We are all Environmentalists now: Debating Rationality Amongst Mining Developers and Conservationists in Exmouth, Western Australia
It has been suggested (Milton 2002) that ‘cultural expressions of cold, commercial rationality [could be seen] as smoke screens which hide the emotional nature of attachment to market interests.’ Such supposedly cold and rational arguments are regularly put forth by mining developers in disputes over the protection of the environment and nearby communities. This is particularly the case in the proposed development of a salt mine in Exmouth Gulf, opposite one of Western Australia’s prime tourism destinations- North West Cape and the Ningaloo Reef. Using a case study of a community reference group meeting in which environmental campaigners and engineers come into conflict over the concept of wilderness, I argue that rationality is not so much a smokescreen, but a means through which conservationists and mining developers alike “filter” or “sort through” their emotions in order to develop ideas and arguments when interacting with each other.
Keywords: Emotion, Rationality, Environmentalism, Mining
PhD Student, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Western Australia