The big shift in thinking about our impacts you suggest looks to me to have some interesting features. What seems hard for me, though, is finding an inviting way to lead people into thinking about the problems their solutions will later create.
Finding “solutions” usually results in there no longer seeming to be a problem (!) so we solidify our emotional connections to it and take the issue “off our to-do list”. Once you arrive at a “solution” revisiting it is itself a problem, but that’s just when nature begins her own continuous revisiting of it.
I think that points to a fascinating aspect of how deep our problem is and why we’re having such difficulty. We’re having to learn how nature resolves things.
What we’ve been using is an ancient practice of “fix it and forget it”. It’s what we used since we were hunter-gatherers, as our standard planning model, and it’s failing.
The apparent reason is the present scale of our intrusions into natural systems, and our having followed a “fix it and forget it” plan to continually add to the scale of our intrusions at increasing rates for centuries.
If solutions have become the problem, we really can’t take them off our to-do lists any more. We’d need to provide stewardship for them to their natural end, learning to do what nature used to do for us but is now no longer able to.
I’m not sure what would make it attractive to people. One good approach is to think of the life cycle of an intervention as it’s natural end, and define that as a new planning horizon.
That both expands the scope of questions and limits them by defining a new boundary for “fix it and forget it”. Any effective intervention begins small and multiplies, but that’s when it’s impacts really begin.
It’s natural end is then whether it leads to stabilizing or collapsing the natural systems it takes part in. To start doing what we have relied on nature to do for us we’d learn to look “over the hill” to a natural end of any innovation’s effects.
When people are scheming solutions they don’t generally do that, at all. That’s what leads me to my “bomb thrower” metaphor. What we normally think problems are solved solved by is planting a seed of multiplying changes, a bomb thrown into our environment.
As soon as we get something to multiply,
we pat ourselves on the back and walk away! ;- )