For the symposium, Nature Needs More spoke about our research on regarding the final step in a demand reduction strategy, namely redirecting desire; specifically how to gain status from contribution to the natural world not from its consumption.
The new form of magnificence cannot necessary be based on empathy or compassion. Historically magnificence was based on status and implied obligation, and the link was broadly accepted. Anything based solely on compassion with nature cannot be broadly accepted as yet, we are still in the process of increasing our distance from nature through urbanization. For now we must also accept that status and hence luxury consumption for status gain are tribal – meaning is conveyed primarily to the ‘in-group’. Creating a new form of status differentiation means creating a new hierarchy of contribution that is meaningful to the tribe and seen as a public good by the wider population.
Why Venice? The rhino and Venice have a curiously entwined history and present day predicament. The rhino is represented in one of the city’s most ancient mosaics, and also an eighteenth-century touring rhino is famously depicted in the city’s art. Now the rhino and Venice are both under threat from their status as luxuries. Rhino’s as a result of the current, destructive pseudo-luxury market that evolves from the desire for social differentiation and Venice, as a growing consumer class desire luxury travel experiences.