Picture an environmental or wildlife activist. Draw a mental picture and think about the major features that stand out. I am willing to place a bet that a sharp suit is not one of these features.
So, why is this? Why are conservation activists as well as conservationists themselves often associated with, well, the picture above? It is down to a couple of factors; the first is association. We associate activism with confrontationalism and we associate ‘green activism’ with a certain image and attitude. The second is that we don’t see many alternatives. The media narrative surrounding protest is often narrow in scope and lacks balance. There are many well reasoned and persuasive voices in conservation, but their arguments are all too often eclipsed by those who strike a more belligerent note. Whilst indignance is understandable, it's often only sensation that sells and that's not constructive.
To me, conservation needs to shake off the shackles of stereotypical protest and confrontationalism. More to the point, conservation and activism, can now set themselves apart from these stereotypes.
The need to do so is urgent, there is very little time left for us to take decisive, tangible action to halt climate change. If we want to achieve change we must act in a different manner; let’s take off our sandals and put on our suits.
Conservation and environmentalism is not only the ethically and morally sound choice to make but, crucially, it is the sensible and potentially profitable business decision. The New Scientist reports that every dollar spent on ecosystem restoration can yield up to $75 in return. That’s a good investment to even the most vehemently sceptical climate change doubter.
So, how do we go about changing the perception of activism? It is simple, support those who are proving the point. Renewable energy and ethical finance are two sectors seeing strong market growth and we have more choices here now than ever before. Support their message of business conscious environmentalism and get others around you to do the same.
Ask yourself,what's the main difference between a protest movement and an ethical business? The answer, more often than not, is that one is highlighting just the problem. The other is highlighting both the problem and the solution.
I’m extremely proud to be partnering with businesses such as Octopus Energy on my North Pole expedition. We’re going to be highlighting the problems climate change is posing to the Arctic and the world through scientific research, film and stunning imagery. However, just as importantly, we're going to be showing how you, and those around you, can take decisive action to find positive solutions that work equally well for people and planet.
If you agree with my views on how conservation needs to change, try to convert someone in your own network to think and act a little bit differently.
The next time that you make a financial decision, consider making an environmentally conscious one and ask others to do the same. You don’t have to organise an expedition to the North Pole, we just need to give others the solution.
I write, positively, about wildlife and environmental conservation with an emphasis on the need for action and how we can save the planet. Building on my North Pole expedition I will write about adventure and exploration with a view to how it can benefit you, your business and achieving your own goals