Nuu-Chah-Nulth peoples were hemorrhaging much of their orally-transmitted knowledge and historical memory (Turner and Turner 2008, McMilan 1999). Adding to these existential pressures was the colonial practice of spatially constraining Nuu-Chah-Nulth communities, along with many other First Nations groups, to ever-smaller “Indian reserves” with ever-more limited access to fisheries (Harris 2008). This regime was entrenched by the Indian Act of 1876, which was later copied directly by post-war South Africa to help create the infamous ‘Apartheid’ system in that country (Kuper 2003). In the face of this attempted cultural genocide (MacDonald and Hudson 2012), Nuu-Chah-Nulth memory of pre-European history, and of an earlier, pre-fur trade ecology, had begun to fade. Instead, local First Nations adapted to the relatively new urchin-rich, kelp-scarce regime as their new baseline. While they no longer had access to otters for their pelts (once 21 used by tribal chiefs for ceremonial purposes) (Robinson 1996), Nuu-Chah-Nulth did now have relatively easy access to an abundance of shellfish that was previously the mainstay of the sea otters’ diet. Archeological records show that clams, chitons, and mussels, along with sea urchins themselves, were a key component of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth diet for millennia (Deur, et al. 2013). However, with the disappearance of otters, the erasure of much historical memory, and the British settlers’ systematic exclusion of First Nations from their traditional territories and fisheries, ready access to such edible invertebrates grew to have an unprecedented importance, both caloric and cultural, for the surviving Nuu-Chah-Nulth. This delicate new status quo in the social-ecological system was soon upset by an idiosyncrasy of the Cold War. In 1965, the United States began conducting nuclear tests in Alaskan waters. Aware that there was a small remnant population of endangered sea otters in the region, the US government requested that Canada relocate the animals to safer waters for the protection of the species. The Canadian government obliged, and over the course of 1969-1972, 89 otters were removed from Alaska and introduced to the far northwestern end of Vancouver Island (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). This area of Vancouver Island, while remote, was not uninhabited. It constituted the traditional territory of the once numerous Kyuquot and Checkleseht Nuu-Chah-Nulth tribes, now consolidated into one small band of survivors of the deadly centuries-long colonial encounter. Yet, no one from this surviving Nuu-Chah-Nulth community was consulted about the 22 otters’ introduction. This is perhaps unsurprising, as First Nations had only recently even won the right to vote in Canada, in 1960 (Knight 2001). At first, the introduced otter population was small, geographically isolated, and thus did not pose a significant problem to the human community. However, as time went on, and the otter population grew, it expanded ever farther southwards. Eventually, otters began competing directly with the small, isolated Kyuquot-Checkleseht band for calories, primarily in the form of clams, urchins and other shellfish, which the Kyuquot-Checkleseht had become accustomed to collecting at specific sites within close distance to their government-delimited reservation. Indeed, as the only marine mammal without blubber, sea otters must consume upwards of 25% of their body weight in food each day simply to remain healthy (Jessup, et al. 2004). Thus, this perceived interspecies competition soon became intense—and heated. Whereas historically the Nuu-Chah-Nulth had highly skilled techniques for cultivating shellfish in accessible areas (Deur, et al. 2013), and for physically excluding otters from these areas (whether by frightening them away or by performing a limited cull), by the turn of the 21st century, none of these options was any longer available to the Kyuquot-Chechleseht. Historical memory of how Nuu-Chah-Nulth ancestors managed otters had been damaged. Moreover, regardless of this loss, otters were now a ‘threatened species,’ protected by federal law (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). Harming or ‘harassing’ an otter in any way was, and remains, a serious punishable crime (Canada 2014). Federal and provincial law notwithstanding, however, frustrations have sometimes boiled over, and the occasional sea otter has indeed been found riddled with bullets in various locations on the WCVI. 23 The problem is neither resolved, nor isolated. Rather, it is spreading southwards. Apart from the Kyuquot-Checkleseht, there are numerous larger communities of Nuu-Chah-Nulth scattered amongst inlets and coves along the entire west coast of Vancouver Island. These communities intermarry, and share deep cultural and familial ties. Thus, as otters continue to expand their territory southwards, down the WCVI, they are preceded by visceral personal stories of just how much damage the species is said to have wrought farther north. This has prompted strong defensive reactions from more southern Nuu-Chah-Nulth bands, some of whom have flouted the law by physically attacking otters on sight. In recent years, as the conflict intensified amongst otters, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, and government officials, some local tribal leaders have declared their intention to re-initiate a traditional otter hunt as part of what they argue is permitted under their federally-recognized food, social and ceremonial (FSC) hunting rights (CBC 2009). At the same time, government managers, scientists and conservationists have been investigating and promoting the numerous positive knock-on effects they believe will be generated by the sea otter’s return to the WCVI. With more otters, and thus fewer urchins, kelp beds are observed to be thriving to a degree not seen for over a century (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Wilmers, et al. 2012). This process is described by ecologists as a ‘trophic cascade,’ whereby increased high-level predation by one species cascades down the foodweb to ultimately create more habitat for a wide range of other species (Wilmers, et al. 2012, Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011). In the case of the WCVI, and of Clayoquot Sound in particular, this includes small invertebrates such as the kelp crab, but also large demersal vertebrates such 24 as lingcod, numerous species of rockfish, and a fish known as ‘kelp greenling.’ Some observers also hypothesize that more kelp cover will provide added shelter from predation for the juveniles of commercially important salmon and herring runs, and that more kelp detritus may help grow larger populations of halibut and other benthic or demersal fish farther out to sea. However, these latter hypotheses are currently only speculations, as yet unconfirmed to any degree of certainty by ecological science (Gregr 2014). What does seem certain, though, is that tourists enjoy viewing sea otters (Loomis 2006). This is particularly true since 2007, when an amateur YouTube video of two captive sea otters ‘holding hands’ at the Vancouver Aquarium ‘went viral.’ This display was more likely an instinctual defense mechanism against strong currents, rather than a tender moment between two enamoured otters (in reality, otter mating is in fact disturbingly violent) (Fisher 1939). Nonetheless, the video had proceeded to garner no less than 19 million views by 2014 (Otters holding hands 2007), a figure equivalent to approximately three times that of the entire rural population of Canada (Statistics Canada 2011). It is perhaps not surprising, then, that the ‘return’ of sea otters to Vancouver Island, and to Clayoquot Sound in particular, is thus being heralded by a range of interests as a literal golden opportunity for locals to capitalize on a potential increase in ecotourism dollars (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2004). However, not everyone on the WCVI, nor in Clayoquot Sound itself, perceives this potential windfall as benefiting them or their community. During my time in the field, it became clear to me that relatively few First Nations residents are directly involved in the ecotourism business on the WCVI, and some seem either unaware or outright 25 skeptical that a fair share of such revenue could ever find its way onto the local Nuu-Chah-Nulth reserves. Even many non-First Nations locals seem more upset about the otter’s perceived decimation of crab stocks than they are excited about their ecotour-operator neighbours making a premium by adding ‘otter watching’ onto already-popular whale watching tours. In other words, while some see the reappearance of otters as an overwhelmingly positive return to a more ‘natural’ (or at least more biodiverse) state, with many possible economic and ecological benefits, not all agree. Many others are skeptical as to the disaggregated way in which such benefits are likely to be distributed. Rather, they are more concerned with the more palpable immediate decrease in access to edible invertebrates that they associate with the otters’ return. It was in this context that, in the spring of 2012, I began semi-structured interview research in the Clayoquot Sound region, a relatively densely and diversely populated segment of WCVI, located approximately 140km south of Kyuquot. My aims were multifold. One, I wished to simply estimate empirically how much of the local resident population was in favour of the otters’ immanent reestablishment in the local ecosystem. More specifically, however, I hoped to elicit the particular sets of perceptions, beliefs and values that underpinned locals’ statements about otters, and to compare and contrast them to those of government managers charged with the otters’ protection. In this way, by focusing on how both ‘laypeople’ and government ‘experts’ tended to cognitively reduce and normatively load the deep complexity of their shared social-ecological environment, I could demonstrate where the gaps and overlaps 26 were in conflicting groups’ respective understanding of the immanent trophic cascade and its likely effects. To elicit this information, I devised a somewhat unorthodox interview protocol (see Chapters 5 and 6) that required participants to engage in drawing, map work, freelisting (i.e., listing terms in the order they come to mind in response to a single question), ranking and sorting, in addition to answering a range of standard demographic questions. Due to the sheer volume of the data compiled, only some of the most immediately pertinent findings are featured in this dissertation, divided thematically across two chapters. Chapter 5 features the analyzed results of the combined freelisting and ranking tasks I included in the interview protocol. I used these tasks to elicit multiple representations of how participants ranked both local species, and local ‘ecosystem services,’ in terms of relative importance. I then analyzed the results using a technique known as ‘salience analysis’ (Borgatti 1996), which combines the relative frequency and relative position of terms on a list to arrive at a score indicative of how collectively ‘salient’ or, as I adapted the technique, important, a given list item is to a sample of respondents. In light of my ecologist colleagues’ projections about the ecological effects of the coming trophic cascade (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Gregr 2014), these data ultimately enabled me to infer which demographic groups are most likely to perceive direct benefits, and which will not, as otters repopulate Clayoquot Sound. While I found evidence of expected differences amongst laypeople and government managers, there were several other demographically-mediated dimensions of difference that caught me by surprise in their starkness. Collectively, these serve as the core results reported in Chapter 5. 27 In Chapter 6, I present results from another two subsets of the freelisting data, demonstrating how simple techniques can be used to reveal rich, useful information on how people perceive and tacitly model their social-ecological system. To arrive at these results, I first used salience analysis, as in Chapter 5. However, I then innovated a technique with my colleague Michael Muthukrishna, whereby we used the results of the salience analysis as raw data for a series of subsequent network analyses using the free ‘Gephi’ software package (Gephi 2014). This allowed us to construct meaningful, multifaceted visual representations of participants’ mental models of the local foodweb. From these representations, it becomes quite clear where important similarities and differences in perception lie amongst multiple stakeholders in the biosphere reserve. Due to the immediate relevance of these results for management, my colleague and I intend for them to be ultimately shared directly with decision-making boards and relevant local communities on the WCVI. 1.3.4 Conclusion Finally, I conclude this dissertation with a section (Chapter 7) aimed at placing each of the key findings from the previous chapters in a larger context. I discuss some potential implications of the findings at both local and remote scales, as well as note some key caveats. I close with some suggestions for a research program aimed at further integrating insights from the study of cognition and culture into sustainable development and social-ecological systems research. 28 Chapter 2: From Rational Actor to Efficient Complexity Manager—exorcising the ghost of Homo economicus with a unified synthesis of cognition research 2.1 Introduction Any effort that aims to account for some aspect of collective or individual human behaviour, from estimating societies’ capacity to sustain themselves, to explaining why individuals so often hold unsubstantiated or debunked beliefs (e.g., the economy’s independence from biophysical limits, or humans’ non-effect on climate), must ultimately rely on a theory of human action. The response of twentieth century economic thought to this challenge has been a working model of humans as ‘rational utility maximizers’ (Monroe and Maher 1995, Sen 1997, Siebenhuner 2000, Simon 1982). This ‘canonical’ model—known popularly as Homo economicus or ‘economic man’ [sic]—assumes, by implication, that people have pre-determined, consistent desires, and that human behaviour is therefore the product of a calculated, utilitarian fulfillment of as many of those desires as possible, ostensibly as measured in additive, fungible bits of utility, or ‘utiles.’ Furthermore, in the most radically economistic, but still widely accepted, interpretation of this model, Homo economicus’ self-interest is assumed to be primarily, if not entirely, material, concerned chiefly with increasing one’s ability to consume, by amassing wealth (Frank 1987, Sen 1988) It is now commonplace to note that this canonical model has been resoundingly debunked by a wide array of contemporary findings (Gintis 2000, Fehr and Gachter 2000, Henrich, et al. 2001, Jager, et al. 2000, Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982, Roth, et al. 1991, 29 Siebenhuner 2000, Thaler 2000, Van den Burgh, Ferrer-i-Carbonell and Munda 2000). Yet, as we will outline in more detail below, the figurative ‘ghost’ of Homo economicus appears to stubbornly persist even today, mainly in the form of lingering inaccurate assumptions that still structure academic and policy discourse in often subtle, undetected ways. We argue this elusive but enduring ‘ghost’ skews researchers’ and policymakers’ thinking about humans’ role in complex social-ecological systems. As such, it is liable to hinder both (a) academic progress on questions of sustainable development, and (b) the pursuit of sustainable development as a normative goal (i.e., as an aim driven by ethical or political concerns). Given the sheer volume of credible evidence debunking Homo economicus, it may seem perplexing that its legacy, or ‘ghost,’ endures. We argue that the unwelcome staying power of outdated canonical assumptions is at least partially due to the sheer diversity of partial replacements to Homo ecomonicus proposed by various disciplines, in very different language, with a confusing (and sometimes confused) mix of normative and descriptive flavour (Becker 2006, Bina and Vaz 2011, Faber, Petersen and Schiller 2002, Ingebrigsten and Jakobsen 2009, Jager, et al. 2000, Siebenhuner 2000, Van den Burgh, Ferrer-i-Carbonell and Munda 2000). The result is that, without an easily understood, easily remembered and—importantly—unified replacement for Homo economicus as a primary foundational model, researchers and policymakers alike are liable to unwittingly default to earlier debunked theories of purely 30 rational, optimizing action. This is likely simply because canonical ideas are more familiar, less complex or merely assumed to be ‘good enough’ for a given job.1 Our aim in this paper is to move toward fully exorcising the ‘ghost’ of Homo economicus from sustainable development research by presenting a synthesis of insights from recent cognitive and behavioural science in consistent, intelligible language. As we argue in more depth below, the conclusion that emerges from such a synthesis is that, rather than assume we are a species of primarily rational, utilitarian optimizers (albeit subject to a number of problematic cognitive ‘blind-spots’; e.g., Kahneman, Slovic and Tversky 1982), it is more empirically accurate to model Homo sapiens primarily as cognitively efficient reducers of massive complexity. Furthermore, as a mechanism for achieving cognitive efficiency, evidence suggests that people are primarily driven not by a clear-headed, time-and-energy intensive optimization of abstract utiles, but rather by rapid, less cerebrally-taxing, emotionally- and viscerally-felt responses to a narrow band of environmental complexity (Buck 1985, Camerer, Loewenstein and Prelec 2005, Murphy and Zajonc 1993). In fact, emotions appear so inescapably relevant to decision-making that they cannot be neatly separated from higher-level cognition (Haidt 2001, Pessoa 2008). The basic drive to achieve desirable emotional states (or ‘affect’) may sometimes be well served or even best served by a clear-headed optimization of an imagined metric of value, such as utiles (i.e., idealized rational utilitarianism). Crucially, 1 Ironically, this constitutes a prime example of ‘satisficing’—an immediate time-and-energy saving, but decidedly sub-optimal, problem solving strategy (Simon 1982) 31 however, the former is in no way synonymous with the latter, and it is a mistake to confuse one for the other. In light of this distinction, the remainder of our paper is structured as follows. First, we present some examples of how the ‘ghost’ of Homo economicus persists in contemporary research and practice (Section 2.2). Next, in Section 2.3, we contrast the assumptions of the canonical model with a series of descriptive (rather than idealized or normative) principles we have identified over the course of reviewing a range of recent empirical findings on human behaviour and cognition. Together, these synthesized principles constitute what we call the Efficient Complexity Manager (ECM) Model of the human actor. In Section 2.4, we present the ECM model in a more formalized fashion, outlining in representational terms the implications of this work for understanding how people proceed from perception, to cognition, to action. The ECM model is, of course, a necessarily drastic simplification of human cognitive processing. As such, we do not present it as a conclusive replacement for other models. Rather, our goal is an accessible synthesis that usefully reflects the points of convergence amongst the most recent, relevant findings on human cognition from multiple disciplines. We argue that this, in turn, can lead to a more empirically-responsible foundation for work on the behavioural aspects of sustainable development challenges. We conclude with some suggestions for future research. 2.2 Spotting the ghost Examples of the legacy or ‘ghost’ of Homo economicus are evident in the continued pervasiveness of several trends, both in social science generally and, to some degree, in 32 sustainable development work in particular. At least three trends in this field strike us as particularly telling. These include: • A steady increase in contingent valuation and revealed preference studies, many of which assume preferences to be stable (Adamowicz 2004, Ariely, Loewenstein and Prelec 2003, Kahneman and Knetch 1992). Because these studies produce monetary values as outputs, which are therefore commensurate with the language of the global economic system, they hold particular instrumental appeal for conservation and sustainability scientists. However, the underlying premise of many such valuation studies is an often-mistaken assumption that the preferences being ‘measured’ are stable (Kahneman and Knetch 1992). Empirical findings have firmly established that many preferences are not stable, but rather constructed (i.e., largely the product of contextual factors including framing, scale, scope, reference points, the cognitive complexity of the valuation task, and time pressure (Lichtenstein and Slovic 2006)). Nonetheless, framing and scoping problems remain under-scrutinized in many published papers (Desvousges, Mathews and Train 2012, Gomez-Baggathun, et al. 2010). Some argue the resulting focus is on generating data that provide monetary valuations, however unstable, rather than understanding realistically presented and empirically defensible choice behaviour and tradeoffs (Adamowicz 2004). ‘Choice experiments’ can help resolve this quandary to an extent, but these methods are still subject to the critique that they do not in fact capture actual, stable, behaviour patterns observed across a range of in situ contexts. 33 Rather, they extrapolate preferences from answers obtained in highly controlled situations that do not necessarily reflect or even approximate the diverse range of cognitive and social environments in which most behaviour actually occurs (Hudson, Gallardo and Hanson 2012). This exposes an ongoing assumption in the field that people’s decision-making patterns are far more independent from in situ context than contemporary science (Hart, et al. 2010) suggests. • A dramatic rise in payment for ecosystem service (PES) schemes, and other market-based mechanisms, based on the implicit assumption that monetary incentives are primary motivators and relatively unproblematic (Engel, Pagiola and Wunder 2008, Kissinger, Patterson and Neufeldt 2013).2 The exuberance with which such schemes have been embraced and promulgated, despite a relative dearth of supporting longitudinal evidence, suggests an underlying assumption that specifically monetary rewards are the best way to incentivize people. This assumption is consistent with a relatively myopic, but popular, interpretation of self-interest, whereby even when supposedly broadly conceived it is conflated with the single-minded pursuit of specifically monetary personal gain (Fong 2001, Ingebrigsten and Jakobsen 2009, Sen 2 While such schemes can, theoretically, create win-win scenarios for biological conservation and poverty reduction, they can also have a slew of less savory effects, both predictable and unpredictable (Engel, Pagiola and Wunder 2008, Kissinger, Patterson and Neufeldt 2013). PES schemes can reinforce a commodification of ecosystems, which some argue is a key driver of ecological degradation in and of itself (Gomez-Baggathun, et al. 2010) putting long-term sustainability at risk (Siebenhuner 2000). Others note that primarily financial interventions like PES schemes can lead to both social and macroeconomic dislocations (e.g. the inflation of food prices, or major disruptions in social relations), which can ironically leave poor people worse off in the long run (Bute, et al. 2008, Fisher, et al. 2010, Frey 1994). 34 1988). Lamentably this is notwithstanding early advancements to the contrary in rational actor theory itself (Arrow 1963). This sort of confusion is perpetuated by the continued conflation of normative (i.e., prescriptive or hopeful) ideals, with more empirical-minded, descriptive accounts of actual human behaviour (e.g., Becker 2006; Faber et al. 2002; Ingebrigtsen and Jakobsen 2009; Siebenhuner 2000). Mixing normative and descriptive theories of human action has little empirical value, but is rather a phenomenon rooted firmly in early modern political philosophy, which tended to combine the two seamlessly and uncritically (Bowles and Gintis 1993, Thaler 2000). Unbridled enthusiasm for PES schemes perpetuates this problematic, self-reinforcing conflation, preventing more empirically-informed descriptive models of human motivation from taking hold. • A persistent gap between research output and policy outcomes based in part on prevalent assumptions that people will change their behaviour when provided with new information (Ruth 2006, Shi 2004, Turner, Adger and Brouwer 1998, Shove 2010). Although it is certainly not the only culprit, a major driver of the continued gap between research findings and sustainable development policy seems to be an inherited belief that, to help people act in their own or society’s best interests, all one must do is provide them with the relevant facts (Bulkeley and Mol 2003, Macnaghten and Jacobs 1997). This belief follows logically from the canonical model, which implies people attend equally to all kinds of information and, unaffected by context or emotion, make 35 perfectly consistent, calculated decisions on the basis of said information (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). This ‘information-deficit model’ of human behaviour, however, has been soundly refuted by empirical data (e.g., Goldstein et al.’s (2008) demonstration that hotel guests were more likely to conserve water when told that other guests normally do so, not when given facts about environmental impact). Rather, people tend to grasp and attend to some kinds of information (visceral and emotional, or ‘affect laden’) more readily than others (abstract and cerebral) (Borgida and Nisbett 1977, Miloslavljevic, et al. 2012). In addition to content, the source of information, its form, and the way it is framed, are hugely important factors in how or even whether such information is absorbed (Gilovitch, Griffin and Kahneman 2002, Tversky and Kahneman 1992). Social norms, along with ingrained habits, can further affect the impact of new information on decision-making and behaviour (Goldstein, Cialdini and Criskevicius 2008, Klockner, Matthies and Hunecke 2003). In light of these empirical insights, it seems closing the gap between sustainable development research and policy will require forms of science communication that are more thoroughly disabused of inaccurate assumptions about how people attend to, accept, or reject, new information. 2.3 A set of empirically-derived principles for a descriptive model of the human actor Here we focus on a number of convergent trends in contemporary empirical accounts of human cognition and motivation. We present these trends as a set of descriptive principles constituting a synthesis that contrasts with the core assumptions of Homo economicus. Taken 36 as a whole, these principles comprise what we call an ‘Efficient Complexity Manager Model’ (ECM) of the human actor or, alternatively, Homo efficens. (See Figure 2.3 for a combined visual representation of these principles. See Section 2.4 for an abstracted formalization.) 2.3.1 Cognition is triage: we are efficient within our computational, energetic and temporal limits While Homo economicus revolves around the notion of humans’ rational maximization of self-interest, contemporary studies of cognition and decision-making3 are converging instead on the importance of humans’ cognitive efficiency. From psychology (Gilovitch, Griffin and Kahneman 2002, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008, Gigerenzer and Goldstein 1996, Peterson and Flanders 2002) to the study of artificial intelligence (Wray, et al. 2007), contemporary research suggests a primary task of our mental faculties is to usefully parse the vast barrage of potentially relevant information—i.e., the profound complexity—that continuously confronts us. Importantly, studies of human cognition indicate that people have limited information-gathering and computational power (due the size and nature of our brains and bodies) (Peterson and Flanders 2002), limited energy (Corcoran and Mussweiler 2010, Macrae, Milne and Bodenhausen 1994) and, most often, limited time (Weenig and Maarleveld 2002). To 3 By ‘cognition’ we mean how the human body and mind integrates and makes sense of information. It is both a precondition for, and subsumes, the narrower concept of ‘decision making,’ which has connotations of conscious reasoning aimed at a particular actionable outcome. Homo economicus is largely a model of the latter, which takes the former for granted, essentially ignoring the important constraints imposed by the task of selecting and processing relevant information (Dougouliagos 1994). Here, we argue that an empirically sound understanding of decision-making cannot be usefully separated from broader theories of cognition. Hence, for the purposes of this paper, we tend to conflate the two when presenting our revised set of descriptive principles. 37 survive and flourish, we thus appear to have evolved intuitive and largely pre-rational (Greene and Haidt 2002) mechanisms and strategies for making good-enough decisions (particularly in hunter gatherer-type contexts) given these limited resources. In this sense, our minds are not unlike doctors and nurses who engage in ‘triage’: a technique used in emergency situations with multiple casualties, whereby medical workers have to rapidly decide who gets treated, how, and in what priority, given limited amounts of time, supplies and personnel. The analogy is apt, in that we are continually inundated with an immense volume of potentially relevant information, and have to use our combined but limited powers of accumulated experience, instinct, and various degrees of conscious deliberation to decide how thoroughly (if at all) new data will be attended to, and in what order. Throughout this process, we must all the while economize for our limited reserves of time, energy and computational power. In other words, our minds are predisposed to sacrifice detail for efficiency. The above vision lies in stark contrast to Homo economicus, who is assumed to make the best possible, fully-conscious, utility-maximizing decisions irrespective of the actual computational, energetic and temporal limits imposed by our physical makeup and surrounding context (Doucouliagos 1994). In the language of analogy, this model resembles more of an ‘omnipotent, omniscient supercomputer’ than it does the humble but effective ‘triage nurse’ implied by cognitive research. Shifting from an unwitting belief in the former, to an explicit 38 integration of the latter, seems a pre-requisite for establishing a more empirically-responsible model of the human actor.4 2.3.2 Different goals, different glasses: what we perceive is a function of our goals An explicit acknowledgment of our species’ computational, energetic and temporal limits begs the question: how, exactly, is it that we humans parse complexity efficiently when making decisions? The canonical model assumes that we hold all relevant information in our minds simultaneously and apply a set of consistent decision rules until we arrive at an objectively optimal outcome (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). Yet, from an empirically-informed perspective, how one parses complexity, which includes first distinguishing what is ‘relevant’ from what is not, is largely dictated by one’s in situ goals (Peterson and Flanders 2002), which are themselves shaped by a combination of one’s biological needs, one’s beliefs and one’s immediate context (Eclles and Wigfield 2002, Hickey and McCaslin 2001). Furthermore, psychology affirms that the motivations underlying our goals are experienced emotionally, mediated by affect (Buck 1985, Camerer, Loewenstein and Prelec 2005, Forgas 2000, Lowenstein, et al. 2001, Murphy and Zajonc 1993), and that emotions cannot be neatly separated from higher-level cognition (Haidt 2001, Pessoa 2008). 4 The central notion of the ‘triage nurse’ metaphor is efficiency under constraints. Since efficiency (defined broadly as a ratio of work output to energy inputs) is also “the bedrock of policy, planning and business approaches to sustainable development” (Jollands 2006), applying such a lens to human decision making has the additional benefit of aiding disciplinary and scalar consilience within and across ecological economics and other behavioural sciences. 39 In this sense, it can be said that even prior to any decision is made, our chosen methods for merely perceiving a situation itself (our metaphorical cognitive ‘glasses,’ of which we have many varieties) depend heavily on our moment-to-moment goals, which are, in turn, less conscious than they are visceral, liable to change readily in reference to context. In other words, our particular momentary goals largely dictate what narrow band of ambient information we attend to, while the rest gets filtered out (see Section 2.3.4). 2.3.3 The emotional elephant and rational rider: emotions bound reason, not the inverse Emotions appear to motivate, contextualize, enable, and arguably precede, more conscious reasoning processes (Damasio 1994, Lavine 1998, Zajonc 2000)—not the other way around (Haidt 2001). It can thus take significant effort to override emotional inclinations (or ‘affective appraisals,’ more broadly), with sheer will or rational reflection. Rather, a working assumption of efficiency implies the following: all else being equal, individuals will save time and energy by refraining from emotional introspection, and instead unwittingly allow their pre-conscious impulse towards emotional gratification, and away from emotional discomfort, to dictate the scope and direction of their reasoning. In other words, positive emotional experiences such as receiving peer validation, enjoying short-term gains, or avoiding the experience of shame, ostracism, paralyzing complexity, or loss, are all stronger fundamental drivers of behaviour than the more cerebral drive to, e.g., develop a flawless casual understanding of the world around us, or always remain perfectly consistent in speech and action (except insofar as one is able to associate said goals with an expectation of powerful 40 emotional reward). Peterson and Flanders (2002) argue that this is particularly relevant to why people hold tenaciously to rigid theories and belief systems in the face of contradictory or threatening evidence, an issue directly relevant for sustainability science (e.g., the denial of climate change or refusal to accept the reality of non-linear thresholds with respect to the effects of resource depletion). Social psychologist Haidt (2006) introduced a useful metaphor for this tightly linked dynamic between the behemoth of emotional motivation, and the incisive but relatively underpowered faculty of conscious abstract thought: the emotional ‘elephant’ and its rational ‘rider.’ An important point to note in this otherwise apt metaphor, is that the rider has evolved to help steer the elephant, not the other way around. As Haidt (2006) himself explains: [The] rider [is] placed on the elephant’s back to help the elephant make better choices. The rider can see farther into the future, and the rider can learn valuable information by talking to other riders or by reading maps, but the rider cannot order the elephant around against its will (17). The contrast between the model of cognitive efficiency that begins to emerge from these cumulative analogies, and the notion of a coolly rational Homo economicus, is stark. Whereas the latter implies a near Spock5-like absence of emotion, paired with the unlimited freedom of an omniscient, unconstrained supercomputer, the former—to begin melding our metaphors—suggests a resource-constrained metaphorical ‘triage nurse,’ with an array of 5 I.e., Mr. Spock, the famously logical, emotionally unengaged character on the original science-fiction show ‘Star Trek.’ 41 discrete, goal-specific ‘glasses,’ serving as humble navigator atop a powerful elephant-boss of emotion. We discuss some implications of this more nuanced model for future sustainable development research in the conclusion. 2.3.4 Filter then fill-in-the-blanks: we mostly filter complexity and complete patterns Homo economicus implies humans make decisions by applying something akin to the so-called weighted additive rule (‘Franklin’s Rule’). This is the idea that one tallies the pros and cons of any given action, assumes the perfect commensurability of said pros and cons, cancels out those of equal weight and arrives at a clear decision outcome (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). While some specific contexts may allow for such deliberate and systematic evaluation, empirical findings suggest human cognition, culminating in decision-making, is more akin to (1) the application of a sequence of filters, (see Figure 2.1) followed by (2) pattern completion. One can think of this heuristically as a “filter and fill-in-the-blanks” process. The act of filtering complexity begins physically, with our body’s sensory inputs. Evolutionary theory suggests these have adapted to be able to capture only the small amount of information around us most relevant to our survival (particularly in a hunter-gatherer context), and to our moment-to-moment goals (see Section 2.3.2, above) (Peterson and Flanders 2002).6 Once information has been filtered through our senses, and the metaphorical ‘glasses’ determined by our in situ goals (see Section 2.3.2), it then progresses to our brain’s 6 For example, we detect sound waves but not radio waves, and middle-spectrum light but not ultraviolet light, let alone the near-infinite quantity of other potential data of which we are still unaware. 42 neural circuitry, the content of which can be thought of, here, as a memory bank of previous experiences (Bar 2009). In metaphorical terms, it can be useful to imagine this memory bank as an ever-expanding collection of ‘maps,’ compiled and revised continually over the course of our lives, each map representing our understanding of a prototypical object or situation. Importantly, the function of these ‘maps’ (known in the broader literature as ‘mental representations,’ of which there are many varieties—see Figure 2.2) is to suggest, based on previous experience, how we should behave in situ to achieve our desired goals (Peterson and Flanders 2002, D'Andrade 1995). Importantly, cognitive studies suggest that for this process we rely largely on associative thinking, whereby we compare and contrast current stimuli with what appear to be relevant ‘maps’, i.e., stored memories of previous experience (see Section 2.3.5)7 (Bar 2009, Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Slingerland 2008). We are then able to reason by analogy to ‘complete the pattern’, as it were. That is to say, if one’s brain remembers A+B=C, and, via an intuitive, associative process of comparison and contrast, new stimulus ‘D’ is deemed similar in character to ‘A,’ then one’s brain ‘completes the pattern’ by inferring that D+B probably also equals C. One then proceeds to act as if that were so (Bar 2009, Lakoff and Johnson 1999).8 7 On a physiological level, one can think of this process as follows: rather than make sense of each incoming sensory input entirely anew, our mind recruits already existing neural networks to compare and contrast new sensory experiences with memories of previous ones it deems similar or relevant (Bar 2009, Fauconnier and Turner 2002). 8In a sustainable development context, the benefit transfer method of ecosystem service valuation, for instance, is a transparent example of this. 43 Phrased differently, once information has been filtered through our senses, as per our in situ goals, we appear pre-disposed to intuitively and pre-consciously scan for similarities and differences with respect to previous experience, and act accordingly (Bar 2009). This is less effortful (Gilovitch, Griffin and Kahneman 2002), and hence more efficient, than applying such processes as the idealized weighted additive rule described above (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). 2.3.5 Efficient cognition is distributed: the ‘elephant and rider’ belong to a herd A Homo economicus model assumes people process inputs, and proceed to weigh pros and cons, as autonomous, independent beings. An empirical perspective, however, reminds us that this view is more early modern European idealism than fact (Persky 1995, Winch 1992). Rather, our cognitive processes are deeply dependent on our environment. We develop and operate in a context most often replete with socio-cultural and technological means for further reducing one’s cognitive load. For instance, we defer to skilled or knowledgeable community members when dealing with a complex issue requiring action, we use modern information technology such as the internet to clarify what to do about virtually any conceivable problem, or we defer to our peer groups to determine contextually appropriate behavior (e.g., Goldstein, Cialdini and Griskevicius 2008). This penchant for offloading one’s cognitive burden onto a more effective or reliable entity is known as ‘distributed cognition’ (Giere and Moffatt 2003). By helping to reduce individual mental effort, distributed cognition functions as another key mechanism of efficiency (Zhang and Patel 2006), continually shaping our cognitive 44 strategies and development to help us better adjust to our social and ecological milieu. In metaphorical terms, one can think of the ubiquity of distributed modes of cognition by imagining Haidt’s (2006) elephant and rider as merely one human-pachyderm pair in a vast herd of other elephants and riders, each of whom is regularly copying, taking cues from, and communicating with, others in the herd. 2.3.6 Heuristics are the rule, not the exception: brains are not lazy computers Empirical research in sustainable development, and social science broadly, is now replete with examples of flagrant violations of Homo economicus (Gintis 2000, Gilovitch, Griffin and Kahneman 2002, Henrich, et al. 2001, McDaniels, et al. 2003). However, the slew of biases that have been identified to account for these apparent idiosyncrasies of human judgment are often popularly interpreted as just that: idiosyncrasies, flaws, or cracks in an otherwise firmly rationalist foundation. Such an interpretation only makes sense against an empirically-uninformed backdrop, wherein people are assumed to be fully self-conscious, rational maximizers of abstract utility who occasionally and unwisely cut corners by deferring to fast-and-frugal ‘heuristics’ (cognitive shortcuts) for dealing with complexity. That characterization is a radical misunderstanding (Kahneman 2003), symptomatic of the lingering paradigmatic privilege enjoyed by the canonical model. In contrast, from the unified perspective we are presenting here, heuristics are not ‘shortcuts’ for a system that otherwise reasons everything in a fully self-aware, linear, utilitarian 45 fashion. Rather, it is exactly the inverse: humans possess a cognitive and behavioural system optimized for in situ efficiency, not precise utility maximization. From this view, ‘heuristics’ are especially obvious examples of the fundamental and indispensable process of emotionally-driven, goal-oriented, time- and energy-efficient complexity reduction that is continually at work in people’s minds. Fully conscious reasoning (which may or may not be explicitly structured on, or well approximated by, a model of abstract utility maximization) can sometimes arise, under certain conditions. However, much of cognition occurs in a semi-automatic, associative manner, shaped profoundly by one’s surrounding context in confluence with one’s set of underlying motivations, which in turn are experienced emotionally and viscerally (Buck 1985, Damasio 1994, Lavine 1998, Slovic, et al. 2007). In other words, cognitive research suggests that Haidt’s (2006) allegorical elephant rider is not a hyper-rational supercomputer with unlimited time and energy, who nonetheless gets lazy. Rather, the rider is, as described in Section 2.3.1, more like a full-time triage nurse whose default state is to make quick-and-dirty decisions in the face of voluminous complexity, and limited time and energy. Only when conditions are just right does the metaphorical triage nurse experience a lull in pressure, enabling him or her to deliberate at greater length, and with greater precision and foresight, than would normally be affordable. Otherwise, the triage nurse goes with his or her experience-informed, emotionally-mediated ‘gut.’ In the context of sustainable development, looking at things from this perspective can help us de-mystify, and perhaps re-theorize, some of the apparently less ‘rational,’ more 46 bemusing examples of observed behaviour alluded to above. With specific respect to sustainable development research, these include the embedding effect (McDaniels, et al. 2003), hyperbolic discounting (Gintis 2000), strong reciprocity (Gintis 2000), hyper-fair offers in economic games (Henrich, et al. 2001), seemingly unrealistic optimism or risk appraisals (Gilovitch, Griffin and Kahneman 2002), and so on. While an underlying theory of unconstrained rationality would perceive these as anomalies, a vision of the human mind as deeply embedded in shifting social-ecological contexts, engaging in constant information ‘triage’ and motivated to achieve desirable emotional states rather than abstract maximum utility, would in fact predict such kinds of behaviour. 2.3.7 Analogy as the unit of thought: the elephant rider navigates with maps Kahneman and Knetsch (1992) compellingly argue that respondents to willingness-to-pay (WTP) questions (e.g., for the protection of lakes) often treat the hypothetical transaction not as if they were ‘purchasing an outcome’ (a contrived, unfamiliar task in reference to non-marketed environmental goods like distant lakes) but rather as if they were ‘donating to a cause’ (an only roughly analogous, but much more familiar, and hence less cognitively taxing, exercise). For WTP researchers, who are generally more interested in approximating the total economic value of environmental goods (e.g., lakes) than they are in respondents’ donation preferences, this sort of response behaviour can be a significant challenge, resulting in the potential under-valuing of public goods (i.e., the embedding effect) (Kahneman and Knetch 1992, McDaniels, et al. 2003). What accounts for this sort of behaviour, and why is it surprising? 47 Evidence suggests the answer lies, again, in our propensity toward cognitive efficiency (or ‘information triage’, see Section 2.3.1), which requires us to use all neurological resources available to make actionable sense out of vast quantities of incoming data as quickly and effortlessly as possible. Above, we described how people do this by drawing on memories of previous experience that appear relevant, and by then ‘completing the pattern’ (see Section 2.3.4). This can also be helpfully conceptualized as reasoning ‘by analogy’ (Bar 2009, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Slingerland 2008). Different disciplines focus on different aspects of this process, using different vocabulary.9 Despite said diversity of nomenclature, each field’s conception of this mechanism has in common the notion of analogy: using one, relatively familiar, tangible, or otherwise easily recalled domain of knowledge (‘source domain’) to make sense of, and reason about, another, relatively less familiar, domain (‘target domain’).10 9 Artificial intelligence researchers call this ‘case-based reasoning’ (De Mantaras, et al. 2005). Cognitive linguists call this the ‘mapping’ of ‘source domains’ (familiar, tangible ideas or memories) onto ‘target domains’ (more opaque, less familiar realms of knowledge or complexity) (Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Lakoff and Johnson1999, Slingerland 2008). Philosophers of science call this ‘model-based reasoning’ and have documented the crucial role that mental experimentation using this aspect of cognition plays in the creation and refinement of new scientific concepts (Magnani and Nersessian 2002). 10 A classic, and especially clear, example of analogical reasoning is described by Gentner and Gentner (in Gentner and Stevens 1983). They examined how different ‘mental models’ (internal, mental representations of external reality) can affect students’ reasoning about electrical circuits. The authors found that the students who participated in their study tended to think about electricity in one of two ways: one, like a flowing liquid or, two, like a density of particles. Those participants who imagined electrical current to flow like a liquid were more accurate in their predictions about various arrangements of batteries in a circuit than they were about the effects of resistors on a circuit. The exact inverse held true for participants whose mental models characterized electricity as a density of particles. Those who reasoned using the flow analogy were best able to distinguish between current and voltage, which are analogous to the flow-rate and pressure of a moving fluid, respectively. Those who preferred a particle analogy were best able to account for the role of resistors, because the latter operate like barriers containing gates, which restrict the number of electrons passing through per unit of time. 48 Key to any notion of analogical reasoning is the idea that one takes a salient attribute of one thing (e.g., the fact that water ‘flows’) and ‘projects’ or ‘maps’ it onto another thing (e.g., electricity), in order to make new and useful inferences (e.g., that electricity can be thought to flow, giving rise to the idea of ‘current’) (Gentner and Gentner 1983). By engaging in this kind of reasoning, we can make use of lessons already learned from previous experience when navigating new scenarios that we deem roughly analogous (Bar 2009). This mechanism, which cognitive linguists call the ‘invariance principle’ (Lakoff 1993), appears to be a core feature of our cognition (Peterson 1999, Peterson and Flanders 2002). We are also able to selectively combine aspects of different source domains together to create entirely new, increasingly detailed analogical representations of the world around us (a process called ‘conceptual blending’). This capacity to usefully blend analogies appears to be a fundamental mechanism of human creativity (Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Slingerland 2008). Nonetheless, despite the efficiency and creativity that analogical reasoning affords, it does have drawbacks. In the psychological study of heuristics, analogical reasoning gone awry is known as ‘attribute substitution’ (Kahneman 2003). This occurs when a person erroneously (often unconsciously) assumes similarity between cases that are in fact different in consequential ways, and then goes on to make an error in judgment stemming from that difference (in essence, using the wrong ‘map’). The embedding effect, described above, is merely one such example. Given these findings, we argue it can be helpful to think of people as always relying on some kind of simplified ‘map’ or ‘analogical representation,’ in a broad sense (be it an internal 49 representation such as a ‘mental model,’ a specific, analogous memory, or an external representation, such as a literal, physical image, text, etc.) to frame and guide their interactions with the complex world around them (Peterson and Flanders 2002, Shore 1996). (See Figure 2.2 for a typology of the various categories of analogical representation described in the cognitive science literature.) As psychologists Peterson and Flanders (2002) argue: “We are doomed to formulate conceptual structures that are much simpler than the complex phenomena they are attempting to account for.” (429) The question is not why we rely on such simplifications; cognitive science suggests this is inevitable given our species’ biologically-mediated perceptual, energetic and temporal limitations (Peterson 1999, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). Rather, the more relevant question to answer is what factors influence people to draw on one analogical representation versus another, when, and why. In other words, how does Haidt’s (2006) proverbial elephant-rider duo determine which map to use? We consider this question in Section 184.108.40.206, below. 50 Figure 2.1 Abstracted schematic of the complexity-reduction process This figure is a synthesized representation, in abstract terms, of the process whereby we use our bodies and minds to filter the vast barrage of new data with which we are perpetually confronted. This iterative helps us make reasonable inferences that facilitate useful action (Bar 2009, Giere and Moffatt 2003, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Slingerland 2008, Peterson and Flanders 2002). 51 Figure 2.2 Typology of analogical representations This figure shows a range of various types of analogical representations (metaphorical ‘maps’) of previous experience that we draw upon when attempting to make sense of how to act in the face of new data. Different disciplines tend to focus on different varieties of representation, and often use different nomenclature. For clarity’s sake, here we have ordered some key varieties on two axes: physical structure, and temporal structure. (Slade 1991, Kolodner 1992, D'Andrade 1995, Eubanks 1999, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Lakoff 2007, Atran and Medin 2010). 52 220.127.116.11 Analogies are chosen by availability, associations, and contextual cues For those of us studying real human behaviour in the context of sustainable development, it is helpful to know which kinds of analogies people will tend to draw on, when, and why. For instance, why would respondents draw on experiences of donation, rather than commerce—or even simple addition—when answering WTP questions about protecting all the lakes in a country, versus just one lake? What factors would help in better designing surveys to accommodate these kinds of tendencies? In cognitive terms, this question could be phrased as: Why do people’s brains select one source domain, rather than another, to reason about a given target domain?12 A diversity of research findings (see Sections 18.104.22.168.1 and 22.214.171.124.2, below) suggest at least two answers to this question, one involving a proximate cause, and the other a more distal cause. 126.96.36.199.1 Availability The first, proximate influence on which analogical representation one draws upon is availability (or ‘accessibility’): this is simply the relative ease with which something comes to mind relative to something else (Tversky and Kahneman 1973). The more readily available a given domain of thought is, the more likely it is that we will draw on it to reason about any given situation, as doing so requires less effort than drawing on a less available domain. All else 12 For clarity, consider Gentner and Gentner’s (1983) electrical current experiment once more. In terms of the experiment, the question we are asking here is why some students chose to think of electrical current as a flowing liquid, while others chose to think of it as a series of small round objects. Moreover, why were the source domains they chose limited to the two mentioned here? Why didn’t the participants in the experiment choose to think of electrical current as something else entirely, such as a donkey, or frying pan? 53 held equal, what makes a given domain ‘available,’ or ‘accessible,’ for our minds to reason with involves at least two factors: (1) how frequently the domain is recalled; i.e., one’s ‘habits of mind’ (Bang, Medin and Atran 2007), which, in physical terms, equates to how practiced we are at exercising the particular neuronal pathways associated with that given domain (Fuster 1999, Read 1995); and (2) how emotionally charged (or ‘affect’ laden) a given domain is (Keller, Siegrist and Gutscher 2006). The more often one ‘rehearses’ (i.e., accesses or ‘activates’) a particular source domain, and the more intense emotions it evokes, the more available it is. Hence, we are more likely to draw on that domain, or ‘map,’ rather than another, when attempting to interpret a new instance of complexity.13 188.8.131.52.2 Context and associative networks The second, more distal cause determining which source domain an individual will be disposed to draw on has to do with what creates relative differences in availability to begin with (i.e., when all else is not held equal as above). At least two other factors in addition to the basic effects of rehearsal and emotional content further determine availability. These are (1) context, broadly conceived; and, (2) the particular network of associations amongst various emotions, ideas, memories and concepts that each of us has (what Bower (1981) coined ‘associative networks’). There are a plethora of findings in psychology detailing the effects of context (often called ‘priming’ effects) on how we make sense of complexity and, ultimately, how we take 13 See, e.g., Leiserowitz (2006) and Roeser (2012) on the role of affect, associative imagery, and availability in risk perception, particularly as concerns climate change. 54 decisions (Kusev, van Schaik and Aldrovandi 2012, Tversky and Kahneman 1981, Smith and Semin 2004, Storbeck and Clore 2008). Context, here, should be thought of in its broadest possible sense. Through a largely unconscious process of association (Claxton 1999, Dijksterhuis and Nordgren 2006), virtually anything a person perceives or experiences at a given time can have an influence on his or her thinking, on the analogical representation (or ‘map’) of the situation the person’s brain (re)constructs and, ultimately, on his or her choice of action. This includes external context, such as how presenting bicultural people with images associated with one or the other of their two learned cultures can produce different responses to the same question (Benet-Martinez, et al. 2002). It also includes ‘internal’ context: one’s real-time emotional state, object of mental attention, prior train of thought, or preexisting underlying goals (e.g., Cohen et al.’s (2006) demonstration of how the emotions evoked by a perceived insult can directly alter how an individual behaves in an experiment minutes later14). All of these contextual factors interact continuously with our networks of mental and emotional associations to help us draw on apparently useful ‘maps’—i.e., appropriate memories from which to reason analogically—when dealing with a new instance of complexity.15 14 The notion that different emotional states can activate different associative memory networks, and thus affect decision-making, is known in the cognitive science literature as the ‘somatic marker hypothesis’ (Damasio 1996) 15 Interestingly, with reference to public understanding of ecological science, it is worth noting that the greater the number of cues to which an individual feels he or she must consciously attend, the more likely it appears that individual will default to a very simplistic analogical representation (Ableson and Levi 1985), imaginably as a response to the emotional discomfort of cognitive overload (Peterson and Flanders 2002). 55 Figure 2.3 Metaphorical representation of ‘Homo efficens’, the efficient complexity manager model of the human actor This representation combines (a) Haidt’s (2006) ‘elephant and rider’ metaphor (see Section 2.3.3) with (b) the other principles described in Section 2.3. The powerful ‘elephant’ is analogous to our emotions, which lie at the root of our motivational system. The less powerful, but more consciously deliberate ‘rider’ is analogous to the cognitive process that is required in order for us to make useful sense of the vast quantities of data to which we are constantly exposed. In this, the Efficient Complexity Manager Model, the ‘rider’ is likened to a ‘triage nurse’ (see Section 56 2.3.1) in that (s)he is always working under a set of constraints (limited time, energy, and processing power) and must therefore make continual ‘fast-and-frugal’ (i.e., efficient) decisions about what to attend to, and how, so as to guide action. One’s particular in situ goals, which are dictated largely by the emotion-based motivation system, determine which ‘glasses’ the rider must wear (see Section 2.3.2): different goals require attention to different kinds of information, as our limited minds are unable to attend to everything at once (Peterson and Flanders 2002). To further increase efficiency, the rider always refers to a ‘map’ of some sort to help guide action (see Section 2.3.5). Figurative ‘maps’ are in fact analogical representations of prior experience (see Figure 2.2). Referring to ‘maps’ saves time and energy by precluding the need to reason entirely from scratch. Finally, the elephant-rider pairs in the distance represent the notion that each of us is in fact part of a much wider network, or ‘herd’, of cognitive processing (see Section 184.108.40.206): by interacting, taking cues, and copying from those around us (both past and present), we are able to dramatically reduce each of our own individual cognitive burdens, and hence maximize the efficiency with which we determine appropriate actions. This last phenomenon is known as ‘distributed cognition.’ (Haidt 2006, Peterson and Flanders 2002, Peterson 1999, Giere and Moffatt 2003, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Kahneman 2003, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008).57 2.4 A formalized synthesis: the efficient complexity manager (ECM) model We have thus far outlined some of the common principles underlying what cognitive and behavioural scientists from various disciplines regard as the means whereby people tend to perceive their environment and, ultimately, make decisions. What a synthesis of these findings suggests is a model that emphasizes humans’ evolved ability to reduce massive complexity in a time- and energy-efficient way, a process bounded by our finite brains’ capacities and limitations16 (Peterson and Flanders 2002, Doucouliagos 1994, Shah and Oppenheimer 2008). As such, rather than judiciously applying abstract utility-maximization rules irrespective of context, it appears that people deal with complexity instead by being highly cognitively resourceful. We attend to the myriad contextual cues present at any given time (including both external, environmental cues, and internal, associative, physiological and emotional cues) to search efficiently for usefully analogous experiences already stored in our memories (or, by extension, available in our larger social, cultural, technological contexts). We then use said analogues to reason about the situation at hand—sometimes consciously, when conditions allow, but often not (Kahneman 2003). Finally, we act on the basis of said reasoning, a process roughly analogous to map-based (as opposed to abstract rule-based) navigation. Due to economy of time and energy, this process does not often involve a willful engagement in mental abstraction (such as consciously applying the weighted additive rule to all possible courses of action) or any substantial emotional introspection or self-reflection. Rather, underlying goals (Peterson and Flanders 2002), tied to pre-rational emotional impulses 16 These capacities and limitations are, presumably, a product of the particular social and ecological contexts in which our species evolved over deep time (Cosmides and Tooby 1994, Jackson 2002). 58 (Buck 1985, Greene and Haidt 2002), largely drive and contextualize both one’s perception of a given situation (Ohman 2001, Peterson and Flanders 2002) and one’s subsequent reasoning about it (Haidt 2001). Often, due to emotional factors and time and energy constraints, conscious reasoning does not even have the opportunity to surface at all (Kahneman 2003). In other words, in the interest of time and energy, Haidt’s (2006) metaphorical elephant often acts on its own, without significant deferral to the more deliberate rider (a phenomenon Kahneman (2003) popularly refers to as ‘System 1’ thinking, or ‘hot’ cognition, which he contrasts with the more time-intensive, reasoned ‘System 2’ approach of the conscious mind, also sometimes called ‘cold’ cognition). Given these attributes, here we refer to our synthesized characterization of the human actor as the ‘Efficient Complexity Manager’ (ECM) model or, simply, Homo efficens. This model is not intended to be a conclusive or comprehensive account of human cognition and motivation. Rather, it is meant as a simplified expression of how recent findings can be unified in a consistent fashion to help better integrate empirical insights from various disciplines into a coherent, contemporary theory. To clarify, immediately below we demonstrate in eight condensed, chronological steps how the ECM model suggests people proceed from perception, to cognition, and ultimately to action. While in reality the process is not likely to be entirely linear, here we present it linearly, purely for clarity’s sake: 59 1) Perceive Stimulus. We encounter a new instance of complexity—the ‘target domain’ (Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Slingerland 2008)—interpreted via our body’s sensory inputs. 2) Draw on Context. We intuitively draw on contextual information to further reduce the time and effort required to usefully interpret the stimulus. Context, here, includes framing, and all other ‘external’ social and environmental conditions (what we see, hear or sense at the time), as well as ‘internal’ mental, physiological and emotional conditions (what is ‘on our mind,’ how we feel at the time, pre-existing goals and motivations that we experience largely emotionally) (Damasio 1994, Damasio 2000, Lavine 1998, Slovic, et al. 2007). This contextual information helps our mind narrow in on which source domain(s) (‘maps’) of previous experience are most relevant in making further sense of the stimulus (physiologically speaking, which clusters of previously instantiated neural connections to use to determine appropriate action) (Kokinov and Petrov 2001, Peterson 1999). 3) Draw on Associative Networks. Given the perceived attributes of the stimulus, and all contextual cues, we then use association to search our figurative ‘databank’ of memories for analogous cases (in metaphorical terms, useful ‘maps’; in physiological terms, relevant clusters of neural connections). This process is not unlike using detailed search terms (analogous, here, to contextual cues in Step 2, directly above) to query a tagged database such as an internet search engine (analogous to the mind’s associative networks of memory) for relevant domains 60 of knowledge from which to draw in making sense of the stimulus (Bar 2009). Domains (‘maps’) that we use more commonly (i.e., more frequently recalled or ‘rehearsed’) will be easier for our mind to access, and we will thus be more likely to draw on those domains relative to others (Fuster 1999). 4) (Re)construct an Analogical Representation. Our mind then draws from the source domains of knowledge we deem relevant in light of Steps 3 and 4 to (re)construct an analogical representation (a contextually refined ‘map’) of the stimulus that our mind is attempting to interpret (Fauconnier and Turner 2002). Depending on context, this process can range from being highly conscious, to being entirely unconscious and nearly instantaneous (Kahneman 2003). At this point, we may also deem it appropriate to defer to other sources (e.g., more knowledgeable individuals, social norms, technology) when constructing a simplified representation of the situation (i.e., reliance on distributed cognition) (Giere and Moffatt 2003). 4a) Identify Goals. Parallel to Steps 1-4 above, we are continually reshaping our goals dependent on our surrounding context and emotional state. New stimuli, new contexts, new associations and new analogical representations, feed back into this process to create goals specific to time and place. These goals may include, but are not limited to, maximizing our personal material gain. They may also include whatever else produces a sense of emotional reward given the particular context (e.g., be that averting a negative feeling such as shame or 61 fear, or increasing a positive feeling such as a sense of security, inclusion or social worth) (Buck 1985, Eclles and Wigfield 2002, Markus and Kitayama 1991, Peterson and Flanders 2002). Because this process is so intimately linked with emotion and affect (Haidt’s (2006) figurative ‘elephant’), it is largely pre-rational (Greene and Haidt 2002). 5) Reason. In light of the goals determined in Step 4a, we then use the model constructed in Step 4 to reason about how we should act towards the stimulus. As with Step 4, this can range from an intuitive, time- and energy-efficient, largely unconscious process (i.e., what Kahneman (2003), Stanovich and West (2000) call ‘System 1’) to a more deliberate, energy-intensive, fully conscious process, when specific conditions allow (what Kahneman (2003), Stanovich and West (2000) call ‘System 2’). 6) Act. We act accordingly. 7) Observe and Remember the Outcome. We then observe the outcome of our chosen action, and said outcome is stored in our databank of memories (i.e., our ‘collection of maps’) to be drawn upon in future iterations of Step 3 (Bar 2009). 8) Iterate. The process is iterative: each outcome serves as a new stimulus, and the cycle repeats ad infinitum. Our mind thus continually accumulates lived experience, perpetually deepening its databank of associative memory. 62 Linearly, steps 1 to 4 of this process can be represented as follows: Steps 5, 6 and 7 can be represented as: In total, the iterative process can be represented visually as in Figure 2.4, below. The numbers (1, 2, etc.) highlight the approximate (if simplified) sequential ordering of steps (e.g., Step 1, Step 2, etc.). 63 Figure 2.4 Sequential flow diagram of the efficient complexity manager (ECM) model This diagram represents how the Efficient Complexity Manager (ECM) model, or Homo efficens, accounts for how people reduce complexity into actionable behaviour while economizing for time and energy. The numbers in brackets (1-8) indicate the sequence of steps in an approximate linear order. See Section 2.4 for a full description. (Bar 2009, Damasio 1994, Damasio 2000, Fauconnier and Turner 2002, Haidt 2001, Kahneman 2003, Lakoff and Johnson 1999, Lavine 1998, Peterson and Flanders 2002, Slovic, et al. 2007) 2.5 Conclusion A core challenge to the field of sustainable development is crafting a clear and unique identity that distinguishes it from the neoclassical economics paradigm, while avoiding the 64 pitfall of becoming a catch-all for any and all transdisciplinary or heterodox work (Ropke 2005, Spash 2012). We believe that a strongly evidence-based, explicitly descriptive (as opposed to normative or wishful) model of the human actor can add to the growing theoretical foundation that is key to consolidating such an identity for the field. Thus, here we have presented a descriptive model of the human actor (the Efficient Complexity Manager model, or ‘Homo efficens’) that synthesizes diverse empirical findings and theory on cognition, motivation and decision-making into what we hope is a manageable and useful summation. While the canonical model is premised on the notion of rational self-interest, often narrowly construed—the product of a blurred mix of both normative thought and questionable evidence—the ECM model revolves instead around the notion of humans’ cognitive efficiency, achieved through mechanisms that are perpetually guided and contextualized by emotion. Importantly, this model is intended as a purely descriptive synthesis of recent findings from relevant disciplines, as distinct from any normative vision of an idealized human actor. While there is certainly a role to be played both by normative visions, and by descriptive accounts, respectively, we believe clearly making such a distinction clear is crucial for future progress on this topic. With further respect to the issue of progress, we reiterate that the ECM model is by no means comprehensive or final and should not be interpreted as such. Rather, it is intended only as a first-cut synthesis of descriptive human actor research, which, ideally, will help ecological economics to ‘exorcise the ghost’ of Homo economicus from the field. Finally, the synthesis we 65 have provided here also implies some fruitful avenues for future research. These include, in particular: studies and methods that further examine the nuances of (1) in situ choice behaviour (e.g., Schlapfer and Fischhoff 2012, Welsh and Kuhling 2009); (2) the role of mental models, analogy and metaphor in both participants’ and researchers’ thinking, (e.g., Anderies, et al. 2011, Norton and Noonan 2007, Raymond, et al. 2013, Schulter 2009) and, (3) the role of affect and emotion in economic and environmental decision-making (e.g., Arana and Leon 2009, Arana and Leon 2008, Boyer 2008, Finucane, et al. 2000). Many researchers are already employing methods aimed at analyzing precisely these factors. We hope that the simple, but unified, model we have presented here will help provide an even clearer, more solid theoretical foundation for the continuation and refinement of such work. 66 Chapter 3: The Salient Moustache and the Silent Majority—cognition, culture and (un)sustainable development in the Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 3.1 Introduction Development goals, no matter how straightforward or achievable they may seem, are often fatally sabotaged by actors’ implicit beliefs. These beliefs, or “unknown knowns” (Zizek 2006, Clark and Ranney 2010), consist of largely unspoken, sometimes pre-conscious assumptions about how the world works (Peterson and Flanders 2002), including inferences about other actors’ motivations and beliefs (Noelle-Neumann 1993, Prentice and Miller 1996). They are an ubiquitous feature of human behaviour (Peterson and Flanders 2002), affecting decisions across all parties, from politicians, to civil servants, to local citizens. When left unexamined, implicit beliefs can and do surface in a multitude of vexing ways, from negative effects on well-being due to implicit mismatches between expectations and reality (Victor, et al. 2013), to skewed outcomes due to unarticulated but deeply held beliefs about gender roles (Maertens 2013). In this paper, we draw on fieldwork in and around the Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, in northern Israel, to demonstrate how such ‘unknown knowns’ can be identified, understood and made transparent to relevant actors. In so doing, we draw on theory rooted in the emerging field of cognition-and-culture, which synthesizes insights from disciplines such as psychology, anthropology, economics and cognitive science to make actionable sense of people’s real-world, in situ behaviour. 67 3.2 Mt. Carmel UNESCO biosphere reserve Mount Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (MCBR) is a contested space of multiple land-uses in what is today northern Israel. The 26,600-hectare Reserve is situated on a raised plateau overlooking the Mediterranean Sea to the north and west, with a view of the verdant agricultural Galilee region to the east. The MCBR consists of a patchwork of forested national park and nature reserve, as well as several human settlements. Mount Carmel National Park (MCNP), which comprises the largest portion of the Reserve, was created in 1971 by the Israeli state. In 1996, successful petitioning on the part of a coalition of Israeli civil servants and state officials17 led UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) to designate the southern Mt. Carmel region a Biosphere Reserve (Frankenberg 2009). UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are unique protected areas nominally aimed at balancing conservation concerns with human development needs through a tripartite zoning system (UNESCO-MAB 2008). In the case of the MCBR, that ‘balancing’ of conservation and human concerns expresses itself in the form of tensions between the prerogatives of the state (which de facto represents the interests of the Hebrew-speaking Jewish majority of the country), and the 17 This coalition was led primarily by individuals in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of the Environment, faculty from the University of Haifa and the national Israeli UNESCO ‘Man and the Biosphere’ (MAB) committee. The notion was first raised in the context of a visit from Germany’s Environment Ministry in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. The German minister wanted to donate a Geographic Information System tool to an appropriate institutional recipient in Israel as a show of solidarity. There was heated contention amongst the various stakeholders as to who constituted the most appropriate recipient of the gift, and the notion of collaboratively petitioning for Mt. Carmel to receive Biosphere Reserve status was seen as a way to both improve future management of the area, while simultaneously healing inter-institutional strife (Frankenberg 2009). 68 residents of two Arab villages, ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel. ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel are located directly adjacent to each other in the heart of the MCBR and are home to approximately 11,300 and 16,000 residents respectively (ICBS 2012), most of whom belong to the insular, endogamous Druze community. The Druze of Mt. Carmel are descended from ancestors who migrated south from what is modern-day Lebanon to settle the region sometime in the 17th century CE, 200 years prior to modern Jewish immigration (Firro 1999, S. Falah 2002). Today, in the settled wake of the ethnic war that followed Israel’s founding as a Jewish state in 1948, the Carmel Druze constitute a small subset of the country’s remnant Arabic-speaking minority. In stark contrast to Muslim and Christian Arabs, Druze trace their confessional roots to an 11th century Egyptian syncretism of Shi’a Islam and neo-platonic philosophy, which later developed into a distinct esoteric tradition (Parsons 2000).18 The Druze religion as it exists today is now so secretive that the majority of Druze themselves are kept purposefully uninformed of the details of their faith by religious scholars. Only a minority within the community who take explicit religious vows and embark on a prescribed spiritual path are given gradual access to the Druze faith’s deeper teachings. This religiously initiated segment of Druze society identifies itself explicitly through a unique style of dress (including loose fitting black pants, white headgear and, in the case of males, outsized moustaches) as well as circumscribed patterns of behaviour, distinct from that of their less spiritual relatives (Dana 2003). 18 Most Druze today live in isolated towns scattered across mountainous highlands in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel (Parsons 2000). 69 The Druze are also a unique subpopulation in Israel insofar as they are the only sizeable Arabic-speaking, non-Jewish community to serve as conscripts in the Israeli army. This ‘special relationship’ was cemented during the 1948 Jewish-Arab war, and has resulted in the Druze being regarded as a key strategic asset to the Israeli state and military since that time (Parsons 2000). Nonetheless, tensions between the Druze of Mt. Carmel and the Jewish state authorities have been rising gradually for decades, due to conflict over land-use in and around the MCNP. Under Ottoman property law, many Druze claim hereditary ownership over tracts of land in what is now protected parkland. While the Israeli state recognizes these claims in principle, and has detailed records of ownership, Israel’s national park law bans owners from altering these parcels of territory in any way that departs from how said land was being used at the time of the national park’s declaration in 1971 (Rosenberg 2011). Given most of this land had either fallen into relative disuse, or was under small-scale agricultural production at that time, Druze today are thus legally banned from accessing their hereditary land for development, despite a rising shortage of living space within town limits. This paper first characterizes the contention over Mt. Carmel given these issues of limited land-access, describing how the Druze-state tension was further fuelled, literally, by a massive forest fire that ignited in the reserve in December 2010. Thereafter, we turn to insights provided by emerging theory in the behavioural sciences to reveal how and why some of the more entrenched assumptions on both sides of the tension have less to do with actual, robust differences over land-use preferences, and more to do with actors’ intuitive means for reducing the complexity and uncertainty of their difficult political landscape. The outcome of 70 said attempts to reduce complexity include an apparent essentialization of the Druze community both by non-Druze, as well as by the Druze themselves, as well as a widespread pattern of misassumptions about others’ preferences for housing and community development. Empirically, our findings are based on two iterations of interviews. The first iteration consisted of nine open narrative interviews both with relevant Israeli civil servants, and with local Druze, and both in individual and group settings. These were conducted by the paper’s first author over the period of 2009 to 2011, in ‘Isfiyya, in the wider MCBR, and in authorities’ offices in both Jerusalem and Kiryat Bialik. These initial, exploratory interviews revealed a strong set of claims about both the necessity, and the supposed ‘cultural impossibility,’ of higher density housing in the MCBR. To examine said claims more closely, we conducted 45 additional, more structured interviews with a wider convenience sample of the Druze population, using a modified mental-models protocol with questions employing response scales and targeted efforts to discriminate between more, versus less, absolute positions on the issue of land and housing. This second round of interviews was conducted by the paper’s first author, and a local interpreter, in February 2012. We describe the wording of the relevant parts of each protocol in situ, below, as we introduce the particular findings they generated. 71 3.3 Ignited tensions and fatalistic essentialisms Political ecologists have long recognized that all landscapes are neither ecologically nor socially neutral (Forsyth 2008). Rather, all current debates and claims of biological necessity are saturated with regional, national and transnational histories (Natter and Zierhofer 2002), and the competing priorities of political agents whose relative degrees of power are invariably asymmetrical (Escobar 1999). Biosphere reserves are often set up to mitigate the tensions borne by such conditions. MCBR is an example of precisely such an attempt. As many Mt. Carmel Druze explained to us: it is exceptionally difficult for local Druze to procure legal permits to do what they want with their land, which often involves plans to build stand-alone, single-family homes for their sons and their sons’ future families, as per centuries-old local practice. Not being able to provide such a stand-alone home for one’s male offspring is deeply stigmatizing, and decreases the eligibility of one’s children for marriage. In practice, Israeli authorities continue to cite park law, as well as the state’s conservation and forestry prerogatives, as reasons for withholding permits for what they refer to as ‘unplanned’ construction. The withholding of permits, however, is not a sufficient deterrent for many Druze, who have nonetheless openly risked subsequent fines by clearing land and building homes without permits, in active defiance of the state’s legal assertions (Rosenberg 2011). The result is ongoing ‘illegal’ and contested construction, the gradual encroachment of Druze villages towards park boundaries and increasingly tense and bitter relations between Druze residents and the relevant state authorities. The latter include representatives of the Ministry of the Interior, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and, to 72 some extent, the Jewish National Fund, which serves as the country’s de facto forestry body (see Chapter 4, Section 4.6). These tensions were resonant in the first round of interviews we conducted in the MCBR, which were minimally structured and used to elicit primary concerns with the present and future management of the area. Both local Druze interviewees and Israeli government employees invoked the problem of indefinite expansion of ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel city limits into the surrounding forest. Interviewees described the practice as ‘traditional,’ ‘unplanned,’ and generally non-sustainable. At the time of our fieldwork, the most obvious solution to this communal problem of land scarcity and growing demography was to begin building multistory multi-family apartment blocks, despite the fact that ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel have, since the 17th century CE until present, been dominated entirely by low-rise, stand-alone, single-family homes (see Figure 3.2). Several key interviewees, including both Druze locals, and Jewish state officials, each independently noted and expressed their support for this ‘untraditional’ option. Paradoxically, however, each of these interviewees also argued that virtually no one in the Druze community would be interested in entertaining such an idea. Instead, said interviewees appeared fatalistically accepting of the inevitable forest degradation and community-state conflict that they felt was sure to worsen over time. Worsen it did: in December 2010, a forest fire of unprecedented severity erupted on the southern slopes of Mt. Carmel. Government authorities were ill prepared for a fire of this magnitude, and over 40 civil servants died in the process of evacuation and fire containment 73 efforts. This made it the most deadly forest fire in Israel’s history (Oster 2010). The blaze, its resulting deaths, and speculation over its cause, ignited ethnic tensions almost immediately. This is at least partly due to the analogous memories it evoked: previous, smaller-scale fires in the area had been attributed to nationalistic Arab arsonists (Frankenberg 2009). The history of Zionism also contains numerous instances of Palestinian Arabs protesting Jewish immigration by lighting fires in forests that had been planted by Jews for the purposes of territorial demarcation, reinforcing Arab estrangement from the land (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). The 2010 fire served as a reminder of the tense nature of co-existence amongst Arabs (including Druze) and Jews in Israel’s north, leading some to speculate that the latest blaze was either an ‘act of terror’ (Ronen 2010) or the result of the Druze’s abuse of their surrounding forest. The latter ‘abuse’ was said to be rooted in a lack of aesthetic or ecological sensitivity, that is, a symptom of their ‘Arabness,’ and difference from Jews (e.g., Ynet 2010). 3.4 Theorizing the growing impasse Particularly in the wake of the 2010 fire, MCBR has become a highly politicized landscape. Theoretically, then, one approach to understanding the local dynamic is to focus upon the centrality of politics, power relations, and the role of the state in regulating Druze behaviour. However, this does run the risk of mapping Jewish-Arab relations too neatly onto the unique status of the Druze minority. Moreover, such an approach does not directly address why the housing question remains unresolved when both Druze and Jewish interviewees 74 already indicate openness to higher density housing as a viable option, even if this openness remains largely unbeknownst one to the other. To the first point, on status, the Druze have both a wider regional reputation, and a professed self-perception, of fierce political independence, twinned with a policy of military loyalty to whichever regime happens to govern their community at any given time. This has been explained, both by academics (Dana 2003) and by laypeople, as a collective defense mechanism for surviving in a historically hostile sectarian environment. This caricature is an essentialism, perhaps, but one that appears at least partially borne out by the documented record in Israel (Dana 2003), as well as by field observations in ‘Isfiyya19. Insofar as this characterization is accurate, the tense situation on Mt. Carmel is a result of a sectarian-political self-preservation strategy running headlong into the Israeli state’s interest in maximizing the amount of land under Jewish control, thus circumscribing independent Druze power to whatever degree politically—and geographically—feasible.20 Doubly unique to the Druze context, however, is that the otherwise conflictual nature of this community-state dynamic is offset by a delicate power balance whereby the Jewish state, 19 While conducting our research we were informed of several recent instances of direct clashes between Jewish state police and Druze locals, including an assault on Jewish police officers at the hands of elderly men, women and youth for perceived acts of disrespect while conducting drug-related arrests in the village. This particular incident occurred in the house directly adjacent to that of our interpreter. The local police station had also been firebombed and partially abandoned prior to our arrival. Simultaneously, in interviews and offhand conversation, young Druze men would express pride over their service in elite Israeli army units, and actively distinguish themselves from ‘Arabs’ (i.e., Muslim and Christian Arabic-speakers), as per their 'Jewish-like' loyalty to and identification with the Israeli state. 20 Hence, since 1971, the state has thus far refused to allow Druze owners unfettered access to their more remote parcels of legally owned land, now considered protected area (both on Mt. Carmel and elsewhere), while simultaneously turning a blind eye to permit infractions closer to town limits so as to avoid upsetting this delicate modus operandi. 75 while dominant, refrains from enforcing its own laws too literally, too close to Druze town limits. This approach is apparently used to avoid risking insurrection and the loss of a key domestic security ally (Rosenberg 2011). (Such a policy contrasts starkly with heavy-handed techniques used elsewhere in contested land under Israeli state control21). Viewed solely in this light, it seems sensible that many Druze would continue to construct ever-closer to park boundaries, even without permits, at least in part because they feel a sense of strategically-mediated insulation from state authority. Nonetheless, Druze interviewees we spoke to did both openly lament a rapidly dwindling amount of available land, and express a deep concern for the aesthetics of the surrounding forest that many Druze appear to associate directly with their communal identity. Why, then, has the Druze community not yet openly explored higher-density housing options? Even a gradual, partial shift to apartment dwelling would conceivably mitigate at least two specific, key problems facing the community: one, the risk of increasingly burdensome fines and rising tensions with the Jewish authorities (despite the community's relative insulation from heavy-handed state tactics, in recent years these tensions have verged on outright riots (Raved 2009)); and two, a relative undersupply of affordable housing for a growing number of young people, all of whom are expected, as per local custom, to settle permanently in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel (for males, this takes place upon return from obligatory army service). To make sense of these and related paradoxes, we choose here to supplement an analysis of power 21 Such techniques have included house demolitions and mass displacements of urban Palestinian and nomadic Bedouin communities, to which Druze and other Arabs with Israeli citizenship are frequently exposed through the national and international media (Al Jazeera 2013). 76 relations, which do prevail in MCBR as elsewhere, with an application of current theories on cognition—namely, how people interpret and integrate information to inform action. This approach seems useful insofar as it can help explain the otherwise perplexing persistence of some tightly held beliefs and positions, both cultural and political. Specifically, we will account for how and why actors in MCBR appear to be so fundamentally misconstruing each others’ preferences and beliefs, both about housing, and about the Biosphere Reserve itself, two phenomena we describe in greater detail below. Cognitive theory has several important insights to offer such lines of inquiry, particularly as applied to highly politicized contexts (Lau and Redlawsk 2001, Peterson and Flanders 2002). We refer here to work that explains how and why people cope with politically-charged, or otherwise difficult, situations. In brief, the theory is that in such contexts people are primarily complexity-reducing in the way they manage information and detail. Complexity-reduction habits can be efficient (thus, stress reducing), but also sub-optimal from the point of view of achieving desired outcomes (Fu and Gray 2006). In other words, the world, we know, is deeply complex, and people must navigate it while simultaneously economizing for both time and energy (Shah and Oppenheimer 2008) (see Chapter 2). Doing so involves the continual employment of techniques for making fast, reasonable inferences, and satisfactory (as opposed to optimal) decisions (G. Gigerenzer 2008). Moreover, people rely fundamentally on emotion and affect, felt viscerally and pre-consciously, as a fast, efficient cognitive currency to determine the sensibility of most of their decisions and beliefs in real-time (Peters, et al. 2006). One pervasive outcome of these complexity-reduction strategies is that people's social 77 cognition (i.e., beliefs about others’ beliefs) are not always accurate, even when applied to issues fundamental to individual or collective well-being (Prentice and Miller 1996, Evans 2008). Below we reveal and discuss specific, non-trivial ways this affects housing and (un)sustainable development patterns in the MCBR. 3.5 Imagining the other: perceiving stagnation in Druze society During our phase-one (i.e., in-depth, exploratory) interviews, several Israeli park managers in the region asserted that the only sustainable solution to the land crisis in the MCBR would be for local Druze to ultimately abandon their tradition of building single-family housing in an ‘unplanned’ manner, and instead begin to construct multistory apartment buildings. However, when we asked managers whether any of them had suggested this to the Druze community, we found that no one had done so, nor did they recall knowing anyone else who had. One key Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA) figure in the area responded to the question as follows (italics denote spoken emphasis): I don’t think there’s anybody [amongst the Druze] that would listen now to that so-called advice. They’d say, you know, we’re villagers, this is what we’re used to, and this is what we know. Druze residents we interviewed during the first phase of research echoed similarly essentialist-sounding assessments of their fellow ‘villagers.' Yet these same interviewees also expressed support for the idea of multistory apartment buildings in their community, citing both 78 demographic and ecological concerns. This directly contradicted the predictions of the government park managers. One senior Druze clan member expressed it thus: [We eventually need to build] big buildings, tall buildings with, like, 12 floors. Lots of people will be able to live in them, and we’ll [also be] protecting the environment. His reasoning was as follows: [This is because] the biosphere reserve is a place that we have to protect… [for] our oxygen, we must [protect] our trees. It’s a place both to live, and to protect! We need to protect the trees…[maybe] not pines… but the others, [such as] oak, olive, and the fruits that were here before [in earlier times]… like the biblical fruits…[and] they [in turn] protect the environment... Looking forward, this is what people should do. When asked what prevents local people from constructing apartments now, this interviewee provided the same logic as government interviewees: “Culture, beliefs: we’re used to believing that each person [i.e., male head of household] has one home only to himself [i.e., for him and his family]...Maybe in the future [this will change].” The speaker went on to argue that, despite the potentially catalyzing effect the recent fire could have on locals' environmental values, such change would still take at least 30 years. Certainly, there were some important differences in the broader narratives expressed by park managers and Druze interviewees, respectively. Generally, the park managers expressed more pessimism, particularly about the cumulative, ecological damages that would occur to the Biosphere Reserve in the process of continued Druze construction. The Druze 79 interviewees were more accepting of the fact that necessary ‘cultural’ change would have to be, in their estimate, very gradual. Nonetheless, there was a paradoxical commonality, in that interviewees from both groups saw a need for higher-density housing, but doubted or even denied the possibility that any significant proportion of other local Druze would currently be open to such an option. For some reason, both groups seemed to be essentializing the local Druze community as stagnant and resistant to change, even though all interviewees indicated considerable awareness and acceptance of the ultimate necessity for change. To explore these observations in greater depth, we later conducted a second set of more structured interviews with a wider sample of the local Druze population (n=45). We sought a broad sample of interviewees by stationing interviewers at two prominent central grocery stores in ‘Isfiyya. All adult shoppers were approached with no other selection criteria beyond exiting or entering the store. This produced a ‘convenient’ but comparatively random sample of 45 local adults of both genders, both religious and secular, of a wide variety of ages. Interviews were conducted in the local dialect of Arabic, mixed with some Hebrew (a fluent second language for all Israeli Druze), when appropriate. 3.6 Housing: a surprising diversity of opinions and rationales What first struck us during our second phase of interviews was the wide range of opinions interviewees expressed on future housing possibilities in their villages. The existence of diversity in-and-of itself directly contradicted earlier, phase-one interviewees’ predictions that virtually the entire Druze community would be equally uninterested in untraditional 80 options. For this second phase of interviews, each person was initially asked: "How good an idea do you think it would be to have multistory multi-family apartment blocks in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel?” They were then requested to express their opinion on a 10 point scale, in which a “10” constituted a very positive response to the idea, whereas a 1 was highly negative, and a 5 was neutral.22 This constituted 'Question 1.' Interviewees were subsequently asked to explain their answers in 'Question 2.' Defying the predictions of phase-one interviewees, less than half of all respondents in this second phase of research (n=19, or 42%) responded negatively to Question 1. The same number (n=19, or 42%) answered expressly positively, while seven (16%) chose to remain neutral, marking ‘5’ on the response scale. Respondents who answered positively gave a range of reasons for their choice. These included: a sense of diminishing available land; a need or desire to follow denser patterns of life now prevalent in more developed urban centres; a desire to be close to other people; a solution to the problem of crowding in houses; parking problems; and the freedom and privacy apartment blocks would grant young people who are unable to afford or procure land for a house of their own. Several interviewees also cited more general environmental and quality-of-life rationales, as with a 21-year old secular male, who answered ‘10’ to Question 1: 22 We recognize that while ‘5’ is an arbitrary mid-point, when we asked participants to further explain their rationales for their answers to Question 1, those who said ‘5’ were consistently neutral-to-positive on the question of higher-density housing, and thus were largely using this number as a stand-in for an expression of neutrality. Those who answered ‘4’ or below, however, articulated distinctly negative views towards high-density housing in their villages, while the inverse was true for those who answered ‘6’ and above. In future iterations of research into this question, a more robust neutrality measure should ideally be developed and included in the interview protocol, and/or interpolated during later analysis. 81 [Apartment blocks would lead to] a concentration of the population. [This means there would be] more space to make parks, to do something other than just build houses, to do something for the community, so kids don’t have to play in the streets. [Now,] they don’t have parks, they don’t have football fields… they just go [run around] in the street.23 Those who provided scores of less than 5, that is a negative response to the prospect of densification, also provided a mix of rationales for their choices. These included: an expressed preference for cultural conservatism, tradition, or avoiding change; concerns about privacy; concerns about the cost of living alone (i.e., at least one interviewee intuitively conflated the idea of living in an apartment to living alone without a family); concerns about the difficulty of getting along with unrelated neighbours; a belief that quality of life in apartments is generally lower than in houses; the difficulty of rapid change; noise; a fear such buildings would destroy people’s visual enjoyment of nature; and, ‘religious reasons,’ which respondents abstained from defining.24 Those who provided a neutral answer of ‘5’ on the response scale generally concluded that villagers were ‘not yet ready’ for apartment buildings, or that local culture could not accommodate such living arrangements. Amongst this group, however, four of seven (57%) 23 When we asked this respondent whether he thought other locals would agree with him, he said: "I’m not sure. If it’s [shown to be] about the safety of their children, they’ll agree. [Otherwise, though,] maybe they’d disagree." 24 This might be partially tied to discomfort among religious males with having one’s female relatives share common space with non-familial males (e.g., in elevators and stairways). 82 went on to explain that they themselves did, in fact, view the prospect of higher density housing positively, calling it 'helpful,' or ‘necessary in the future.’ Further unstructured discussion with locals during periods of fieldwork indicated that any change in Druze housing patterns would indeed require overcoming a largely unspoken, but significant, social hurdle. Namely, if a Druze’s engaged or newly-married adult child was to move into an apartment block, rather than a stand-alone home on privately owned land, this would suggest the groom’s family was poor or otherwise unable to provide properly for their offspring. Such signaling could result in social stigma, due to the fact that ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel are still small enough to preclude any significant degree of social anonymity. Such fears of being stigmatized help explain the comments of some respondents who answered negatively to Question 1. For example, a secular mother of two in her 40s explained her negative rating of ‘3’ as follows, in which she also conflated apartment living with the stigma of single living: It [apartments in ‘Isfiyya] has never happened before. Nobody wants to live alone. [I] wouldn’t want it for my kids. A small number of respondents also initially resisted answering the question, as framed, out of protest. The overriding concern in such cases was that the Israeli state authorities were constraining the Druze’s options by disallowing them building permits and access to their own land in general, hence rendering any discussion of apartment construction ‘beside the point’. Associated with this concern was what appeared to be an a priori assumption that any high-density housing developments in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel could only be a product of state 83 policy, or of enterprising Jewish developers, not Druze themselves (such as in neighbouring urban Haifa, local Druze’s closest point of reference). As one respondent, a secular father in his 40s, explained: [Apartments would be fine] if the government builds on its own land. But give us back our land first! If we had access, there would be no problem [in the first place]. Other respondents were somewhat more open to the idea of apartment blocks in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel, but were quick to point out that such buildings should be owned locally, not by outsiders or the government. As a secular female in her 20s explained: In the beginning, [locals] will find [apartment buildings] strange, but then they’ll get used it. But—they shouldn’t be owned by outsiders. A crucial point is that a significant majority (70%) of the specifically religious respondents we interviewed rated the prospect of denser housing options in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel negatively. Twenty percent of religious respondents were neutral on the issue and only 10% were in favour. The fact that neutral-to-positive ratings were comparatively rare amongst religious respondents suggests there is a robust religious-secular divide within the community regarding housing preferences. While there are no official figures, no more than one third of the Druze community on Mt. Carmel is popularly estimated to be religious. However, the deep symbolic significance of religion and religious affiliation to Druze identity, including secular Druze, may constitute another unspoken hurdle to adopting denser housing options. Namely, the sizable 84 pro-apartment segment of the population may fear they would be subjecting themselves to a risk of alienation or demonization if they were to flout the sensibilities of their more pious fellow community members. We elaborate on this in greater detail below.25 Taken as a whole, these initial findings indicate that, as of 2012, there was, in fact, a wide range of opinion amongst the local community regarding the prospect of high-density housing in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel. Nonetheless, at the time of writing, there appeared to be virtually no public context in which the full range of opinion on this issue was being expressed. 3.7 A case of mistaken preferences Strikingly, in addition to the diversity of opinion noted above, our results suggest that, at the time of our field work in 2011-2012, most ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel residents were indeed fundamentally underestimating the wider community’s openness to high-density housing options. While 19 out of 45 respondents (42%) gave a positive answer to Question 1, and a further 7 (16%) gave a neutral answer (58% in total), 31 out of 45 respondents (69%) speculated that ‘most’ or ‘all’ other Druze residents would view the prospect of apartment buildings in their towns entirely negatively. 25 Lastly, a number of respondents speculated that young people would favour denser housing options, but that older generations would largely disapprove. This hypothesis was not borne out by our data. Rather, of the 19 respondents who expressed a positive preference for denser housing options, approximately half were in their 40s or older, including one respondent in his 70s. Conversely, of those who expressed a negative view of denser housing options, 8 of 19 (42%) were in their early 40s or younger. While age may be a factor, it did not emerge as a particularly telling one within our sample. 85 In other words, while a significant majority (58%) of respondents viewed the prospect of denser housing options either favourably or indifferently, a significant majority (69%) of respondents in fact predicted that either the inverse would be true (i.e., the vast majority would be against it) or, even more dramatically, that no Druze at all would respond favourably to the idea. We later discuss some explanations for how this apparent misperception could be so prevalent. 3.8 Biosphere skepticism Our interviews also addressed Druze awareness of the Mt. Carmel Biosphere Reserve itself. Specifically, the survey closed with the following question: “Did you know that ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel are located inside a Biosphere Reserve, which is an area specifically designated by the United Nations for balancing human well-being with the conservation of nature?”. Of 45 respondents, only five (11%) had ever heard that their towns were located within a United Nations-designated protected area. No one had a clear idea of what the designation meant, as a spatial area with three distinct zones for varying degrees of emphasis on biological conservation and human development (UNESCO-MAB 2008). When the concept was explained to survey participants, reactions were mixed. Some were interested in the idea, and expressed approval that their local region had been recognized as unique by the United Nations. Upon learning of the designation, at least one respondent expressed a desire to see more evidence of the United Nations’ involvement and presence, which he viewed as positive. However, others were less amenable to the idea, apparently due 86 to a deep distrust of Israeli state motives, rather than any strong opinions or set of associations about the United Nations, specifically. For example, one respondent suggested a theory that the reason no one seems to have heard of the Biosphere Reserve in the area is that the Israeli government is trying to hide it for some, likely sinister, reason. Inversely, others posited that the designation could be a mechanism for the Israeli government to further disenfranchise the Druze from their lawful property. As one such respondent, a religious man in his late 60s, exclaimed: We [protect and have] protected this land [for centuries], not the United Nations! Maybe Israel brought this [Biosphere Reserve designation] to prevent us from building homes. This particular interpretation of the Biosphere Reserve designation on the part of some Druze locals follows directly from a core proposition apparently shared by many in the community, given that we regularly encountered it during our extended period of ethnographic observation in the area. Namely, this proposition is that the Israeli government by the very nature of its self-declared Zionist ideology inherently prioritizes Jewish welfare over that of all other, non-Jewish citizens, including the Druze. However, there is a deep irony here. This is the precise opposite of how the government officials whom we interviewed claimed to understand the purpose of the Biosphere Reserve. The officials we interviewed described the 1996 designation of Mt. Carmel as a Biosphere Reserve as a compromise aimed specifically at opening up the possibility of more diverse land-87 use options for local stakeholders, and particularly the Druze, in what is otherwise a legally protected conservation zone. If both groups’ accounts are taken at face value, such starkly divergent interpretations of the meaning and purpose of the Biosphere Reserve designation on Mt. Carmel suggest a second fundamental social cognition problem at play: an apparent misreading of other stakeholders’ motivations, fueled not only by Israeli state employees’ essentializing of the Druze as culturally stagnant and monolithically ‘traditional,’ but, also by the Druze’s essentializing of the state authorities as monolithically nefarious in intent. The reasons this latter essentialism has taken hold, be they historical, political or otherwise, will likely need to be addressed directly. Ideally this would occur with public outreach, symbolic apology and trust-building measures (Atran and Axelrod 2008), in order for multistakeholder dialogue on the future of the MCBR to succeed. 3.9 Discussion: essentialisms, social cognition, and silence 3.9.1 Essentialisms are easy A particularly salient result from our interviews is the apparent gap in social cognition, defined here as one’s state of knowledge about others’ beliefs. This gap exists both between (a) relevant government officials and Druze locals; and (b) within the Druze community itself. The former gap is the less mysterious of the two. The most straightforward explanation is an apparent lack of trust between many Druze and relevant state authorities. This lack of trust, and hence relatively limited positive mutual interaction, precludes members of both groups 88 from creating anything beyond essentializing, homogenizing narratives about the others’ characteristics and intentions (e.g., ‘The Druze are [all (too)] traditional,’ ‘The Druze don’t respect nature,’ or ‘The Israeli government only wants to take our [Druze] land and give it to Jews’). From a cognitive perspective, it is not surprising that crafting and drawing on such essentialisms is common. Social scientists who study cognition suggest, rather, that such ‘essentialist’26 thinking should be expected as the default. Consequently, only prolonged positive social interaction that facilitates an understanding of others’ core values, or the ability to render cross-group agreement or homogeneity visible will counter the power of broad-brush characterizations. It takes time and energy to revise these (Medin, Ross, et al. 2007, Schaller, Conway and Tanchuk 2002, Haslam, Rothschild and Erns 2000). This is because essentialisms, which, at their core, consist of homogenizing propositions and simplifying narratives, are exactly that: homogenizing and simple, and therefore relatively effortless. Creating more complex, nuanced or heterogeneous mental models of others’ characteristics and intentions is, conversely, energy-intensive and, in the absence of sufficient observed evidence that demands such a model, requires awkwardly involved, time- and energy-costly introspection.27 26 ‘Essentialist,’ here, means using stereotyped, monolithic simplifications as analogical representations to stand in, cognitively, for an entire group that is in fact heterogenous in consequential ways. In cognitive science, this is considered a form of ‘attribute substitution’ error (e.g., Kahneman 2003). 27 E.g., “I may feel negatively about what seems like the Druze’s disregard for nature writ-large, but could it be the case that my simplifying intuition is wrong, that my mind is merely trying to save itself time and energy, and that not all Druze, maybe not even a majority, share identical values or engage in the same behaviour? Might my impulse to characterize all Druze as ‘religious’ or ‘traditional’ be rooted in the fact that my limited interaction with them has only made me cognizant of the most egregious, visible examples of what looks to me like Druze cultural intransigence?” 89 3.9.2 The salient moustache trumps the silent majority A lack of familiarity with the out-group does not explain, however, why many Druze themselves also seem to be poor forecasters of fellow Druze’s positions on the prospect of high-density housing in their towns. How could it be that a reasonably diverse, representative sample of individuals from such a relatively small, tight-knit, endogamous community could so readily mispredict the responses of their fellow community members? Figure 3.1 Appearance of religious Druze versus secular Druze A religious Druze man (left) is dressed in traditional attire with an intentionally large moustache, both symbols of having taken religious vows and having been initiated as a student of the esoteric Druze faith. Non-initiates (right), who comprise the majority of the population of ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel, do not dress this way, but rather according to current popular fashion. Because religious Druze are more visually salient in their unique appearance, they are more cognitively accessible as symbolic representatives of the Druze community, both for non-Druze and, our findings suggest, the Druze themselves. We argue that, all else held equal, this 90 heightened cognitive accessibility leads people to overgeneralize the assumed preferences of the religious minority to the community as a whole. (Photo, left,, courtesy of Charles Roffey.) We argue that, in the case of Mt. Carmel specifically, this quirk is at least partially accounted for by a number of straightforward qualities of cognition. First, as described above, religious and secular populations in the Druze community are very distinct. Data from our second phase of interviews suggests that religious Druze residents are, on the whole, more negative in their views regarding high-density housing than are their secular neighbours. While religious Druze comprise, by the most generous local estimates, only approximately 30% of the local population (there are no official statistics), they are more visually noticeable than the secular majority. Here, we are referring to the religiously observant Druze’s distinct, spiritually symbolic dress, including loose black clothing, white headgear, and in the case of men, uniquely prominent moustaches that are groomed in a specific way as identity markers. Second, because of their visual and confessional distinctiveness from mainstream Israeli and more globalized cultural expressions, as well as their preservation of the culturally emblematic Druze tradition, we argue that religious Druze, as a mental category widely operationalized within the Druze community, are more tightly associated with local Druze identity than are their secular neighbours. This appears to be so in both Druze and non-Druze’s minds alike. These two factors alone (visual uniqueness and close association with the prototype of the mental category ‘Druze’) are enough to make the minority, religious segment of the local Druze population more cognitively salient, and hence more readily cognitively accessible, for all 91 people, than the less emblematic, but significantly more populous, secular majority. From the point of view of cognitive research this ‘salience’ (Biggs and Gibson 2014, Bodoff 2013) causes individual interviewees and survey respondents to overestimate the representativeness (Kahneman and Frederick 2002) of the overtly religious subpopulation. Community members thus falsely extrapolate that, since religious Druze would imaginably be averse to sharing a building with other families for religious and traditional reasons (a relatively—i.e., 70%—accurate prediction, according to our data), it is faster, simpler, and even safer, to assume that the same is true of the Druze community as a whole. Phrased differently, given that religious Druze appear to be intuitively perceived by locals and non-locals alike as especially emblematic of the Druze community, religious Druze are liable to serve as a sort of heuristic, cognitive placeholder in respondents’ minds for the entire community. Respondents are therefore liable to overgeneralize the characteristics, beliefs, and preferences of the religious minority to the entire local Druze population, even if the wider population in fact has quite different beliefs (Kahneman and Frederick 2002). Similarly, these differences in salience and accessibility of the hyper-distinctive religious Druze, relative to their more populous secular counterparts, provide further explanation for why Israeli government authorities would, like the Druze, be liable to overgeneralize the (fairly accurately) imagined views of religious Druze to the entire Druze population on Mt. Carmel. 92 3.9.3 The spiral of silence In addition to the innate inclination to overgeneralize from the hyper-salient, and hence more cognitively accessible religious minority, there is the simple fact that people, generally, have been found to make inferences based primarily on what is most immediately apparent to them. This is referred to as the ‘availability heuristic’ (Tversky and Kahneman 1973). In this particular case, the fact that the urban landscape of ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel is entirely dominated by single-family homes—in contrast to the apartment blocks of surrounding towns and cities—likely encourages an ‘availability cascade’ (Kuran and Sunstein 1999) of self-reinforcing assumptions: “if all I can see are single family homes, everyone here must only ever want single-family homes.” The fact that this assumed reality has not yet been publicly challenged in the Druze community likely stems from a form of “pluralistic ignorance” (Prentice and Miller 1996), caused by what political scientist Noelle-Neumann (1993) dubbed the “spiral of silence.” 93 Figure 3.2 Appearance of Druze villages versus urban Haifa The semi-rural ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel skyline (top) features an expanse consisting entirely of single-family villas arranged in an ‘unplanned’ manner on the hillside. This is contrasted with the nearby urban Haifa skyline (bottom), consisting of a high density patchwork of multi-family condominiums, government-planned apartment towers, and industrial zones. Cognitive studies (Kuran and Sunstein 1999) suggest that, because locals and state employees see only the former, and not the latter, forms of housing in ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel, they may well over-infer post-facto that no Druze residents are interested in the prospect of higher-density, planned apartments, in their towns. 94 The ‘spiral of silence’ is a phenomenon also relevant here and occurs as follows. First, individuals arrive at an opinion, which they have not heard popularly voiced in their community (e.g., support for high-density multi-family dwellings). Because they have not heard the opinion voiced publicly, they assume themselves to be in the minority, and thus remain silent out of fear of ostracism. This silence in turn further limits the likelihood that a like-minded thinker will hear their shared opinion reflected in public discourse, and so on. Ultimately, a more vocal, but often fringe, opinion fills that void and becomes the dominant voice, even if it represents a minority position (Dalisay, et al. 2012). In the case of Mt. Carmel, what many locals imagine as their own minority view (which our research suggests is in fact the majority view) is an openness to high-density housing, while the equivalent of the more vocal, but actually much less popular, opinion appears to be the disapproving traditionalist perspective on high-density housing espoused most often by religious Druze, specifically. 3.9.4 Stacked odds further bias social cognition Based on observations collected over the course of fieldwork in the Mt. Carmel area, several other factors combine to further amplify the gap between perception and apparent reality described above. First, at the time of our fieldwork, a relative lack of non-hierarchical public space existed in ‘Isfiyya-Daliat al-Karmel. No readily accessible public context existed within which vociferous debate about community development could take place with relatively low social risk. Local press exists, but it does not often feature editorials that question (what people assume to be) deeply held community values. 95 Second, many interviewees lamented a high degree of ‘clan-consciousness’ in their community. By this, interviewees meant that many residents, the prominent decision-makers amongst them in particular,29 see local development less as a mutually advantageous activity for the whole community, and more as a zero-sum competition amongst extended families for resources and status. To the degree that this public perception of the community’s political logic is accurate, such a dynamic would, indeed, provide a disincentive for risky or long-term policy making that prioritizes public good over individual family benefit. (I.e., this means there would be relatively little personal incentive for decision-makers to attempt conserving land and reducing housing costs by embarking on a risky, divisive, apartment-construction venture, while they could just as well use their relative power to purchase more land for their familial support-base, and build conspicuous private villas to assert status.) Third, as mentioned earlier and as linked to the ‘spiral of silence’ effect described above, several interviewees asserted that there is an unspoken social stigma associated with being unable to provide a single-family home for one’s adult male children and their future families. Interviewees implied that the fear of such a stigma additionally precludes locals’ willingness to take the social risk associated with even discussing other options (i.e., apartment dwelling) with fellow townspeople. 29 The Druze communities of Mt. Carmel have two different, parallel governance structures in place. One is a secular, elected local municipal leadership, with fixed terms of office. It is this group to which we refer here, specifically. There is also, simultaneously, a traditional leadership structure wherein mostly religious elders congregate to make consultative decisions for and about the wider community. Due to the secretive nature of Druze religion and custom, we are unable to detail, here, the specifics of how these leaders are chosen, or precisely what powers, formal or informal, they exert over or within their communities. 96 Finally, and again tied to the ‘spiral of silence’, we posit that there may be a further stigma associated with making statements or suggesting changes that could be perceived as specifically calling into question tenets of local Druze identity, or inciting the ire of powerful or respected spiritual leaders who are assumed to hold more socially conservative views. As such, ideas that promote unfamiliar changes remain largely unarticulated, causing those who share similar sentiments to underestimate the degree to which others in the community may agree with them. 3.10 Conclusion: cognition, affect and new avenues for research A mutually acceptable pattern of sustainable development has thus far been elusive on the multistakeholder landscape of southern Mt. Carmel. Our initial round of interview-based research suggested that locals and managers alike perceived this to be a problem largely of entrenched local tradition, tied to what was also perceived to be a stagnant, ossified religion and culture. Local Druze also appeared to attribute cynical or outright nefarious motives to the Israeli authorities, precluding the sort of trust necessary for agreeing upon mutually acceptable development plans (Slovic 1999). Our second round of field research confirmed that both these opinions (i.e., that Druze culture is stagnant, and that state authorities are entirely disingenuous) were in fact quite common amongst local Druze residents. However, it also revealed a simple but surprising fact: most local Druze appeared to be mildly to strongly supportive of high-density housing as a sustainable development solution in their towns. Crucially, however, as we have described 97 above, most Druze also appeared to believe that most other Druze would disagree with them on the issue. This is a variety of what has been called “pluralistic ignorance,” and, more specifically, the “spiral of silence”: a phenomenon whereby most people hold one view, but incorrectly assume most others reject it, because it goes largely or entirely unspoken in the public sphere (Noelle-Neumann 1993, Dalisay, et al. 2012). In the case of religious Druze respondents, the opposite, but just as well-documented, cognitive phenomenon appeared to be at work. This phenomenon is known as the ‘false consensus effect,’ whereby people who hold what they perceive to be a strong majority position on an issue dramatically overestimate its popularity (Wojcieszak and Price 2009). Thus, in answer to our original question regarding the accuracy of our in-depth interviewees’ theories, our research does indeed suggest that the social dynamics of the MCBR are characterized by persistent, but apparently inaccurate, essentialist tropes about both the Druze, and the Israeli state authorities. Nonetheless, the fact that these essentialisms may be largely (if not entirely) the product of a series of simple, already well-studied cognitive biases, in turn suggests that it may be less challenging to arrive at a workable new status quo than any of the relevant stakeholders has, to this point, assumed. We felt that documenting and publicizing data that alerted the relevant parties to information otherwise obscured by the heuristics upon which they were relying was a potentially useful preliminary step towards crafting a space for new lines of thinking and negotiation. As such, we presented our findings both to local residents in the form of short pamphlets in Arabic and Hebrew, and to a group of relevant managers at a regional conference 98 on forest fire. As of this paper’s publication, we will also have delivered our findings directly to decision makers amongst the relevant Israeli authorities in the region. We believe the sort of basic efforts we made at testing and deconstructing the pervasive essentialisms, and other simplifying cognitive heuristics, dominating the social landscape of Mt. Carmel constitute just one small example of the synergistic overlaps amongst the emerging field of culture-and-cognition30 and the field of sustainable development. With respect to future research, cognitive science suggests (Slovic, Finucane, et al. 2004, Haidt 2001) that people’s rational faculties are in fact expert at constructing rationales for fundamentally emotional, or ‘affective,’ preconceptions that exist a priori in people’s minds. Applied to the current case, for example, this suggests that many Druze’s beliefs about the Israeli authorities’ supposed malicious intentions vis à vis Mt. Carmel’s Biosphere Reserve status may be rooted less in considerations of local social-ecological dynamics, and more in an affective association of distrust with respect to the state. These are understandably rooted in emotionally salient past experience, which drives some Druze to create mental models consistent with this emotional appraisal. The implication in such a case is that effective co-management will likely require going beyond addressing factual inconsistencies in stakeholders’ mental models, and instead require openly examining the affective associations Druze may have with relevant Israeli authorities, the roots thereof, and vice versa. 30 This field includes integrated insights from disciplines such as cognitive and applied anthropology, behavioural and experimental economics, and social, cultural and cognitive psychology, alike. 99 Cognitive approaches to human behaviour of the kind considered here suggest that addressing this deeper, emotionally-valenced quality of multistakeholder relations is a fruitful option. It may be more methodologically challenging than conducting factual surveys, or suggesting technical solutions to specific problems, but it may ultimately prove to be a more effective approach to ensuring long-lasting positive change (Atran and Axelrod 2008). Simultaneously, the practical application of anthropology to the study of sustainable development stands to progress both by drawing more readily from the cognitive science literature on a broad level, by explicitly investigating how actors tend to reduce complexity in situ, as well as by specifically developing and experimenting with different methods for eliciting, articulating and addressing actors’ ‘affective’ appraisals of contextually relevant actors.100 Chapter 4: The Silence of the Goats—cognitive management of complexity and Israel’s 2010 Carmel disaster 4.1 Introduction There is a popular aphorism that history is written by the winners. When a catastrophe occurs, however, often there appear to be only losers, and bigger losers. Powerful actors are wont to distance themselves from responsibility in such cases, not claim it triumphantly for themselves. How is a dominant narrative woven under these conditions? What role does an unchallenged narrative itself have in catastrophe? The answers to these questions have important implications for the recovery, adaptive capacity and resilience of communities in the wake of disaster. As such, this constitutes a critical space of potential collaboration between humanities and social science research, on one hand, and the heretofore largely ecology- and institutions-focused study of social-ecological systems on the other (Folke 2006, Folke, Carpenter, et al. 2002, Ostrom 2009). In this paper, we make an initial contribution to this emergent collaborative space. We do so through a multi-method study of the history and discourse surrounding a catastrophic forest fire that occurred on Mount Carmel, in northern Israel, in December of 2010. This was the deadliest fire in Israel’s history, inextricably intertwined in public consciousness with the tumultuous and often traumatic history of Jews’ and Arabs’ respective use of afforestation and fire as tools of competing nationalistic claims since the era of the British Mandate in Palestine (El-Eini 2006). 101 We root our investigation in a theoretical foundation informed by empirical studies of human cognition, which suggest people are fundamentally motivated to manage the deep complexity of their environments by massively reducing that complexity in efficient ways in their minds (see Chapter 2). This internal ‘reduction’ of complexity is often essential to avoiding paralysis or self-defeat in the short run but, if left unchecked, can produce potentially disastrous figurative blind spots in the long run (Peterson and Flanders 2002). We apply this analytical lens to three different sources of material: mainstream Israeli online print media coverage of the so-called ‘Carmel disaster,’ in-depth interviews with government managers and local residents of the Mt. Carmel UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and, finally, historical accounts of how people have perceived and interacted with the landscape of Mt. Carmel through deep time. We begin with a fuller description of the fire itself, as well as some characterization of the social and ecological context of the disaster in question. We then follow this with a discussion of the theoretical advantages of considering this case through emerging theories of cognition and motivation, so as to better explain how and why particular narratives of cause have emerged at the expense of others. We then proceed to present, discuss and compare our findings from each of our three different sources. 4.2 The Carmel disaster On 2 December 2010, a massive forest fire ignited on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Carmel, in what is today northern Israel. The area is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, comprised of 102 a patchwork of national park, nature reserve and human settlement. Despite the area’s protected status, government authorities were ill prepared for a fire of this magnitude in the Carmel range, and ultimately required airborne firefighting support from the international community (Haaretz 2010). In the process of evacuating a military prison in the heart of the reserve, a bus full of prison guards became trapped in the flames, and 44 people died, making the ‘Carmel disaster,’ as it was soon dubbed in local media, the most deadly fire in Israel’s history (Oster 2010). The ecological damage was also significant: over 4,000 hectares (Waldoks 2010) of the 11,500-hectare Mt. Carmel National Park were consumed in the disaster, including parts of the Hai Bar Nature Reserve, home to recovering populations of threatened fauna such as the Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica) and griffon vulture (Gyps fulvus) (UNESCO 2012). As much as it was an ecological disaster, the fire was also a deeply political conflagration and socially-charged event. Popular criticism of government ill preparedness was scathing, and intense controversy ensued amidst calls for the resignation of key ministers (Hovel 2012). Moreover, from the earliest days of the disaster, speculation over the source of the fire intensified already extant ethnic tensions amongst the Hebrew-speaking Jewish majority and the Arabic-speaking Muslim, Christian and particularly Druze religious minorities who have continually inhabited the region for centuries. 103 4.3 Mt. Carmel as a chessboard of identity politics Mt. Carmel National Park was created in 1971 by the Hebrew-speaking, Jewish-majority Israeli state. Consisting today of vast tracts of pine forest and dry scrubland, the park sweeps up from the Mediterranean coastline right to the town limits of ‘Isfiyya and Daliat al-Karmel, two centuries-old mountaintop Arab villages. These villages are home to approximately 11,300 and 16,000 Druze residents respectively (ICBS 2012), as well as a small number of Arab Muslims and Christians. Druze are an Arabic-speaking religious minority in Israel. Like the secular Jewish majority, and unlike other Israeli Arabs (i.e., Arab Palestinians with officially recognized Israeli citizenship), Druze serve as conscripts in the Israeli army, a defining feature of ‘loyal’ citizenship in the modern Israeli state (Nissan 2010, Lis 2011). However, Druze are otherwise culturally and linguistically distinct from the Jewish majority, and the relationship between the Druze and the Jews has been a complex and ambivalent one since the beginning of Jewish immigration to Palestine near the turn of the 20th century (Parsons 2000). As we show in the following section, this perception of cultural and ethnic difference was central to how people made sense of the fire, as Arab citizens have indeed been charged in the past with attempting to start fires on Mt. Carmel as a form of ‘nationalistic’ arson31 (Frankenberg 2009). Moreover, the planting and subsequent burning of forests by Jews and Arabs respectively date back to as early as the 1920s as methods of demarcating, and refuting, who has ultimate ownership over land in what was then British-controlled Mandate Palestine, now Israel (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). 31I.e., as a form of protest against what is largely perceived as the Jewish-majority establishment’s mistreatment of Arabs both inside and outside Israel’s internationally recognized 1967 borders. 104 Unverified but popular rumours also exist within Jewish Israeli circles that Druze have sometimes set fire to the forest surrounding their villages as a semi-clandestine form of protest against unpopular state policies, such as the placement of cellphone antennas in their communities. The 2010 fire thus served as a reminder of the ambivalences and tensions between Arabs (including Druze) and Jews in Israel’s north. In the immediate wake of the disaster, this led some to speculate that the blaze was either an ‘act of terror’ (Ronen 2010), or alternatively the result of Mt. Carmel Druze abusing the surrounding forest, a ‘symptom’ of the supposed lack of aesthetic or ecological ‘sensitivity’ that is inherent in their ‘Arab culture’ (Ynet 2010, Boneh 2012). Prior to the 2010 Carmel disaster, tensions between the Druze of Mt. Carmel and the Jewish state authorities had already been rising due to conflict over land-use. Under Ottoman property law, which is largely recognized by the Israeli state, many Druze claim to have hereditary ownership over parcels of land in what is now Mt. Carmel National Park. However, many of these same Druze claim it is exceptionally difficult to get permits to do what they want with their land32 (see Chapter 3). The Israeli authorities, for their part, cite national park law, as well as the state’s conservation and forestry prerogatives, as reasons for withholding permits (Rosenberg 2011). Leading up to the 2010 disaster, the effect of this smoldering low-level conflict had been a cyclical dynamic of ‘illegal’ construction, fines, and increasing tension and bitterness between the Druze community and the state authorities. The designation of the area 32 This often involves plans for parents to build stand-alone homes for their sons’ families, as per centuries-old local custom, or, in the case of district-level petitions, requests for industrial development permits so as to create jobs and boost the local economy. 105 as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1996 was meant to provide a new framework for the resolution of this strain between development and conservation on the southern Carmel, writ large (Safriel 2012). However, for a variety of reasons—lack of community consultation and local political dynamics chief amongst them (Frankenberg 2009)—the Biosphere Reserve designation had, as of 2010, largely failed to catalyze that aim. The 2010 fire, and public contestation over its cause, thus further amplified this preexisting atmosphere of tension between Druze and the state. Within the first days of the fire, a series of accusations and arrests were made, targeting a number of Druze youth in particular who were blamed for starting the fire by negligently throwing smoldering water-pipe coals into the forest (Hovel 2011). Another theory held that illegal, makeshift Druze dumping grounds in the forest ignited, implying that the fire and its concomitant deaths were primarily the result of Druze disrespect for both nature and the rule of law (Edayat 2010). Nonetheless, despite this early outburst on the part of the Jewish establishment against local Druze, all Druze detainees were eventually released, and all charges against them were dropped due to lack of evidence (Hovel 2011). Once it became apparent that there was no clear evidence of Druze or other Arab culpability for the initial blaze, public discourse shifted almost entirely towards blaming the acting government for massive negligence, targeting several key political figures in particular. Early on in this processes, special blame was leveled at then-Minister of Interior, Eli Yishai. 106 Yishai, being of Sephardic33 (specifically Tunisian-Jewish) heritage, and a member of SHAS—a Jewish ultra-orthodox political party—in an Ashkenazi (European-Jewish) and largely secular parliament, claimed that he was being unfairly targeted for ethnic, anti-religious and political reasons (Ettinger 2010). It took over a year for the disaster to be fully investigated. Once it had, the State Comptroller singled out a number of other, high-ranking politicians, including Ashkenazis in addition to Sephardic (North African-Jewish) Yishai. Collectively, these individuals were implied to bear responsibility both for the blaze itself, and also for the concomitant deaths, which had, at that point, become conflated under the one semantic label ‘אסון הכרמל’ or ason ha-carmel (‘the Carmel disaster’) in the Israeli public lexicon. This blurred distinction between related events with nonetheless multiple distinct causes helped, in our opinion, both create, and reinforce, a detrimental oversimplification of the event in the public sphere. This was both driven, and compounded, by a conspicuous lack of any robust discussion in the media of the systemic, ecological and historical-ideological causes behind the collective disaster (see Section 4.5). Such a lack is regrettable, as it largely precluded the Israeli public, or the country’s political system itself, from drawing meaningful socially- or policy-relevant inferences. Rather, during the period in which we conducted our research (2011-2013), the Carmel disaster remained an arguably lost opportunity for the kind of well-informed experiential learning that sustainability 33 ‘Sephardic’ Israelis trace their lineage to emigrants from North Africa and the former Ottoman Empire (originally exiles from Spain, or ‘Sfarad’ in Hebrew), while ‘Ashkenazi’ Israelis trace their lineage to emigrants from central Europe (‘Ashkenaz’ in Hebrew). The latter have historically enjoyed relative political dominance in the Israeli state (Shadmi 2003), particularly within the first few decades of the country’s founding in 1948. 107 scholars have identified as core to building societal resilience in the face of largely unpredictable global change (Tschakert and Dietrich 2010). 4.4 The analytical value of a cognitive lens Given the paucity of perspective-shifting insights wrought from the treatment of the Carmel disaster in the public sphere, we demonstrate how a combined application of cognitive theory and a social-ecological systems approach can play a uniquely revealing role in interpreting the events leading up to and following the 2010 catastrophe. One, by looking at the particular ways the complexity of the multifaceted disaster was reduced by the Israeli media, and by key individuals, we will be able to glean insights about the specific cognitive blind-spots that are liable to hinder the Israeli public from learning adaptively from such a tragedy. Two, by examining historical sources through this lens, we will be able to both enrich our understanding of the disaster’s multiple causes (in contrast to what we demonstrate in Section 4.5 to be a reductionist, conflationary public narrative), as well as illuminate the ways in which previous actors’ specific forms of complexity reduction continue to affect Israeli society today. Analyzing and articulating the contextually specific repercussions of ubiquitous, generic cognitive tendencies (Peterson and Flanders 2002) in this way will both help us better understand the disaster itself, as well as identify how research rooted in empirically-supported theory—relatively unbeholden to the market pressures and political influences that affect many other forms of knowledge generation in society—can contribute to a richer, more effective adaptive learning process in the wake of unexpected calamity. 108 4.5 The Carmel disaster in public discourse: searching for a scapegoat We chose to investigate people’s understanding of the Mt. Carmel landscape and the events surrounding its 2010 ignition using three different sources of material. The first of these was online Israeli print media, which we selected as a window into Israeli public discourse. Using the Hebrew search term “אסון הכרמל” or ason ha-carmel (‘Carmel disaster’), as the fire and the subsequent loss of life was quickly dubbed by the media, we methodically searched the media archives of three of the most popular Israeli online news outlets for relevant articles: Ynet News, Nana10 News, and Ha’aretz. We analyzed articles from the period stretching from the outbreak of the fire in the first week of December 2010, to the release of a State Comptroller’s report on the fire in the third week of June 2012. In total, this numbered 193 articles. For each article, we counted all causes of the disaster either stated or clearly implied by the author, including those phrased in the affirmative (e.g., “The scale of the fire was a result of severe lack of government preparedness”) as well as in the negative (e.g., “The Druze youth arrested were later released due to lack of evidence”). This approach allowed us to track the variety of causal attributions made about the fire over time, as well as identify trends in which causes came to dominate the public discourse in subsequent months and years. For each article, we also qualitatively evaluated the degree to which the given author conflated multiple fire-related events and their respective causes. We chose to measure this for a specific reason. Early on in our analysis, it became clear that the initial blaze itself, and the subsequent deaths during the evacuation of the military prison, were being conceptually 109 combined and blurred in public discourse. This blurring appeared to be forging post-hoc narratives that pinpointed specific individuals as culpable for the entire sequence of events, with all the associated destruction and loss of life.34 4.5.1 Pointing the finger: “careless Druze,” “spiteful Arabs” and “bad Jews” Within the first month of the so-called Carmel disaster, there was an abundance of theories and attributions regarding its causes circulating in the public sphere. Over that four-week time period, the vast majority (89%) of popular attributions involved directly blaming either the national government (56% of all attributions), including specific government ministers, or Arab citizens (33% of all attributions), including and often specifically singling out Carmel Druze. (See Figure 4.2). An additional five percent of the causes mentioned across media sources during this period invoked a theory, espoused by some prominent religious leaders, that God was punishing the Jewish nation for irreligious behaviour (Nachshoni 2010). Only one environmental factor—unseasonably arid weather—was cited in any of the surveyed articles published during this period. Aridity accounted for a mere three percent of all those theories or 34 To measure this phenomenon, we converted our qualitative assessments of narrative conflation into quantitative rankings on a discrete numerical scale of 1 (representing no conflation of multiple events or causes), to 10 (complete conflation of multiple events and/or their respective causes). This portion of our analysis thus provided us with a basic measure of how severely complexity was being reduced in the public sphere at different times, and by different outlets. We should note that, for the purposes of our analysis, we excluded articles that contained extensive wording identical to other articles written by the same author or source. If such articles were to be included in the analysis, it would imaginably amplify the reported effects even further. 110 causes mentioned in our data within the first month of the disaster, while merely two percent addressed the possibility of firefighting errors. In contrast to this absence of environmental focus or emergency response, one of the most oft-cited theories was ‘negligence amongst government officials,’ accounting for 29% of the theories put forth in those articles that discussed public sector culpability. In close second (22%), was the assertion that the disaster was caused, intentionally or otherwise, by young Druze males. Indeed, this theory of Druze criminal negligence was so immediately appealing to local state authorities that the Israeli police had soon arrested and temporarily incarcerated a series of local Druze boys and youths suspected of involvement. However, it eventually became clear that there was, in fact, no compelling evidence incriminating any of the detainees, and they were released. Months later, after significant protest from local Druze families, all charges were ultimately dropped (Hovel 2011). The next most-cited theory within the first month of the disaster was that the fire was caused intentionally by non-descript ‘Arab’ arsonists (12% of all theories proposed). Some proponents of this theory, including Member of Knesset35 Anastasia Michaeli, labeled it an act of terrorism, going so far as to claim it was tantamount to attempted genocide (Ronen 2010, Nana10 News 2010). This narrative clearly invoked the militaristic overtones and pervasive fear of existential threat so familiar to Israelis from decades of media reporting on the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict (Bar-Tal 2001). As Michaeli stated on the floor of the Knesset within the first week of the disaster: 35 The Knesset is the Israeli parliament. 111 What I saw in the Carmel today wasn’t just any fire—I saw a war. People are losing their homes, parts of the land were completely destroyed, animals running to save their lives, and 41 people were killed. All of these sights are part of war. The arsonists should sit in jail for the rest of their lives and lose their privilege to [Israeli] citizenship (JPost 2010). Despite how fully this narrative of genocidal intent might have resonated with some sectors of the Israeli public, over time, it became clear there was no actual evidence for claims of Arab arson. Thus, this particular theory began to disappear from the print media, diminishing slowly, until reaching a period of virtually no mention of it in our sources from November of 2011 to June of 2012. Nonetheless, beliefs that Druze or other Arabs were in some way culpable for some or all of the disaster appeared to persist in the minds of many Israelis over time, sometimes surfacing months later in venues such as talkback radio, or as rumours we personally heard circulating amongst Jewish Israeli acquaintances.36 An additional 11% of theories cited in this period placed blame specifically on then-Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai. As described in Section 4.3, Yishai comes from the historically disenfranchised Sephardic community, and was serving at the time as a representative of the minority ultra-orthodox Jewish party, SHAS. The largely secular detractors of Yishai singled him out for spending too many of his office’s resources promoting the affairs and furthering the interests of his narrow religious constituency. Yishai neglected to spend enough time and 36 During our fieldwork, we encountered several instances of this first hand. 112 money, his critics argued, on maintaining or upgrading the sub-standard state of emergency services in the country, namely the fire brigades (Haaretz 2010). By January 2011, public discourse surrounding the causes of the disaster had clearly begun to shift. During the month of January, only two percent of all causes mentioned amongst our source material made reference to Druze youth. None made reference to the theories of Arab arson or attempted genocide that had been circulating in the immediate aftermath of the blaze. Rather, print media had shifted decisively to pinning blame on specific minsters. Approximately 29% of all causes mentioned made broad reference to the fact that particular ministers were to be held accountable for ‘the disaster’, writ large. On an individual level, Eli Yishai received the brunt of public scrutiny (26% of all causes mentioned referred to him). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also singled out, accounting for 12% of all causal attributions mentioned in our source material in the month of January. General government negligence was still a highly cited cause in its own right, accounting for an additional 26% of all causes mentioned. Theological arguments and recriminations of the previous Ariel Sharon-led government were also minimally cited, accounting collectively for two percent of all attributions mentioned. As public attention began to fix on more temporally urgent concerns, the period from February 2011 to June 2012 saw a marked drop in the number of articles dealing with the Carmel disaster and its repercussions. However, media attention once again returned to the Carmel in June 2012, as State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss began to release his findings on government accountability for the 2010 disaster. Once the disaster was back in the public 113 spotlight, a full 59% of all causal attributions mentioned in our source material for that month were directed at specific government ministers, either as a group (six percent) or, now much more explicitly, at single individuals themselves: Interior Minister Eli Yishai (16%), Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (14%), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (12%), and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (10%), all of whom were named in the so-called Lindenstrauss report as bearing ‘particular responsibility’ for the disaster (Zarchin 2012). (See Figure 4.2). General government negligence was, at this time, also still being cited regularly as a casual force behind the disaster (18% of all attributions mentioned during the month of June). However, after more than a year and a half had passed since the fire, more systemic factors such as a dysfunctional police response (seven percent of all attributions mentioned), as well as missteps on the part of firefighting officials (eight percent of all attributions mentioned), were now also finally being acknowledged. These patterns of reporting and causal attribution in the media reveal two main trends. One, the initial response of the public (as informed by and reflected through the mainstream print media) was to grope in a knee-jerk fashion for particular social groups and individuals that could believably be held directly culpable for all that went wrong. As evidenced in the freely accessible record of online print media, this search for a satisfyingly tangible scapegoat began virtually immediately, despite the considerable ecological, social37 and even climatic complexity of the event (Helmholtz UFZ 2010). 37 See the subsequent sections of this paper for a thorough discussion of the ecological and social factors elided by mainstream media treatment of the disaster. 114 This impulse to scapegoat is unsurprising from a social psychological perspective. Similar patterns of group reaction to emotionally distressing disasters have been documented and theorized for over six decades.38 Early accounts focused on the emotional impulses driving such group behaviour. These included the desire to resolve uncomfortable levels of fear and uncertainty in the wake of unpredicted collective trauma, emotions which are then cathartically released through direction of animosity at a coherent target (Veltfort and Lee 1943). Subsequent studies built on this theory of sublimation, reduction of uncertainty and catharsis. In particular, it was found that events without an easily understood naturalistic cause, such as a tornado or earthquake, led with even more certainty to scapegoating of individuals and opaquely defined groups with relative social power, such as ‘bigwigs,’ or ‘government’ writ large (Drabeck and Quarantelli 1967). Anthropologist Rene Girard developed an entire theory of society revolving around the group impulse to scapegoat, which he argues is a periodic virtual inevitability, whereby people reach an intolerable level of dissatisfaction with their relative lack of perceived success, and then channel said dissatisfaction at an easily accessible victim—a process ultimately ritualized and stylized by religion (Girard 1978). 38 One of the most noteworthy early studies of disaster scapegoating is Veltfort and Lee’s 1943 analysis of the popular response to the so-called ‘Cocoanut Grove’ fire in Boston, in which just under 500 people trapped in a burning night club died in a span of 20 minutes. Veltfort and Lee document how, rather than search for the systemic causes of the fire, public attention catapulted itself from one individual scapegoat to another, eventually exonerating the apologetic underage busboy responsible for the accidental first spark in place of a fixation on powerful city administrators and the owners of the club in question. Ironically given the context of this current paper, the nightclub owners were in fact Jewish, and the result was an anti-Semitic backlash. Veltfort and Lee conclude that the motivation towards this kind of scapegoating has its own internal emotional logic. Fear that such a horrific event could happen to innocent citizens was melded in the public’s mind with ‘tabloid thinking’ that was driven by an emotional desire to reduce the discomfort of not knowing all the details of what happened. Latent hostilities towards ‘political bigwigs’ and Jews were then given an ideal outlet in the form of the fire that broke out in a Jewish-owned nightclub that had been given permits to operate by local city politicians. 115 Each of these generally mutually consistent theories is additionally supported by more recent empirical and theoretical insights into human cognition. For instance, the ‘certainty effect’ is an empirically observed tendency for people to choose simple, emotionally satisfying accounts of events over more nuanced, less conclusive ones, presumably due to an aversion towards the emotional discomfort people associate with uncertainty (Keren and Gerritsen 1999). Additionally, the ‘defensive attribution effect‘ is a phenomenon whereby the more severe or traumatizing an accident appears, the more likely people are to assign concerted blame to an identified culprit, an effect that is magnified significantly to the degree that a given suspect is seen as ‘different from oneself’ (Burger 1981) (e.g., from another ethnic or socioeconomic group). Finally, on a more general level, it has been found that as humans, our indispensable human drive to reduce overwhelming complexity simultaneously prevents us from becoming paralyzed by excess information, yet also impedes us from crafting fully accurate accounts of complex phenomena (Peterson and Flanders 2002, Peterson 1999). Instead, we tend to settle for sufficiently believable accounts that are easily grasped and which allow us to maintain our stable self-image or social image (Gausel and Leach 2011), while avoiding the potential for endless negative affect that confrontations with uncertainty can produce (Peterson and Flanders 2002). Unfortunately, as first documented decades ago (Veltfort and Lee 1943, Drabeck and Quarantelli 1967), people’s predisposition to this kind of knee-jerk response to catastrophe can often hinder society’s ability to properly understand a disaster’s more probable or fundamental causes, thus detracting from a community’s ability to learn adaptively and successfully modify 116 institutions, regulatory protocols or even surrounding ecosystems to a more optimal degree. This is because people’s drive towards emotional ease and cognitive simplicity can affect both their understanding of causal mechanisms of events, but also their clarity on just how many independent—or non-independent—factors are in fact involved in those mechanisms. To this effect, a second main trend to emerge from our analysis was the degree to which public discourse conflated various aspects of the Carmel disaster as time progressed. (See Figure 4.1). Rather than develop an increasingly nuanced account of the particular causes and factors that constituted different elements of the tragedy (i.e., the initial blaze, the ineffective firefighting and police response, the subsequent deaths, etc.), our data reveal that the print media, as both a mirror and driver of public discourse, in fact did the precise opposite. Even as the specific roles of individual actors and state bodies gradually became clearer, the various components of the disaster were, in fact, increasingly conflated in the discourse over time (i.e., media articles used phrasing that increasingly blurred multiple causes, and made fewer clear distinctions amongst multiple causal factors, as time progressed). This was facilitated by the media’s early and repeated used of the semantic shorthand ‘אסון הכרמל’ / ‘the Carmel Disaster’ to refer collectively to the entire series of events. This single umbrella term simultaneously simplified the discussion for the public, and for time-pressured journalists, but it also irredeemably blurred reality, insofar as the disaster was in fact not one monolithic event, but rather consisted of a number of separate incidents with very different causes, each offering a different potential lesson to improve future resilience. 117 The end result is that public discourse was characterized almost entirely by a quest to determine who was to blame for ‘the disaster’ broadly conceived, not what was to blame for which particular elements thereof. As such, this sort of discourse precluded a meaningful discussion about key underlying, systemic causes. The Israeli state apparatus did little to remedy this lost opportunity for learning. Rather than pursue an in-depth expert analysis of both individual- and system-level causes of the disaster, the State Comptroller essentially mirrored the public by conducting an investigation focusing almost exclusively on who should be held accountable. This effort appears to have been modeled somewhat uncritically on previous state-commissioned reports conducted in the aftermath of specifically military failures (e.g., the 1973 war, the second Lebanon war) (Ynet 2008, Knesset 2008). Ironically, this serves as yet another example of how defaulting to easy, familiar patterns of complexity-reduction (i.e., treating ecological disasters like military disasters, as the template for the latter is more familiar than the former in the Israeli context) can in fact hinder a society’s ability to mine genuine insight from otherwise tragic catastrophe. 118 Figure 4.1 Increasing conflation of multiple fire-related events and their causes in Israeli online print-media Each point on this figure represents an article containing the Hebrew term ason ha-carmel (‘אסון הכרמל’), or “the Carmel disaster,” that was published online by any one of three mainstream Israeli Hebrew-language internet news sites: Ynet, Nana10 or Haaretz. We tallied all such articles over the period from the outbreak of the Carmel fire (3 December 2010), to the release of a State Comptroller’s report on the causes of the disaster, approximately 18 months later (20 June 2012). For each article, we rated the content on a qualitative scale of 1 to 10, where a rating of 1 was given for an article that did not conflate in any way the multiple fire-related events (i.e., the initial blaze, a bus tragedy in which 44 civil servants died trying to escape the flames, or the subsequent missteps in the state response), while a rating of 10 was given for an article in which all related events and their suspected causes were conflated 0123456789108/10/10 11/18/10 2/26/11 6/6/11 9/14/11 12/23/11 4/1/12 7/10/12 10/18/12Degree of conflation of discerete events and causal factors in articles relating to Carmel disasterTime (mm-dd-yy) Least-square trendline119 together as one single tragedy. As highlighted by the least-square trendline crossing the graph, the average degree of conflation in fact rose over time, from 4.3 within the first month of fire, to 8.7 during the month the Comptroller’s report was released. This demonstrates how, in the absence of a proactively nuanced narrative proffered by the state, and in combination with the pressures of a fast-paced, for-profit media environment, public discourse is liable to lead over time towards simplified, conflated understandings of complex events, not the inverse. This has implications both for social-ecological systems theory—which has yet to integrate the reality of such pressures into its dominant analytical frameworks for resilience (e.g., Ostrom 2009)—and for the study of how dominant narrative is forged. 120 Figure 4.2 Causal attributions of the events surrounding the 2010 fire in the online Israeli print media over time This figure shows the change over time in the relative frequency of the most oft-cited causal attributions for the 2010 fire and its concomitant deaths in the Hebrew-language print media. Source material is from all articles that contained the Hebrew term ason ha-carmel (‘הכרמל אסון’), or “the Carmel disaster,” that were published by three mainstream Hebrew-language online Israeli print media outlets (Ynet, Nana10 and Haaretz) in the months of December 2010, January 2011 and—after a lull in media attention owing to other events—again in June 2012, upon release of the State Comptroller’s report on the disaster. Note how in December, at the outset of the disaster, the largest proportion of attributions mentioned in the online print media Dec-10 Jan-11 Jun-12Arabs (total incl. Druze) 33 2 2Individual ministers (sum) 21 67 59Government negligence 29 26 18Entire government (general) 5 0 1Arid conditions 3 0 3God's wrath 5 2 0Firefighting officials 1 0 7Police dysfunction 0 0 8010203040506070~% of total attributions mentioned in the online print media121 consisted of recriminations of Arabs in particular (including Druze). Once it became clear there was no actual evidence of Arab involvement, however, attention shifted largely to individual government ministers. Only after considerable time had passed, and the State Comptroller began to release findings from his report on the disaster, did some attention begin to shift towards missteps taken by the firefighting and police forces. Individual minsters, however still received a sizable majority of recriminations. Crucially, only one ecological factor was mentioned with any frequency (arid weather), and even it was only cited very rarely. Not a single historical factor, nor critique of forest management ideology, was mentioned with any frequency. Collectively, this contrasts starkly with the findings both from our in-depth interviews (see Section 4.6) and from our analysis of historical materials (see Section 4.7). We discuss some implications of this for theory in Section 4.8. 4.6 Local actors’ causal narratives of the 2010 disaster 4.6.1 Israel Nature and Parks Authority: “too much ‘man,’ unwelcome pines, and disappearing goats” In addition to using media analysis to gain insight into the modes and effects of complexity reduction in the public sphere (see Section 4.5), we also wished to gain a deeper understanding of the specific ways in which various influential actors on the Mt. Carmel landscape tended to reduce the complexity of the environment, and make sense of the traumatic disarray (Peterson 1999) unleashed by the fire. To do this, we interviewed key informants from three different stakeholder groups in the Mt. Carmel social-ecological system. 122 The first of these were select managers and administrators in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (NPA), which is the government branch responsible for management of the Mt. Carmel National Park and its adjacent nature reserves. For their part, the NPA officials we interviewed described the recent 2010 fire as a purely anthropogenic harm to the local ecosystem. As managers with virtually no authority to affect human behaviour outside of the park boundaries, NPA interviewees implied that they as individuals, and as an organization, were thus effectively powerless to prevent the disaster. Bolstering this narrative of relative incapacity, NPA officials assured us that, unlike much of Western Europe and North America, fires in Israel are ‘entirely man-made.’ They specifically implied that any catastrophic event such as the Carmel disaster must therefore be, a priori, the result of excessive human interference in the otherwise stable ‘natural’ ecosystem. The fact that modern humans have been present in the Carmel region, shaping and evolving alongside the ecosystem, for well over 200,000 years (Valladas, et al. 2013), is a confounding factor that NPA officials seemed clearly aware of as trained scientists, but which (during interviews) they openly found cumbersome. That is, any effort to fully incorporate long-standing human presence into the logic of their frankly stated biocentric39 narrative was conceptually awkward, 39 The Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy defines ‘biocentrism’ as: “…a life-centered outlook that rejects the view that humanity alone matters in ethics and accepts the moral standing of (at least) all living creatures. It has played a formative role in the development of environmental ethics since the study of this subject became a self-conscious discipline in the 1970s; it was also influential among some key earlier thinkers, including Albert Schweitzer (with his belief in “reverence for life”) and Mohandas Gandhi… Not all biocentrists condemn all destruction of life, however, although they all regard the good of living creatures as a morally relevant element in decisions affecting their treatment” (Attfield 2009, 97). 123 a fact in no way lost on the interviewees themselves. As one NPA official (O, for official) explained to one of us (R, for researcher): O: There are no natural fires here in Israel. R: And there never were? O: No, no. You get natural fires where you get summer storms, there are no summer storms in Israel. O: Hmm, so, [the implication is that] the ecology itself isn’t [at all] adapted to regular fires, to summer fires? O: [pauses] … Well … the thing is, all the fires here are man-made … and you have man here for 10,000 [sic] years, so… it’s difficult to say… R: [nods in understanding] O: … [Regardless,] even in the areas that you do have natural fires, like Spain for example, over there like 95% of fires are [still] man-made. In terms of how they accounted for the cause of the fire itself, the NPA officials we interviewed expressed a belief, at the time, that the fire was likely ignited accidentally by Druze youth smoking in the forest. However, this proximate cause seemed relatively unimportant to our NPA interviewees, who appeared to view the reality of Mt. Carmel’s flammability in more biophysical terms. Specifically, our NPA interviewees appeared to reduce the complexity of the 2010 catastrophe down to one key issue: that the Mt. Carmel region today is inherently flammable because of its high density of the western variety of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis). As described by historical sources (see Section 4.7), this tree is not ‘native’ to the region, but rather was first introduced either by late 19th century German colonists, or by British occupation forces in the early 20th century (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). It was subsequently 124 actively planted by the Jewish National Fund (see Section 4.6.2) for political, nationalistic purposes.40 For NPA officials, the current pine-dense regime is therefore entirely anthropogenic in origin, inherently ‘unnatural,’ and thus, in the context of their professional, and individual, biocentric worldviews, laden with negative normative associations (Rosenberg 2011, see below). Complicating matters, there is what is locally regarded as an eastern variety of Aleppo pine (called oren yerushalmi, or ‘Jerusalem pine,’ in Hebrew) that is indeed native to the area, but which over the past century has been outcompeted by the more populous nonnative western variety. This is a process NPA interviewees said may increase in the aftermath of the latest fire, which they argued will likely see an increased germination of the opportunistic, fast-growing western variety of Aleppo pine in its wake. One NPA interviewee explained his stance on pines in the Carmel as follows, once again reflecting the challenge of integrating humans’ ancient and continuous presence in the ecosystem into the NPA’s biocentric narrative (italics signal the interviewee’s spoken emphasis): Well… [Jerusalem pine, the eastern variety of Aleppo pine] is the natural one, so obviously we want to keep it. And you know, when you get cross [breeding] you lose it. … [The big specimens] probably died [in the fire], most of them. So it’ll be a lot of work [preserving that population] ... [Yet], you know in an area like Israel you have agriculture for like 7,000, 10,000 years, [so] it’s very difficult to say what’s natural and what you want to protect. … It’s easier to say what you don’t want … and we don’t want foreign 40 We treat this process in more detail in our discussion of the historical source material in Section 4.7. 125 species… and [western Aleppo pine is] definitely [a] foreign species [sic], so we don’t want them in our ecosystem. Here the interviewee makes clear the particular heuristic—i.e., complexity management strategy—he uses to parse the multifactorial social-ecological system he is charged with managing. This heuristic—“eliminate foreign species”—is a straightforward way to reduce the messy complexity of a landscape that has seen humans shape and live in it for literally hundreds of millennia (Naveh 1990). However, beyond the relatively clear-cut issue of differentiating native from nonnative flora, this one particular approach to complexity-management begins to fall short of adequately capturing other relevant nuances in the system. Echoing work in psychology (Peterson 1999, Peterson and Flanders 2002), we argue that it is at precisely this point where things are liable to go awry. One notable way this manifested in the course of our interviews is as follows. Owing to the particular narrow focus and inherent ontology of their principal “native-versus-nonnative” heuristic, NPA officials’ broad application of the same general schema (see Figure 2.2) across the landscape led them to exhibit a continual, semi-conscious ambivalence about what is ‘natural’ to the region (and hence worthy of protection) versus what is ‘unnatural’ to the region (and hence worthy of eradication). This carried over directly into how they described their thinking, and ultimately the narrative they constructed for us, about another historically pivotal but now largely forgotten phenomenon on Mt. Carmel: the once ubiquitous practice of goat grazing. 126 On one hand, NPA interviewees stated that the ever-present possibility of ‘overgrazing’ was a threat to the ‘naturalness’ of the region. This concern appeared to be premised on beliefs about the earlier effects of grazing, prior to its gradual decline in the area over the course of the 20th century. As one interviewee explained: [In earlier times] there were a lot of … goat herds, Arab goat herds, that didn’t allow anything to, you know, to grow… because they just … grazed like crazy… they eat everything. Yet on the other hand, NPA interviewees also acknowledged the benefits of (much) earlier grazing patterns, whereby shepherds would trim trees to provide fodder for their flocks, and goats would eat up otherwise flammable underbrush. When actively prompted to consider this earlier dynamic, in which indigenous Arab shepherding practices had a much more direct and widespread impact on the ‘nature’ of Mt. Carmel than is allowed today under the current biocentric ideology, NPA interviewees readily admitted that, despite their authority’s history of actively discouraging grazing in an effort to minimize ‘unnatural’ effects on the ecosystem, this earlier modus operandi likely once contributed to a much more fire-resistant landscape on Mt. Carmel (INPA 2012). Such a manicured hillside, they admitted, devoid of the large volume of flammable underbrush characterizing the contemporary goat-absent conditions, would have been far less likely to succumb to the massive scale of fire witnessed during the deadly 2010 catastrophe. Thus, in the wake of the fire, some NPA officials we spoke with in fact began to publicly express an interest in actively encouraging more grazing (albeit in a controlled way, so as to 127 minimize damage to the fragile shoots of endemic species such as oak and pistachio). In one forestry conference in the region in February 2012, some NPA officials even began to discuss the feasibility of a ‘payment for ecosystem services’ (PES) scheme, whereby local Carmel Druze or other Arabs could be directly compensated by the government for reviving the virtually eradicated cultural practice of goat herding in the forest. With respect to our argument about the usefulness of investigating actors’ patterns of complexity reduction, it is crucial to note that it literally took a massive, deadly forest fire for the positive role of once heavily-derided goat herding (see Section 4.7) to begin to gain traction amongst the NPA. This is not, we argue, because the NPA is a particularly myopic or ill-informed government agency. To the contrary, it is staffed with many university educated biologists and ecologists highly practiced, and regularly engaged, in nuanced thinking. The NPA’s slow pace of change in strategy is, rather, testament to the power of a core, foundational belief system—in this case, a deeply biocentric conservation narrative41—gone critically unexamined. Collectively, this core biocentric framing bolstered by its supporting heuristics can successfully reduce the daunting complexity of social-ecological systems down into simpler, more manageable prescribed actions. However, as evidenced by the scale of the 2010 fire, a lack of critical analysis of these entrenched complexity-reduction techniques can lead to sometimes catastrophically dangerous figurative blind spots. The role of the researcher here, then, can be to bring these techniques to light, and help elucidate their context-specific repercussions. 41 Such an approach to conservation is ironically itself a ‘foreign entity,’ introduced to the Middle East from the largely Anglo-American context in which it developed (Sarkar 2002). 128 4.6.2 Jewish National Fund foresters: “too much biocentrism, not enough forestry and more disappearing goats” While the NPA is responsible for conservation policy and enforcement within Mt. Carmel National Park writ large, segments of the Mt. Carmel forest are in fact administered by the Israeli state’s de facto forestry body, the Jewish National Fund (JNF). Known in Hebrew as the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel (KKL), the JNF is a nominally non-governmental organization originally formed in 1901 with the purpose of purchasing and securing land in Palestine for Jewish immigrants. Over the course of the early 20th century, afforestation came to play a central role in the JNF’s efforts to demarcate purchased land as Jewish (see Section 4.7.3), a central process in the consolidation of the emerging Jewish nation-state, which took place against a backdrop of intense indigenous Arab resistance (El-Eini 2006). Since the signing of an official agreement with the state in 1961, the JNF has expanded its activities beyond JNF-owned land, and now engages in planting and forestry activities on state-owned land, through piecemeal division-of-labour agreements with other relevant agencies such as the NPA. Mt. Carmel National Park is an example of one such area. Large segments of the park, particularly those closest to Druze town limits, are in fact planted and maintained by the JNF. The JNF foresters we interviewed expressed their primary aim in the region as actively managing the Carmel landscape in a “balanced” fashion (Adar 2012). Ideally, in their view, this would result in tracts of green, lush, but fire resistant forest, while simultaneously allowing for 129 a range of other human uses in the region, such as suitable forms of agriculture and tourism (Adar 2012). According to our JNF interviewees, the slopes of Mt. Carmel are a human-managed system that need to be actively tended so as not to become overgrown, and liable to large-scale canopy fire. In their capacity as foresters, JNF interviewees expressed the belief that avoiding and preventing such large-scale fire requires a number of active measures to be taken on a continual basis: pruning and thinning of trees, clearing of underbrush, creation of firebreaks by either making strategic clearings in the forest or planting rows of fire-resistant species (even if they are nonnative), encouraging controlled grazing, and constructing roads, where necessary, to allow better access for managers and fire crews. Unlike NPA officials, JNF interviewees supported the notion of active human intervention in the forest as a necessary, desirable phenomenon, which they appraised positively. NPA interviewees, in contrast, recoiled at the notion of increased man-made firebreaks and road construction in the Carmel as anathema to their own mandate of preserving contiguous livable habitat for threatened endemic fauna. JNF interviewees, in turn, decried the NPA approach as rooted in an excessively biocentric, impractical ideology. As one JNF forester insisted: The NPA saw this area like a wilderness… [they said] let’s not touch [it], [let’s] not manage [it], what will be will be. … [But our] main challenge as land managers, as both NPA and [JNF], is [to figure out] how to build this picture from all parts of this mosaic, to have parts protected and managed for humanity, on the very borders of the communities, [to include] areas of agricultural land, [and] on the other [hand] to decide 130 where are the main areas or points where there must be harsh protection, for [ecological] values. JNF interviewees went on to describe how the NPA’s strict preservationist ideology has combined with the drastic decrease in goat grazing over the past half-century to create an extremely flammable forest that is virtually always on the cusp of ignition. This, according to JNF interviewees, is what led to the devastating 2010 fire. As one interviewee explained to us: [Early on,] forests on Mt Carmel were more fragmented… [there was] still lots of goat grazing, the forest was still quite young. [But over time] goats [came to be seen as] the most important enemy of the forest… [this is because], at that time, grazing pressure [was still] very intensive, and [it] didn’t allow the forest to recover… [However,] we understand now that [minimizing human activity and embracing only] natural processes [doesn’t] always lead to the best forest composition… It’s important to try and [actively] manage a natural forest, even if it’s declared as nature reserve… Because if you don’t have grazing, and you don’t have fragmentation of the landscape, you have a very dense mixed forest… this is like a bomb. The solution, JNF interviewees argued, is rolling back the NPA’s hands-off management style, and actively intervening in the forest to minimize its fuel load. They noted that, in addition to the techniques described above, this may also require controlled burning, something the NPA may well find unacceptable. 131 4.6.3 ‘Isfiyya locals: “maybe God, maybe Satan and definitely Zionist discrimination” Finally, to gain an understanding of how local Druze were making sense of the chaos (Peterson 1999) unleashed by the 2010 disaster, we conducted two months of ethnographic observation, and a series of semi-structured in-depth interviews with a range of local residents in ‘Isfiyya and Daliat-al Karmel. When the topic of the fire was broached in our interviews, interviewees would frequently recount personal experiences of witnessing the fire in its early stages, highlighting its enormous scale. Many interviewees expressed a degree of fatalism about its cause. Some called it an ‘act of God,’ unstoppable given the unseasonably dry conditions at the time. Others called it an ‘act of Satan,’ whose face some people claimed could literally be seen billowing from the smoke, a phenomenon that a local man claimed to capture on video using his cell phone.42 This image, widely shared on digital media, appears to be burned to a degree into local Druze consciousness. The way in which the fire scarcely avoided the perimeter of ‘Isfiyya town limits, and appears not to have damaged tombs of local holy figures in the area, was highly salient for local Druze residents. Some interviewees attributed their apparent luck, albeit often with a degree of ambivalence or skepticism, to a ‘higher power’; namely God, or the spirits of the entombed holy figures themselves. Some interviewees cited the theory that a local Druze teenager started the fire by negligently throwing a lit water-pipe coal into the forest. Even those who did cite this theory, however, were quick to assert that it was nonetheless useless to blame or charge underage 42 One interviewee showed us this video, and there is, indeed, a moment in time at which a huge cloud of smoke over the smouldering forest does resemble the face of a sinister being. 132 Druze. Rather, the fire’s unprecedented destructiveness—which, in contrast to the mainstream Israeli print media (see Section 4.5), the Druze seemed motivated to distinguish from the initial blaze itself—was largely caused by more systemic, insidious factors, which we describe below. Namely, many Druze interviewees vociferously cited government ill-preparedness as the primary cause for the sheer scale of the fire. Those we spoke to in the village would consistently cite the several hours it took for emergency crews to respond to the blaze. As one group of male interviewees explained at a local carpentry studio: You can’t blame kids, because they’re less responsible than the firefighters … Two hours [and] 45 minutes for one fire fighter? … They [the nearest government authorities] have 10 trucks of fire fighters! They could have brought them here and it would have ended fast. … [There was such a] bad smell [that it should have been obvious]. … It’s their mistake. …. They thought it was a [routine] fire and underestimated it and sent one truck, but [it’s as if] they didn’t know that it was full of this [points to a sketch of a pine branch, with cone and needles, drawn by an interviewee], and this is really… it’s like gasoline… benzene, benzene, benzene! One of the interviewees added immediately: [Eventually] they sent one truck. But [it wasn’t enough to put out the fire]. They underestimated it. [That truck] called the cops, [and it was] two hours until [another] truck came … and [the fire] got bigger… [It was] two hours more until the third truck came and it got bigger [still]… [It took] 12 hours until the airplanes came… [By] then, it was an inferno. 133 Other interviewees went on to highlight a fundamental lack of proper firefighting equipment in the area suitable for handling such a large-scale fire. For many Druze, this latter fact appeared directly tied to an additional core theme to emerge from our interviews in the community. Namely, many interviewees described the government’s slow and ineffective response to the fire as a symptom of the Druze’s status as virtual second-class citizens in the majority-Jewish, Hebrew-speaking Israeli state. This is a central, shared proposition amongst Druze interviewees, and one that appeared, to us, associated with a deep sense of indignation. If the Druze were regarded as equal citizens, interviewees claimed, there would have been a proper fire brigade established in the area years ago, and the government response to the fire would have been swift and decisive. Instead, according to our interviewees, because the Druze minority is of a lower priority to the Jewish-dominated government than the Jewish majority, non-Jewish communities such as ‘Isfiya and neighbouring Daliat al-Karmel receive less funding for, and hence poorer, social services. For several interviewees, this perceived government prioritization of the well-being of Jewish, over Druze, citizens is more than a simple case of latent racism. While many interviewees denounced what they perceived as the government’s ethnic favouritism, some were clear in stating their belief that it has very obvious, evenly openly acknowledged, causes. Namely, some Druze interviewees appeared to believe the Israeli government openly assists its Jewish citizenry at the expense of its non-Jewish citizenry because that is the inherent logic of Israel’s founding Zionist movement itself: the creation and defense of a homeland of Jews, by Jews and for Jews. The reason such a logic persists with such intensity to this day is 134 seen, in turn, as a product of Jewish Israel’s ongoing, unresolved conflict with both the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states. According to this narrative, while the regional conflict still simmers, Israel’s limited funds must be sunk largely into defense, subtracting from what is left for social services. When it does come time to deliver social services, Jewish communities inevitably receive relatively more than non-Jewish ones, because the raison d’être of the state is Jewish welfare, not total welfare. When pressed, in turn, to explain the underlying causes of the ongoing conflict, interviewees cited meddling foreign interests including the United States, but, most significantly, they highlighted ‘poor political leadership,’ both within Israel, and amongst the neighbouring states and peoples with which it is at conflict. While parts of this broader-scale narrative about the overriding political dysfunction of the region may have resonated well with our interviewees from both the NPA and JNF alike, it is telling that the Druze were the only ones to connect these more long-cycling, regional political dynamics specifically to the disastrousness of the 2010 fire. Relatively unfamiliar with the ecological nuances dwelled upon by NPA and JNF officials, Druze interviewees looked for a coherent narrative of the fire that fit neatly with their own lived experience of community-level discrimination. At the same time, some of these same interviewees also hinted at a sense of guilt or shame over the villages’ illegal garbage dumps in the surrounding forest, which rumours were suggesting was where the fire started. Together, this narrative suggests a complexity-management strategy amongst the local Druze wherein a familiar “blame the state” heuristic worked quite well to make sense of how the fire got to the scale of destructiveness that it did. However, that limited heuristic simultaneously failed to fully capture interviewees’ 135 suspicion that dysfunction in the local Druze community itself also had a role to play in allowing for, or even fostering, the conditions and attitudes that led to the initial spark itself. Local Druze’s initial reluctance to explicitly incorporate this latter dimension into the narrative they constructed for us during the interviews is—just as with the self-serving aspects of both NPA and JNF interviewees’ narratives, above–consistent with psychological studies of people’s innate drive towards preserving positive social- and self-image (Gausel and Leach 2011, Keren and Gerritsen 1999, Taylor 1983). In this light, a positive role for research can be to identify and alert local stakeholders to the ways in which each of us naturally tends to reduce complexity in self-favourable ways, demonstrating the potentially invaluable knowledge and lessons that are otherwise unwittingly sacrificed to the psychological need for coherence and emotional equilibrium (Peterson 1999, Peterson and Flanders 2002). 4.7 Mt. Carmel in historical context: from ancient fire-shaped hillside to European fantasy forest While in-depth interviews allowed us to explore the particular narratives and complexity-management techniques of individual actors and stakeholder groups, and while media analysis enabled us to do the same for the public sphere, we feel this still lacks a dimension of explanatory richness that can only be gained by looking at a social-ecological system across a wider time span. Therefore, our third and final set of source material consists of previously published studies and historical documentary sources detailing how the Mt. Carmel landscape has (been) changed over deep time. Crucial to our methodology, we focus on 136 information that allows us to infer how various actors appear to have been reducing the complexity of the social-ecological system into prescriptions for how to act in and towards the landscape. This allows us to construct a sense of how cognitive and cultural factors themselves may have been culpable, long-term drivers of the 2010 disaster, creating a path-dependence replete with lessons for resilience that are nonetheless insufficiently captured by more mainstream public narratives. We begin below with a brief account of the historical causes of the fire, highlighting in particular the complexity-reducing role of ideology, idealized ‘natures’ and the concomitant decline of goat herding. We elaborate more on the connections amongst the latter concepts, and cognitive theory, in the conclusion. 4.7.1 Early history Confounding the NPA’s attempts to discern what is natural from what is man-made, material evidence attests to early hominids inhabiting caves in the Carmel region from at least as early as one million years ago (ZIA 2014). By the Early Upper Pleistocene (from 100,000 BP through to 12,000 BP), a discernable process of human-environment co-evolution began to develop in the area (Naveh 1990). Notably, in contrast to contemporary perceptions of fire as a modern blight on the ecosystem, the archeological record attests that it was, specifically, humans’ increasingly sophisticated use of fire that in fact characterized this formative co-evolutionary process. First, humans would burn patches of forest on and near the Carmel mountain range to create ‘pastures’ used to attract game such as gazelle. Increasingly inventive 137 uses of fire in this manner eventually led to a qualitatively different stage of co-evolution, in which humans began to fell some of the dense oak and pistachio forests covering the area at the time, burn the wood, and use the ashes in a process of reseeding with more suitable species (Naveh 1990). As this process continued, the area became increasingly dominated by cereal culture, and animal husbandry (Naveh 1990). While the crops changed, this land-use pattern continued steadily throughout the millennia, ultimately being adopted by the Druze upon their settlement on the Carmel sometime in the 17th century CE (Parsons 2000). It was only during the 20th century, in the context of major socioeconomic and political transformations, that agriculture and animal herding began to wane in importance (Nissan 2010). 4.7.2 Changing natures: Mt. Carmel in the modern period The modern history of the southern Mt. Carmel social-ecological system has been deeply shaped by at least two key dynamics of change. One of these has been a relatively rapid shift amongst local Druze from ancient agro-pastoral practices to integration into the modern state, specifically through industry and army careers (Nissan 2010, Parsons 2000, Dana 2003). The second major shift has been a consecutive inscription onto the landscape of a series of new, foreign conceptions of ‘ideal nature’ inherited first from early modern Europe (Liphschitz and Biger 2004), and later from the modern conservation movement (Paz 2012, Tal 2002). These ‘ideal natures’ comprise specific, normatively-laden, often aesthetically-concerned reductions of the otherwise overwhelming complexity of social-ecological relations. As we 138 detail below, these idealistic reductions served as cultural blueprints for management decisions, launching long-term trends of path-dependence in the Mt. Carmel social-ecological system that, by the unseasonably dry winter of 2010, had inadvertently conspired to create ideal conditions for disaster. Beginning in the late 19th century CE, historic Palestine saw several new waves of Europeans arrive on its shores both to visit, and to settle. This process began with visiting Western geographers and Christian German settlers, but soon shifted largely to Eastern European Jews who began to migrate to the land described in their scripture to escape and, ironically ultimately reproduce, the rising logic of exclusionary ethnonationalism that was coming to define life in early modern Europe (Stanislawsky 2001). The sort of landscape these waves of Europeans encountered in Palestine did not match what many 19th century western imaginations apparently construed as the “image of a green and lush Eretz Israel43, covered in ancient times with thick forests containing tall trees, … densely populat[ing] vast areas” (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 34-35). While these images seem to have been popular, likely owing to voluminous anachronistic European artistic portrayals of Biblical scenery (see Figure 4.3), such imagined landscapes in fact do not match the existing evidence for any period of time in historic Palestine. Rather, historians Liphschitz and Biger (2004) argue: 43 Eretz Israel is the Hebrew term for the ‘Land of Israel,’ and refers broadly to historic Palestine, a region circumscribed by the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Jordan River in the East, and the Litani or Qasimiyeh River in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea to the south. 139 [D]escriptions of the landscape of Eretz Israel in times long gone, which tell of thick forests covering vast areas of the plains and mountains, are mostly a desire of the heart that is not based on comprehensive archeo-botanical research (35). Thus, German, and later Jewish and British, afforestation efforts in what is today Israel-Palestine were in fact initiated, Liphschitz and Biger (2004) submit (italics added): …in an attempt to restore the country’s [imagined] past scenery, [which stemmed from a particularly] European way of thought, brought forth from that continent by the new settlers…[A]fforestation was…based on new species and varieties that were introduced…and planted on lands that had never been covered by forests (35). That said, we should not overstate Mt. Carmel’s barrenness prior to modern forestry efforts. Accounts by Western travellers note that, in contrast to many other parts of Palestine, Mt. Carmel was not entirely bereft of foliage in the late 19th century44 (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). 44 Henry Baker Tristam visited Palestine in 1863-1864, and recorded the following description of the Carmel: Apparently—a proper, so-called forest does not exist here, other than the Pines on its peaks…Most of the area is covered by thick shrubbery. It is nearly arid near Haifa—where the groves were cut down for the making of coal…but the rest of the region comprises of an impenetrable thicket. Other than the Pines, Oaks are the dominant tall-trunk trees present. Some of these evergreen, flat-leafed trees have an elegant appearance. In addition, there are Chestnuts (Castaneas) and single representatives of all Eretz Israel’s trees (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 37-38). And in 1879, traveller R.C. Conder reported that: The country’s natural vegetation consists of a few trees, bushes and shrubs. …[However,] A dense Oak forest backed by a lower sub-forest exists between Mt. Carmel and Nazareth, [a]n open Oak forest grows on the low hills south of Mt. Carmel … and it is what has survived from the large forest described by [earlier travellers]—and is one of the prettiest spots in the Holy Land (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 38-39). 140 Such records describe a predominance of the sort of oak-and-shrub landscape one would expect of a rural eastern Mediterranean hillside heavily manicured by goat grazing. Indeed, due to their voraciousness, extensive goat grazing would have had a truly pivotal effect on the terrain. Aside from goats’ consumption of shoots and underbrush, shepherds themselves would have shaped the landscape as they pruned trees with a sickle-like tool called a ‘manjal’, removing higher branches to provide added fodder for their flock (INPA 2012). The result was, imaginably, a sparsely forested slope of short, bush-sized oaks, pistachios and eastern Aleppo pines, with relatively little flammable underbrush. This heavily grazed brushscape (or ‘maquis’) would have been interspersed with terraced agricultural plots of varying productivity, breaking up the landscape and mitigating the possibility of large-scale fire. In the relatively dry Mediterranean climate, with its long hot summer months, followed by wet, stormy winters, such agricultural and grazing pressures would have also presumably led to a gradually worsening cycle of soil erosion. It seems that it was said soil erosion, combined with extensive deforestation elsewhere in Palestine, that jarred German settlers, Jewish immigrants and later British colonists, into attempting a large-scale reshaping of the local landscape to match their culturally inherited western ideals (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). 141 Figure 4.3 Biblical landscape in the European imaginary, c. 1650, and an actual Palestinian landscape, c. 1866 142 Above is an iconic 17th century European depiction of the Biblical landscape, entitled ‘Saint John the Baptist preaching in the Desert,’ painted by Pier Francesco Mola c. 1650-1655.45 Note the lushness of the foliage. Below, is an early photograph of the actual Palestinian landscape encountered by early British expeditionary forces in the late 19th century (c. 1866)46. The contrast was likely jarring for European arrivals on Palestinian shores, who then proceeded to reshape the landscape to better match their own imagined schema (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). On Mt. Carmel, this led unwittingly to a dynamic of path-dependent expansion of planted pine forest that culminated in unprecedentedly flammable conditions in the winter of 2010. 4.7.3 Zionism and the afforestation of pines: a mutually reinforcing cycle Afforestation was not initially core to the vision of founding Zionist ideologue Theodor Herzl. However, as soon as it was realized that the Palestinian landscape did not match that of the European Jewish imaginary, forestry very soon became a central multi-purpose activity for Jewish colonists (Liphschitz and Biger 2004).47 At first, Zionist planting efforts appear to have 45 Public domain, via Ciudad de la Pintura, http://pintura.aut.org/BU04?Autnum=12.277, accessed 30 July 2014 46 Original source: Jacob's Well, near Shechem, Frank Mason Good (English, 1839–1928), 1860s. Getty, http://blogs.getty.edu/iris/files/2011/06/jacobs_well.jpg, accessed 30 July 2014 47 As Liphschitz and Biger (2004) write: [Although] [a]fforestation of Eretz Israel did not [at first] seem an important issue for the [early] Zionist leadership…when they were exposed to the gloomy landscape of a country stripped of trees, they could not remain indifferent. … [T]he first manager of the Jewish National Fund (JNF)…pushed for afforestation. Theodor Herzl offered to establish a planting association that [would] also deal with donations. Herzl visited Eretz Israel in 1898, and observed the bareness and emptiness. Upon returning to Europe he turned to [tropical forestry specialist] Prof. Otto Warburg and asked him to prepare a detailed memorandum regarding the plants of Eretz Israel and the possibilities of settling the country…In 1899 [Warburg] presented Herzl with a detailed survey concerning the different climatic zones of Eretz Israel, and the possibilities of tree planting. Warburg was certain that afforestation would contribute to climatic and economic improvement in the desolate [imagined] homeland (57-58). 143 had a largely, if not solely, agricultural focus. Hopes were placed on fruit trees, including palm, coconut, and especially olive, which European Zionist minds imagined could birth a new self-supporting agricultural industry for Jews in Palestine. However, early efforts at olive grove planting stuttered. Soon, focus began to shift towards ‘barren’ (fruitless) forest trees, and for aesthetic and nationalist, not merely productive, purposes (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, Zerubavel 1996). Planting trees of this sort (i.e., evergreens), and for these purposes, came to be a central raison-d’être of the JNF, which, as mentioned above, remains one of the central actors on Mt. Carmel today. This early shift towards fruitless and flammable, but fast growing, pines is evidenced in a 1911 communication from early JNF chairman, M. Bodernheimer: [During my last visit to Erezt Israel] I witnessed that the [so-called] olive orchards [were in fact] nothing but a failure … In addition to that, one must not think of “forests” in Eretz Israel in the manner that forests are perceived in Europe. After [local consultation] I have decided to make dramatic changes. According to my own advice—Eucalyptus, Cypress and [Pine] trees, which hold the ability to improve the country’s appearance and climate, were planted. Forests of this type demand a long-term investment of resources, but they carry some real value. Such a project can only be undertaken by a public organization, which is why I accepted it as an obligatory and important task for the JNF (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 63-65).48 48 Liphschiz and Biger (2004) describe how this shift came to dominate forestry policy in mandate Palestine in the years to come. They emphasize the key political role it came to have for the Zionist project: [The new forestry policy was encapsulated in a Zionist] memorandum titled: “On the Deforestation of Eretz Israel and a Suggestion for its Renovation.” [This] policy was later adopted by the British regime, as 144 It was at this point that Jewish forestry in Palestine began to morph from an agricultural and economic activity, albeit for colonial aims, to a predominantly nationalistic one. In so doing, proto-state foresters began eliciting a series of motivational images and narratives that bolstered Zionist goals (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, Zerubavel 1996). These narratives give us a useful window into the particular ways that European Jewish settlers were reducing the historical, social and ecological complexity of the ‘Biblical’ landscape into a field for a specific kind of political action. In a particularly telling example, a 1921 JNF forestry policy stated: Forests occupy an important part of human history, from the days of Genesis to these times. A forested country holds a blessing and becomes an attractive force bringing people to settle and live in it because forests dictate three of the most influential conditions related to man and his environment: Water, Air and Soil. Woe and anguish are the fate of a deforested land. Without trees—the harmonious natural creation is unbalanced, and an opportunity is given to destructive factors that ruin the air breathed by the land’s inhabitants. The people of Israel were commanded by God to plant—as they inherited the country, and our forefathers were keen and meticulous in filling this Command…but from the day our people left for the Diaspora—the land lay in waste. The numerous enemies stripped it of its tree-jewels and it became emptier and treeless well as the State of Israel when it finally controlled the country. The afforestation guidelines [therein] … have not changed significantly since then. Afforestation was regarded as necessary for the Zionist aspiration of changing the landscape of Eretz Israel and settling Jews in it. The [JNF] whose initial task was to purchase land, became an operative body leading the afforestation of areas that could not be cultivated—in order to both reaffirm ownership and supply work to the incoming immigrants. The core activity had moved to the uncultivated mountainous lands … following the new scheme of planting forest trees (63-65). 145 during the centuries, until it stands in front of us—completely bare (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 67). As mentioned above, Liphschitz and Biger (2004) inform us that “this romanticized image captures more imagination than reality” (67). Later research has shown that historic Palestine was likely never covered by forests as per western conceptions of the term. The climate is simply not suitable. “Even the [Biblical] command of planting trees,” speculate Liphschitz and Biger (2004), “had fruit trees and not barren ones [such as pines] in mind” (67). Nonetheless, it was an attitude of fighting back centuries of perceived human, specifically non-Jewish, ‘mistreatment,’ and preventing “demolition of the land” (67) by means of erosion that came to infuse Zionist forestry discourse (Liphschitz and Biger 2004). However, beyond a mere greening of the newly adopted ‘homeland,’ JNF afforestation also served a more directly tactical, political goal: marking land purchased by Jews against the competing claims of dispossessed Arab peasants (El-Eini 2006). Liphschitz and Biger (2004) argue that immediately after WWI, this was done on Mt. Carmel, specifically (76). The Arabs, for their part, repeatedly used both arson, and goat grazing, as ways of refuting Jewish claims to newly-forested lands throughout mandate Palestine (El-Eini 2006). This dynamic continued for decades, up to the outbreak of all-out war between the two sides in the wake of the 1948 withdrawal of British forces (El-Eini 2006). Thus, both forests, and fire, have heavily laden meanings for the residents of present-day Israel, evoking century-old themes of politics, nationalism and tragically lethal ethnic strife. 146 That said, while Zionist afforestation was largely about securing both land rights, and, through forestry campaigns, foreign support from the Jewish diaspora, early Zionist afforestation did also serve other purposes. New forests provided both timber for local industry, as well as employment for new settlers (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 77). These latter, economic purposes, in conjunction with agricultural and aesthetic concerns, were what motivated British colonial forestry efforts in Palestine. 4.7.4 The British in Palestine: copy, paste, colonize—and down with the goats When the British wrested control of Palestine from the Ottomans in 1917, they found themselves stewards of a largely unforested land. As described above, this landscape did not reflect the ideal image of the ‘Holy Land’ likely held by many western imaginations (Zerubavel 1996). Sir Herbert Samuel, the first British High Commissioner of Palestine, described the situation in the following terms: Worn-out from war and exhausted was the land, as [British] General Allenby’s forces swept across it…. The few forests have been all but cut down…mountain tops and their slopes are indeed suitable for the planting of trees, but nevertheless—there are no forests. Many desolate sandy hills are awaiting their saviours as they expand and endanger the nearby cultivated fields (Liphschitz and Biger 2004, 171). It was in light of such perceptions that the British implemented a series of forestry policies and afforestation initiatives. However, rather than design a new set of policies from scratch, the British approach was essentially imported wholesale from its forestry efforts in other colonies. 147 These domains of previous forestry experience included mainly India and Cyprus. Application of principles developed in those two colonies were then combined in Palestine with the literal importation of species from Egypt and Australia (El-Eini 2006). The policies that the British put in place in turn directly influenced the Israeli policies that followed them. Setting a precedent for state intervention that lives on to this day in Israel, in a 1920 ordinance, the colonial government reserved the right to protect and govern public forests, newly labeled ‘State Forests,’ but also to manage private forests. With this document, the felling of most tree species were prohibited without written permission, and permits were now required (de jure if not de facto) for coal and wood collection, resin extraction and, significantly, goat grazing (Lipschitz and Biger 2004, 172). Much of British forestry policy hinged on the issue of how and to what degree to control grazing. Documentary sources reveal disagreements within the colonial administration over how seriously, and to what extent, to place limits on locals’ grazing activities. Gilbert N. Sale, Palestine’s first Conservator of Forests and head of the Department of Forests, attributed much of the region’s apparent soil erosion to ‘over’-grazing, and advocated a policy of strict grazing controls. In a classic example of how pre-supposed axioms (e.g., the ‘need’ for lush greenery) can tragically reduce important elements of a complex reality, Sale seemed either entirely unable or unwilling to view goats as an integral part of the millennia-old social-ecological system. Rather, he insisted that Arab herders’ flocks were none other than “highly dangerous beasts” whose voracious appetites had to be curbed (El-Eini 2006, 196). Sale did not keep his opinion 148 private. Forests, he wrote, simply could not simultaneously grow, and provide fodder (El-Eini 2006, 196). Thus, despite the irreplaceable centrality of goats to the local Arab economy, in a publicly distributed pamphlet on combating soil erosion, Sale literally had goats labeled Palestine’s “Public Enemy No. 1” (El-Eini 2006, 222). This was followed by a series of educational calendars, which contrasted Palestine’s imagined, verdant, conspicuously goatless future with an artist’s depiction of barren hillsides riddled with voracious black goats. The typical Palestinian goat-grazed landscape was described explicity as “neither beautiful nor useful” (El-Eini 2006, 216) (see Figure 4.4). 149 Figure 4.4 Illustrations from a 1943 British Mandate calendar promoting soil conservation and denigrating goats These illustrations depict what the British colonial administration derided as a “neither beautiful, nor useful” typical Palestinian landscape (above). This is contrasted with what the colonials suggest to be the ideal future Palestinian landscape, below. Note how the image 150 above features several black goats dominating the foreground, while the image below is entirely ‘goat-free’ (El-Eini 2006, 218). (Modified. Original source: Soil Conservation Board and Department of Forests Calendar, 1943, enclosed: Sale, Manuscript Collections, RHL/MSS.Medit.s.23. The Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Rhodes House. G. N. Sale, Manuscript Collections, Mss.Medit.s.23. via El-Eini (2006, 218)). When the British withdrew from Palestine in 1948, it was this psychological disconnect between state-decreed, idealized green space and the dry eastern Mediterranean scrub, that they left in their wake. After the Jewish defeat of Arab forces in the same year, the newly recognized State of Israel began to remedy the lingering cognitive dissonance immediately. 4.7.5 Mt. Carmel after Jewish victory: from Druze means of production to Jewish State jewel The culturally inherited European longing for a ‘lush and productive’ holy land, combined with the Jews’ lack of reliance on goat-grazing as an economic mainstay, helps explain how, over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, the southwestern slopes of Mt. Carmel evolved from a patchwork of oak forest, agricultural plots, grazing land and maquis, to the densely forested mix of national park and nature reserve that it is today. This process was partly catalyzed by the Israeli state’s passing of the so-called ‘Black Goat Law’ in 1950 (Falah 1985, Rosenberg 2011). This law outlawed grazing the ‘black goat’—a goat variety that was perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be especially voracious—on land other than that owned by the 151 shepherd (Falah 1985). This was largely aimed at curbing the grazing activities of nomadic Arab (Bedouin) shepherds (Falah 1985), but it is indicative of a generally disapproving attitude towards all goat herding at the time, partially inherited from the earlier British forestry strategy championed by Sale.50 On the Carmel, specifically, it was around this time that the socioeconomic dynamic of Druze life began to change substantially. With increasing integration into the new Israeli state, Druze life began to revolve more around military service, capital accumulation and the town centre, and less around agro-pastoral activities on the surrounding mountaintop (Nissan 2010, Dana 2003). As both the number of active shepherds and the intensity of grazing itself declined, the landscape on the Carmel began to morph from a heavily-grazed, shepherd-trimmed maquis, to a denser, underbrush-rich forest. Over time, the composition of this forest shifted from mainly slow-growing, fire-resistant oak to mainly fast-growing, flammable pine, presumably spurred by germination from nearby plots of Aleppo and Stone pine planted in earlier years by the British and JNF. 50 Siddle (2009) writes how early modern European attitudes toward goats were themselves deeply structured by cultural and mythological narratives: So the goat has three separate images, the first as a provider of good things to poor people, the second as a ravager of land and crops, the third as a manifestation of unpleasant habits and behaviour both on their own account and as surrogates for those semi-savages who tended them. Out of the derogative aspects of the animal’s place in mediaeval and Renaissance and early modern cosmology and mythology, it is primarily represented to all as the animal closest in nature to the Great Satan. How easy it became to ban the bête noire, framed for disapproval by a millennium of developing fear and distaste. Goat bans were, at the same time, a means of controlling the most anarchic elements of the population, a means to ease the path to commercial woollen enterprise and a means of improving timber supplies for the navy. Bans also better preserved the hunting grounds for hawk and hound. In such circumstances the poor manbeast, the Caliban of the periphery, stood no chance (531). 152 In 1963, sustained protests on the part of Jewish nature enthusiasts coincided with the government’s new state-building strategy to successfully transform southern Mt. Carmel into Israel’s first national park (Tal 2002, Paz 2012). However, while a major accomplishment for Jewish Israeli nature lovers, the declaration of the park set the stage for two significant problems that were to emerge decades into the future. One problem is a contemporary dispute between the Druze and the state over access to privately owned Druze land in the park (see Chpater 3)51. For the purposes of this paper, however, the second of the two problems is most central. Namely, it is the inconvenient fact that the park’s creation, and subsequent management as a zone free of human influence, cannot be realistically construed as anything other than the central cause of Carmel’s increased flammability. Over time, Mt. Carmel National Park came to be managed less like an agro-pastoral landscape serving multiple human-centered functions—including aesthetic beauty, which was in fact the primary concern of the park’s early proponents (Paz 2012)—and more like a nature reserve, meant to limit all human impact and preserve as much biodiversity as possible as an end in and of itself. This change in strategy mirrored a gradual shift in ideology amongst the wider western conservation movement, whereby parks first cordoned off for the aesthetic, psychological and recreational benefit of those who could afford to enjoy them were becoming recast instead as precious repositories of planetary genetic heritage (Adams and Hutton 2007). Thus, once an 51 This dispute has become increasingly acrimonious in recent years, as Druze population has grown and town limits have expanded (see Chapter 3). 153 ancient mosaic shaped by agriculture, prescribed burning and grazing, then later re-imagined as a fantastically verdant hillside as per the European Biblical ideal, the ‘nature’ of Mt. Carmel has, in recent decades, once again been reinvented by the imaginations of the powerful. This time, it has been cast as a last bastion of habitat for species whose existence is—quite truthfully—threatened by the surrounding state’s hyper-development. Awkwardly, however, the result of putting this vision into practice has been the creation of a landscape—directly adjacent to densely inhabited human settlements—that has likely never been so flammable in over a million years. The eventual refashioning of the southern Carmel as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1996 was an attempt on the part of key NPA officials and other interested parties to mitigate these two problems, and provide a more flexible land-use framework that could allow a wider range of human uses of the forest, while still maintaining its protected status (Frankenberg 2009). For a number of reasons, however, including a lack of local buy-in, and a dearth of funding, the Biosphere Reserve designation had, as of 2010, not succeeded in its aims. Perhaps in the wake of the brutal Carmel disaster, the relevant parties will reexamine the potential of the Biosphere Reserve schema as a context for better balancing human use of the mountainside with current conservationist priorities. For that to happen, however, a multistakeholder decision-making context that examines seriously the multiple, interconnected factors contributing to the triple challenge of fire risk, habitat destruction, and environmental conflict would most likely have to take shape. As of the writing of this paper, such a forum has yet to materialize. 154 4.8 Discussion and implications Let us return briefly to our initial questions. What can our findings tell us about how and why particular narratives of cause emerge at the expense of others in the wake of disaster? What role do dominant narratives themselves play in such events? Finally, what inferences can be drawn from the Mt. Carmel case that may be instructive for the wider study of social-ecological systems on the one hand, and the sort of ‘citizen historiography’ or contention over public discourse that can take place in the wake of major change (Langenohl 2000, Briggs 2004), on the other? In the previous sections, we explored these questions by applying an empirically-informed cognitive lens to three different sources of material on Mt. Carmel and its 2010 combustion. Here we highlight a number of persistent patterns across what emerged from our above analysis, and reflect on the potential meanings of these insights for research. Our first set of data, compiled directly from mainstream Israeli press media, clearly suggests that the most immediate popular reaction to the fire was not to consider a range of multifactorial causes and conditions that were likely to have contributed to the blaze’s ignition and subsequent tragic spread. Rather, media and state authorities were immediately and specifically focused on identifying human ‘culprits.’ While this may seem banal, it is worth noting that this is in fact a very particular form of complexity management: myopically fixating on clearly identifiable, single-factorial, human-scale causes for otherwise complex, multifactorial phenomena. 155 As the work of psychologist Haidt (2001) and others suggests, this sort of emotion-driven response to a highly affect-laden event is in fact the standard reaction (Roemer, et al. 1998, Taylor 1983, Peterson 1999). Emotion, here, precedes and provides context for subsequent rational processes. As unsettling as it may be, people intuitively select subjectively believable explanations for distressing events (e.g., ‘Arabs are genocidal against Jews,’ or ‘God is punishing the Jews for flouting religious law’) not on the basis of demonstrable evidence, but rather on the basis of how well they appease immediate emotional impulses to resolve the discomfort of uncertainty, offset blame, and stabilize self-image (Campbell and Sedikides 1999, Keren and Gerritsen 1999, Peterson and Flanders 2002). Counteracting this tendency drains peoples’ limited time and energy, and thus generally occurs only in contexts that expressly foster self-awareness and reflexive critique (see Chapter 2). In the early stages of the Carmel disaster, it appears a fractious and embarrassed state was unwilling or unable to proffer a coherent account of what had happened, and why. As a consequence, individual politicians and citizens immediately began to replace the disturbing ambiguity of the situation with a search for emotionally-convenient ‘culprits,’ many of whom were later revealed to be imagined: ‘genocidal’ Arab arsonists or negligent Druze youth. At the same time, blame was also laid specifically at the feet of the nebulous, dysfunctional ‘government,’ implied to be spoiled by the private interests of corrupt or incompetent ministers. As with the convenient ethnic other, this latter choice of culprit offered accusers consolation by simultaneously reducing the fear of chaos that emerges in association with a catastrophic unpredicted event (Peterson 1999), while also enhancing the accusers’ own self-156 image by enabling them to feel, however fleetingly, superior to the otherwise powerful ‘culprits’ (Campbell and Sedikides 1999, Girard 1978, Drabeck and Quarantelli 1967, Veltfort and Lee 1943)52. This drive towards selectively crafting a narrative in which the self is able to claim the moral high ground relative to another has been shown repeatedly in the laboratory setting. It has also been shown to increase in intensity the more disastrous an accident is, and the more dissimilar from oneself one perceives the accused ‘culprit’ to be (Burger 1981). Predictably, then, only after more than a year had passed, and the State Comptroller had begun to divulge early conclusions from his report on the fire, did a wider range of more ‘relatable,’ popularly respected, less emotionally compelling human targets (i.e., previously lauded politicians, the police service, and the fire brigades) begin to receive a comparable degree of scrutiny for their role in the disaster. Even then, the information released from the Comptroller’s report focused almost entirely on human culprits, apparently unreflectively mimicking the mode of previous inquiries that have characterized Israel’s reactions to the more familiar events of military failure or criminal scandal. This is important, because people’s apparent disposition to this particular approach of meaning-making from a disaster can have major impacts on subsequent policy making, collective memory, and learning. Specifically in the case of the 2010 Carmel disaster, kneejerk wholesale scapegoating of outgroups and suspect individuals with political power—a pattern that was merely refined, but not challenged, by the 2012 State Comptroller’s report—appears to have crowded out any in-depth public consideration of the environmental, contextual and historical factors that our 52 This is a well-documented phenomenon that has been described and observed in numerous other contexts over the course of history (Girard 1978, Drabeck and Quarantelli 1967, Veltfort and Lee 1943). 157 subsequent research revealed as crucial to fully grasping the multiple distal causes of the disaster. Left unchallenged, this unreflective, reactionary form of complexity management therefore limits the degree to which root causes and slower, less obvious, but highly consequential drivers of the tragedy can or will be addressed in a meaningful way. We argue that this simple insight—the high cognitive salience of other people relative to the comparatively low salience of underlying ecological or social processes and conditions—is critically important to social-ecological systems theory. This is because popular frameworks for the study and governance of social-ecological systems tend to assume that people are responding primarily to ecosystems (or ‘resource’ systems), as mediated by institutions (Ostrom 2009, Fischer, et al. 2012, Folke 2006, Johnson, Williams and Nichols 2013, Garmestani and Benson 2013). This assumption is central, and largely dictates the range of hypotheses and solutions proposed for fostering the sustainability of a given system. What our study of Mt. Carmel suggests, however, is that when sufficiently catastrophic ‘surprises’ emerge, the ensuing cognitive chaos (Peterson 1999) drives people to respond less to the ecosystem itself, and more immediately to fellow individuals and groups, as people scramble to maintain their self-image and status in a flurry of mutual scapegoating (Branscombe and Wann 1994, Campbell and Sedikides 1999, Fein and Spencer 1997). This, of course, favours the construction of a public discourse—and ultimately a dominant narrative—focused on the actions and reactions of immediate human actors, rather than on the historical, ecological, and especially combined historical-ecological factors that drove the disaster. Ironically, because social-ecological systems are so inherently non-linear (Folke 2006, Folke, 158 Carpenter, et al. 2002), there is strong path-dependency. Thus, it will often be a grasp of precisely these opaque historical-ecological drivers that prove to be most relevant to effectively reforming a society’s adaptive capacity (Boonstra and de Boer 2014). Efforts to manage a problem or ‘surprise’ based on proximate causes is, in contrast, often futile or even counter-productive in the long run (Haque and Etkin 2007). Yet, this is not all. Turning back to the specific case of Mt. Carmel, the myopic public response described above was further abetted by a second major pattern to emerge from our analysis of the Israeli online print media: an increasing conflation in the public sphere, over time, of (1) the fire, (2) its origins, (3) the death of the 44 individuals who perished in the blaze, and (4) the managerial and logistical missteps that ultimately led to the tragic loss of life, human and non-human. This conflation was both reflected in, and reinforced by, the print media’s labeling of the twin events with the single term: ‘the Carmel disaster’ (אסון הכרמל). A mere shorthand of convenience, the repeated use of this term in the public sphere has nonetheless bundled together the series of otherwise quite separate contextual factors and causes associated with the disaster into one lumped entity in the public memory, thus making it even more difficult for the public and the state alike to make useful distinctions and draw useful lessons for future resilience. Of course, the drive for complexity reduction is by no means limited to mass media. It is, in fact, a ubiquitous, inevitable aspect of being alive (Peterson and Flanders 2002). However, insights from our in-depth interviews demonstrate how even highly educated individuals, intimately familiar with the landscape, communities, flora, and fauna of Mt. Carmel, were liable 159 to reduce the complexity of the very same social-ecological system in remarkably different, sometimes mutually incompatible ways. This implies that, without a formal or informal institutional mechanism for reconciling these mutual incompatibilities, prospects for multistakeholder collaboration to effectively learn from the disaster and prevent future catastrophe remain precarious at best. To reiterate, while the NPA officials we interviewed stressed the negative, ‘un-naturalness’ of JNF forestry practices, as well as the Druze’s apparent endemic disregard for zoning law, JNF foresters pointed their finger in the precise opposite direction. JFN interviewees stressed the negative impact of what they regarded as the NPA’s overly ideological commitment to a purely non-interventionist, biocentric, preservationist form of land management, which precluded the degree of tree pruning, fire break creation, and road construction necessary to minimize risk of catastrophe. This latter issue was hardly mentioned by NPA interviewees, while their focus on the negative repercussions of earlier pine planting programs at the hands of the British and the JNF were, in turn, almost entirely excluded from JNF interviewees’ narratives. The centrality of Druze interviewees’ self-perception as second-class citizens in Israel, for whom—the argument goes—state authorities provide conspicuously sub-standard services, including police and fire-fighting, was in turn entirely absent from the causal narratives provided by JNF and NPA interviewees alike. In fact, some NPA interviewees asserted that the 160 Druze in fact have a disproportionately high amount of political power relative to the size of their community.53 These divergent, and sometimes directly contradictory, accounts of the social-ecological dynamics on Mt. Carmel yet again demonstrate the primacy of emotion in weaving coherent causal narratives, or ‘mental models’ (Gentner and Gentner 1983) of complex systems, whereby ‘blame’ for a threatening negative situation or event is intuitively shifted to an outgroup (Branscombe and Wann 1994, Campbell and Sedikides 1999, Keren and Gerritsen 1999), and only then rationalized ex-post-facto. An uncritical acceptance of the comprehensiveness of any one of these individual narratives, or a chalking-up of differences entirely to power relations, risks losing the point completely: that virtually anyone is liable, if not inevitably bound, to reduce the complexity of a given situation in ways that are emotionally self-serving, even at the cost of more comprehensive understanding (Campbell and Sedikides 1999, Fein and Spencer 1997, Haidt 2001, Branscombe and Wann 1994, Peterson and Flanders 2002). Finally, the historical materials we presented attest to the fact that unchecked intuitive habits of complexity management not only constrain current understandings of the 2010 disaster, but were also integral to the particular forms of land use that colonialism, Zionism and ultimately the states conservation agencies, put in place throughout Mt. Carmel’s modern history. By applying partial, culturally-informed ideological lenses to the landscape, each 53 The implication was that this is due to their strategic importance as the Israeli state’s sole reservoir of Arabic-speaking army conscripts, as well as because of related historical security alliances between the Druze and the Jewish state since 1948. 161 consecutive authority built upon the slow-changing socioecological path forged by its predecessor. In this sense, people today are now the inheritors of earlier, particular complexity reduction strategies adopted, consciously or otherwise, by previous, even long-deceased actors. Specifically in the case of Mt. Carmel, the sources cited in the sections above illustrate how neither the Zionist foresters, nor the British nor the Germans from whom they adopted their afforestation practices, approached the landscape of the Carmel from a position of unbiased rationality. Rather, each of these groups reduced the infinite number of ways one could interpret the Palestinian landscape they encountered by drawing on their particular cultural heritage and emotionally-guided goals, simplifying and interpreting what they witnessed and encountered through the lens of their own group identities, cultural assumptions and previous experiences. The result is that some visions, some potentialities, of what the Carmel could have become, were again crowded out by those that were narrowly assumed or implied to be preferable by the cultural ‘scripts’ and mental ‘schemas’ most familiar to the actors with the power to impose them (see Chapter 2). The sequence of colonists and settlers to make their mark on the Carmel drew upon European ideals (imagined Biblical landscapes, high-yield German forests) and, in the case of the British, previous colonial models (Cyprus, India, Egypt, Australia) to shape their actions towards the Carmel. This reliance by colonists on previous institutional memory and stored, vaguely analogous experience, constituted what is today referred to as ‘distributed cognition’: a common cognitive technique whereby people offload the time and effort required to make a 162 sound decision by drawing on the accumulated experiences stored in one’s social or technological environment (Giere and Moffat 2003). This can afford huge efficiencies. However, as became tragically clear on Mt. Carmel in 2010, such forms of complexity reduction can have majorly consequential—if temporally remote—downstream effects. Namely, in the case of the Carmel, it became apparent nearly a century after concerted European attempts at refashioning the landscape that, in an eastern Mediterranean climate, a dense pine forest, entirely absent of the ‘voracious’ and ‘dangerous’ goat, is in fact more than just verdant and deeply satisfying to a European Judeo-Christian aesthetic (and, later, to the sensibilities of modern conservationists). It is also remarkably, even lethally, flammable. 4.9 Conclusion It seems implausible that the relevant historical actors could have foreseen the loss of life and value that would ultimately follow from their predilection to view the Carmel hillside as a Biblical landscape in need of ‘revitalization,’ or, later, as a fragile ‘natural’ ecosystem that had to be cordoned off as much as possible from people and voracious livestock. Rather, actively inscribing said values onto the landscape likely seemed, to them, a self-evident necessity during their respective periods of authority. That said, in light of our comparative study, we do feel that both the landscape of Mt. Carmel and the contemporary public consciousness in Israel have been heavily shaped, if not warped, by the particular, largely unthinking ways in which efficacious actors have intuitively sought to reduce and manage complexity. 163 Taking Mt. Carmel and its fiery fate as an example, we therefore submit both that societies on the whole, and the researchers who study them, have much to gain from paying explicit attention—as we have here—to the specific ways in which actors (including ourselves as researchers) are predictably liable to wrestle with the complexity we continually encounter. Success in this endeavour will require an even fuller critical integration of contemporary insights from the behavioural and cognitive sciences into the methodological lexicon of disciplines at the nexus of the humanities and social sciences. At the level of public policy, academic calls for improving ‘adaptive capacity’ to learn from ‘surprises’ and create more sustainable, resilient systems (Liu, Dietz, et al. 2007), while prudent, may in many contexts be a case of jumping the allegorical gun. Before genuine ‘experiential learning’ (Tschakert and Dietrich 2010) can occur, there must first be a psychosocial context in which genuine critical reflection is made possible. Inferring from the example presented in this paper, we suggest this requires creative institutional buffering from the sorts of immensely compelling, everyday, affect-driven cognitive shortcuts otherwise stoked by the models of (for-profit) information dissemination and (short-term, partisan) governance that currently characterize many if not most 21st century societies. Theorizing how such change is possible is as much the domain of political economy as it is of social-ecological systems research, anthropology, or historiography. We argue that the humanities and both the social and ecological sciences are ripe for more interdisciplinary collaboration of this kind in order to address civilizational resilience in the 21st century. 164 Chapter 5: Sea Otters and White Men For The Win—demographic asymmetries in perceived benefits and losses under a trophic cascade in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO 5.1 Introduction Clayoquot Sound is a visually stunning but contested space on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The region has a history of forestry and fishery conflicts amongst local First Nations, successive colonial and Canadian governments, industry, environmental groups and a diversity of local non-First Nations actors. In recent years, however, the locus of acrimony has begun to shift to the perceived ecological effects of one relatively small marine mammal: the unassuming but voracious sea otter (Enhydra lutris). A reintroduction (see Section 5.2) and recent boom in the once decimated sea otter population is having substantial and rapidly cascading effects on the local nearshore ecosystem. As sea otters continue to multiply and, with the protection of Canada’s Species at Risk Act, spread unimpeded, the mammal has been coming into direct competition with humans for edible shellfish and other marine invertebrates. This has proven particularly troubling for First Nations in the remote northern region of the west coast of Vancouver Island (WCVI), where otters were first reintroduced. There, many locals perceive the animal’s resurgence to have severely reduced their access to prized traditional foods, hence harming their food security, their sense of cultural continuity and arguably even their health. As otters continue to expand their range southwards throughout Clayoquot Sound and beyond, we wanted to know how this phenomenon was likely to be perceived by local 165 residents. This is not a clear cut issue. Despite northern First Nations’ experience, ecologists and many non-First Nations laypeople alike see the otters’ spread as a largely positive return to an earlier, more ‘natural,’ biodiverse equilibrium (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013, Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Gregr 2014). The otter’s return is also being vaunted by a range of interests as a golden opportunity for the local ecotourism industry (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2004, Loomis 2006). However, these positive assessments are relatively low-resolution, in that they do not highlight who is likely to immediately gain, and who is likely to immediately lose, from otters’ expansion. While ecological data suggest that the cascading effects of the otter’s presence are likely to increase both the density and diversity of some nearshore marine species populations (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Markel 2011), the ambiguities of current ecological models (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Gregr 2014) suggest that some projected effects—e.g., increased demersal fish abundance (Markel 2011), reduced edible shellfish abundance (Singh, et al. 2013, Watson and Estes 2011)—are more immediately certain to materialize than other, vaguely hypothesized effects—e.g., increased shelter for juvenile salmon or herring (Gregr 2014). If different groups of locals are found to value different things in their environment, these asymmetric certainties in the ecological models could translate into the perception of socially asymmetric benefits and losses from the so-called ‘trophic cascade’ (see Section 5.2) at the disaggregate level. The possibility of unequally distributed benefits and losses—be they real or perceived—intrigues us for two reasons. One, the importance of disaggregating who benefits and who loses from environmental change is a frequently mentioned but woefully under-studied 166 phenomenon in the conservation literature (Daw, et al. 2011). Two, relations amongst First Nations and multiple other stakeholders on the WCVI are already inherently tense (Okerlund 2007, Sullivan 2006, Schreiber and Newell 2006). In this light, divergent normative interpretations and perceived asymmetric benefits of the ongoing otter-driven ‘trophic cascade’ (see Section 5.2) threaten to further strain multistakeholder relations and hence impede effective, socially-inclusive management. In light of this complex social-ecological dynamic, we wished to apply methodical scrutiny to the question of what, exactly, local residents of Clayoquot Sound considered important about their local ecosystem as it stood, and why. With this information, we could then infer what the projected effects of the trophic cascade were likely to mean to various relevant stakeholders. To do this, we conducted a series of structured interviews both with a wide range of local residents and with a number of key government managers in the region. We elicited two specific sets of data from participants. First, we looked at how participants ranked the relative importance of multiple local species across various framings. Second, we looked at how participants appeared to conceptualize ‘ecosystem services’ in Clayoquot Sound—i.e., the things that ‘nature’ ‘provides’ and ‘does’ for people (Daily 1997). We then proceeded to ask participants to rank those items in terms of relative importance, as well. As we detail below, we observed stark contrasts amongst the responses of different demographic groups. In combination with predictive uncertainties surrounding the longer-term ecological effects of otters’ resurgence (Gregr 2014, Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011), these 167 demographic differences suggest substantial asymmetries in who will perceive the most immediate benefits—versus who will perceive the most immediate losses—as otters continue their expansion throughout the wider ecosystem. Below, we first provide a basic account of the dynamics of the study site (Section 5.2), followed by a description of our interview methods (Section 5.3). After outlining the logic of our analytical approach (Sections 5.4.1 and 5.4.2), we then present our findings in the order that the respective interview questions were asked (Sections 5.4.3 to 5.4.7), followed by a discussion of the findings as a whole (Section 5.5). We conclude with a reflection on the implications of our results, both for Clayoquot Sound, as well as for future work on the elicitation of disaggregated environmental values data and its integration into multistakeholder management. 5.2 A trophic cascade in Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Sea otters were once common throughout the coastal north Pacific. However, owing to their prized pelts, they were hunted intensely throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in their complete eradication from the WCVI by 1929 (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). When the sea otters disappeared, one of their main prey—sea urchins—began to balloon in numbers. Sea urchins, in turn, subsist almost entirely off of kelp. The result of the sea otters’ extirpation was therefore a major shift from a nearshore ecosystem dominated by biodiverse kelp beds, to one characterized by ‘urchin-barrens’: large patches of the sea floor replete with urchins, but relatively bereft of kelp beds and the associated plethora of marine 168 life that dwells amongst them (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Wilmers, et al. 2012, Markel 2011). This new, latter ecological regime also meant decreased trophic pressure on a range of shellfish and other edible invertebrates once preyed on by otters, including abalone, mussels, dungeness crab and multiple varieties of clams, chitons, and barnacles. Along with sea urchins themselves, these species thus came to play an increasingly important role in the diets of local people over the 19th to 20th centuries. This was particularly true for the surviving Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations, whose access to other fisheries was drastically reduced over time, as the British colonial and later Canadian governments limited these indigenous communities to ever-more circumscribed “Indian reserves” with ever-more restricted access to their traditional fishing grounds (Harris 2008). In the early 1970s, however, the social-ecological system once again began to shift. From 1969 to 1972, Canada’s federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans worked with the United States government to transplant a small population of otters from a nuclear testing zone in Alaskan waters, to the remote northwest corner of Vancouver Island (Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2013). This was done without local First Nations’ consultation. What has followed is known as a ‘trophic cascade’: sea otters began to once again prey heavily on sea urchins, thus releasing kelp from trophic pressure, and changing the nearshore ecological regime from one dominated by urchin barrens, back to one dominated by thick, habitat-forming kelp beds (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Markel 2011). 169 At the same time, otters—the only marine mammal without blubber—have to consume nearly 25% of their bodyweight daily merely to survive the cold north Pacific waters (Jessup, et al. 2004). Thus, in addition to rapidly eating through the most easily accessible urchin populations, the reintroduced otters began to prey on the very marine invertebrates that over the past century had become cultural and caloric staples of the local Nuu-Chah-Nulth. Since then, the otter population has boomed, and is now rapidly expanding southwards. In the spring of 2012, we thus began research in the Clayoquot Sound region, the most densely and diversely populated segment of WCVI, located approximately 140km south of where the otters were first introduced. Earlier political strife over forest resources in the region was largely quelled in 2000, with government acceptance of the conclusions of a specially appointed scientific panel that examined the ecological sensitivity of the area (Lertzman and Vredenburg 2005). At that point, Clayoquot Sound was declared a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ by UNESCO, and a trust was established by the Canadian government to help fund sustainable development projects in the region. Biosphere reserves are a unique form of protected area in a number of important ways. First, they are given their title and demarcation by the United Nations, but are proposed and enacted domestically. Second, biosphere reserves—of which there were a global total of 621 in 2014 (UNESCO 2013)—are not protected areas in the pure sense, but are rather identified as spaces ideal for experimenting with a range of different economic and people-centered conservationist activities in a quest for sustainability (Jaeger 2005, UNESCO-MAB 2008). 170 As such, in 2008, UNESCO’s Man the Biosphere program (MAB), which oversees the global network of biosphere reserves, began to explicitly champion the use of an anthropocentric ‘ecosystem services’ framework for balancing development and conservation in each reserve (UNESCO-MAB 2008). The purpose behind this push was both to ensure further consistency between UNEP and UNESCO in terms of aims and nomenclature, as well as to allow for greater ease of comparison and contrast across the wider biosphere reserve network (UNESCO-MAB 2008). Given this pre-suggested rubric, we were interested in exploring just what, exactly, such an approach could mean in practice, in situ, in Clayoquot Sound. Ecosystem services are commonly defined as the benefits rendered to people by nature (or, alternatively the processes that render such benefits, specifically) (Daily 1997, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). As such, the concretization of these phenomena hinges directly both on humans’ perceptions and on humans’ ‘values’ (whether they be perceived and explicit, or deduced and implicit). Given this, we chose to structure our investigation largely around the question of what locals perceived, or otherwise disclosed, as being important to them in their environment. However, being skeptical of any unidimensionality (Chan, Satterfield and Goldstein 2012)—let alone the ontological and contextual robustness (Warren, McGraw and Van Boven 2011)—of such ‘values,’ we were also keen to investigate how these values varied, both across individuals and groups, as well as across different framings of similar questions. Ultimately, we combined this inquiry with our interest in exploring potential social asymmetries using the methods we describe below. 171 5.3 Methods The primary methodological tool we applied in the field was a structured interview protocol involving a number of listing and sorting tasks (see below). We ran this protocol with a variety of Clayoquot-region residents and government managers. To achieve as broad and diverse a sampling of the resident population as possible, we recruited local interviewees by several means: advertisements on various local poster boards, word of mouth, placement of information cards with contact information in stores around the local towns of Tofino and Ucluelet and, in the case of interviews within First Nations communities themselves, personal introductions by the relevant tribal authorities. The interviews were conducted at a place of the participants’ choosing. These sites ranged from personal residences, to public cafés, to local NGO offices. Questions progressed sequentially from the relatively broad, to the relatively specific. Participants were first asked to state their name, where they were from, how long they had lived in the Clayoquot region and, if they were comfortable sharing, their year of birth and their occupation(s). To cue thoughts about the local region, we then asked the participants to describe to us the things they most liked and disliked about living and working there. Next, all participants were provided with an identical set of coloured pens, and a notepad, and were asked to visually depict for us “where [it was] they live and/or work.” The drawings were then photographed and digitally stored for later analysis. 172 At this point in the interview, we would begin to ask participants to make lists of various sorts. Participants were initially asked to verbally list “as many species and/or resources they could think of on the west coast of Vancouver Island.” As they did so, we requested that participants write the name of each species or resource down on small individual cards in the order that they came to mind. Once this order had been recorded, we then asked participants to engage in a number of ranking tasks. First, we asked participants to choose an approximate top five to ten species from their list that were “especially important to them, personally.” We then encouraged participants to order that sub-selection from most important to least important. This task, while intellectually or morally difficult for some people, was made somewhat more straightforward by virtue of the fact that each species had already been written down on a card, which participants were then free to physically move around on the table as needed. After recording their top five to 10 most personally important species in rank order, we encouraged participants to share the rationale behind their rankings. Some participants were comfortable and able to proffer explanations, while others were not. We then changed pace slightly, and asked participants to choose and rank the top five to 10 “tastiest” species from the list, as a measure of subjective food preference. After this, we followed the same pattern, requesting that participants rank their selections. We then asked participants to provide a similar ordered list of the top five to 10 most “valuable” species, once again encouraging them to describe their rationale. Sometimes participants would immediately come up with their own definition of ‘value’ and order their chosen species accordingly. Others would proceed to ask us what ‘kind’ of value we meant, to which we would reply encouragingly 173 with the question “What kinds of value can you think of?” Often, people mentioned economic value, and proceeded to make and rank a selection as such. Regularly, however, participants would combine multiple different kinds, or ‘dimensions’ (Chan, Satterfield and Goldstein 2012), of value (e.g., personal, economic, communal) into a single ranking. Some participants explained their rationale as they were completing the ranking, while others tendered a post hoc explanation only after they had completed their ranking. Next, we asked participants for another top five to 10 ranking, this time on the basis of ‘ecological value,’ which, when necessary, we elaborated upon further as meaning species or resources that were “important for the functioning of the local ecosystem.” Following this, we led into questions that dealt more directly with the notion of ‘ecosystem services.’ While avoiding use of the somewhat unfamiliar term ‘ecosystem services,’ we asked people to make a list of “the things that nature does for people, or gives people, here on the west coast of Vancouver Island.” Participants rarely stated more than five services, each of which they wrote down on a separate small card, as with the previous freelisting task. Similarly, we then asked participants to rank those ‘things’ (i.e., ecosystem services), in order from most to least important, providing us, when possible, with a rationale of their ranking. Next, we wished to examine participants’ knowledge and values surrounding sea otters and kelp beds. We asked participants “what can you tell me about sea otters?” After they had shared some of their knowledge and beliefs, which we coaxed with further questions when necessary, we then followed with “and what can you tell me about kelp, or [as they are often called locally] kelp forests?” 174 After participants had shared their beliefs about otters and kelp, we then proceeded to ask them which of two scenarios they would personally prefer: (a) more otters, more kelp, less shellfish, or (b) less otters, less kelp, more shellfish. Once they stated their preference, we once again encouraged participants to explain their rationale.54 In total, we interviewed 71 individuals. Four of these participants were government managers, who for the purposes of this paper we regard as a separate group altogether due to our prior working relationships with them. This leaves a total of 67 citizen interviewees, ranging from the ages of 20 to 80. There were 29 females, and 38 males. 41 participants self-identified as non-First Nations, while the remaining 26 were self-identified First Nations, primarily from the Ahousaht and Toquaht nations, with a few participants from the Tla-oh-qui-aht and Yuułuʔiłʔath nations. Participants from the latter two nations granted interviews outside of their communities, in Tofino and Ucluelet proper, while interviews with the former were conducted on tribally-administered lands. All participants were offered financial compensation for their time at a rate of CAD$15 per hour. 5.4 Results 5.4.1 Logic of analysis As mentioned in Section 5.1, a primary aim of our method was to generate a meaningful impression of Clayoquot Sound residents’ stated environmental ‘values.’ Using those results, 54 Finally, we followed this first part of this protocol with a number of similarly structured questions pertaining, amongst other things, to trophic and classificatory relationships amongst species, and to human actors in the system. The results of these questions are reported in other papers (e.g., Chapter 6). 175 we could then confer with projections from ecological models (Espinosa-Romero, et al. 2011, Gregr 2014) to approximate how these stated values were likely to be affected by the impending trophic cascade. In addition to this first-cut level of analysis, we were also curious to see what degree of (in)consistency existed across answers to the differently-framed questions relating to relative values. In other words, did asking people which species were personally important to them yield significantly different results from asking them which species were most valuable, or most desirable as food? If such framing effects were large, we were curious to consider the implications of these framing or ‘dimensionality’ (Chan, Satterfield and Goldstein 2012) effects for community-centered conservation on WCVI, and for conceptual approaches to people-centered environmental management in general. Achieving a demographic disaggregation of projected benefits and losses was also a key impetus for our analysis. In other words, we wanted to know whether there were any notable differences in stated environmental values amongst or between sub-groups. Apart from being an important, if potentially divisive, research question in its own right (Daw, et al. 2011), we also posed it for a contextually specific reason. Namely, if our data suggested such differences do indeed exist, this could mean that certain groups of people may have a systematically and predictably harder time adapting to the otters’ spread than others. Due to the pivotal centrality of marine resources for local residents’ economic and dietary subsistence on the WCVI, the answer to this question has important implications both for social justice and for 176 multistakeholder management in the politically and ecologically contested region (Lillard 2013, Okerlund 2007, Schreiber and Newell 2006, Sullivan 2006). 5.4.2 To disaggregate or not to disaggregate While we did have a clear logic for investigating disaggregate benefits and losses, we did not want to assume a priori that we knew who constituted which subgroups, or if statistically meaningful subgroups could be said to exist at all. Based on earlier ethnographic work we had conducted in the remote northwest corner of WCVI, where sea otters were first reintroduced decades ago, it seemed likely to us that First Nations’ and non-First Nations’ values would differ in systematic ways. However, we did not want to base an analysis around this demographic marker on mere speculation. Thus, we conducted a statistical test on participants’ answers to the most pivotal and clearly interpretable question in our survey: whether people preferred a scenario involving more otters, or less otters. To do this, we conducted a binary logistic regression of otter preference on three demographic variables: age (a continuous variable), gender and First Nations status (both dichotomous variables). The results were stark: neither age nor gender were significantly predictive of otter preference, but the odds of non-First Nations favouring more, rather than less, otters, was 10 times greater than that of First Nations, OR = 0.10 (CI 0.022-0.447). This finding was highly significant (p=.003). Given these exploratory results, we deemed it worthwhile to further examine differences between First Nations and non-First Nations participants’ responses at the group 177 level. However, we also noticed a second demographic pattern emerge in the course of our interviews. When participants were asked to visually depict their local environment (see Section 5.3), men seemed much more likely to draw maps, and describe spa
UBC Theses and Dissertations
An even less convenient truth : addressing the challenge of sustainable development through an integration… Levine, Jordan 2014
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