Posted by: chrismaser | August 17, 2011




Chris Maser and Carol Pollio


A One far wiser than I has stated that, “the brotherhood of the well-intentioned exists even though it is impossible to organize it anywhere.” This book epitomizes the above statement. Resolving Environmental Conflicts contains new ideas about an important subject, and defines a new paradigm as to how we must begin to think about they we live, the way we use our resources, and the way we interact with our fellow humans and other life forms within our biosphere.

Over the last 60 years or so, our environmental consciousness has been raised considerably. Rachel Carson warned us in “Silent Spring” that our actions have dyer consequences. Nevertheless, we have enjoyed the fruits of our industrial production with relative abandon, but at a cost of unsustainable consumption of resources and perhaps the irreversible poisoning of our environment. Despite our rampant consumerism, however, a worldwide environmental movement was born, our consciousness was raised, and we began to understand some of the unrealized costs of our miraculous “progress” as we lept boldly into a “brave new world” of plenty and prosperity.

Simply put, Resolving Environmental Conflicts is a working manual for those involved in mediation. It discusses techniques and methods of mediation, provides principles useful for understanding the milieu of environmental conflicts, and examines the varying responsibilities of the participant parties to the mediation process. It also lays the foundation for arriving at cooperative solutions to unresolved environmental dilemmas. The specialist reader will appreciate the readiness of the work in describing the difficulty of the process and the importance of the outcomes sought. Being considerably more than a “how to” directive, the book examines the “whys” of the mediation process and broadens the knowledge base by providing the philosophical underpinnings of “a new environmental responsibility.” This broadening aspect makes the work of instant value not only to raising the consciousness of the responsible citizen in critical aspects of social-environmental sustainability but also by training the mediator in the art of bringing environmental conflicts to sustainable conclusions.

“Since the Middle Ages, we have had exceptionally good weather, allowing improvements in agriculture, combined with advances in our sciences. Our human population bourgeoned in this abundance, and we have eradicated many common diseases that long plagued humankind. Advances in manufacturing, transportation, medicine, hygiene, and healthcare have all combined to bring our species to a position of preeminence on this planet. Moreover, we have even begun some small steps toward leaving our earthly confines and exploring the greater universe beyond our planetary home. This progress has been marvelous, nee breathtaking. Unfortunately, it actually does take our breath away because we have so polluted the air and water that we are suffering unprecedented rates of environmentally related ailments in addition to rendering numbers of sensitive species of both plants and animals nearly extinct within one human lifetime.

The authors provide an irrefutable truth for the potential mediator to consider: The children of today, tomorrow, and beyond are unheralded participants in every environmental mediation that takes place. They, who have no voice, are the ultimate recipients of our largess and our folly as well as our wisdom, and must be considered in the environmental bequest we pass forward. Our natural patrimony is neither unlimited nor indestructible. It must be accounted for in light of sustainment, efficient use, and careful nurturing. The commonwealth has need for a healthy biosphere into the indefinite future and our husbanding of resources, conservation of nature, and protection of our environment are priorities that must become part of the body politic, the common culture, and our economic order if this planet is to continue as our home. Our longevity as a species is directly related to our willingness to conserve our environment. To be successful, it must to be a collective task.

When nuclear weapons appeared during the last century, J. Robert Oppenheimer quoted the Hindu scripture as the first atomic bomb was being tested: “Behold, I have become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Thousands of these weapons were stockpiled during the cold war, and now we have begun to realize the futility of a weapon too terrible to use. Our security is not enhanced, and our resulting instability is something that should frighten any sane individual. At least in this one regard there is almost universal agreement that nuclear weapons must be eliminated from the world’s arsenals because their unmanageable destructive power has made them an anathema. The call to eliminate nuclear weapons was perhaps our first global step in prescribing our environmental priority and choosing to protect the natural environment in recognition of our bid for survival.

Over 95 percent of all the scientist who ever lived are alive today, and we are told by some that the polar ice caps are shrinking at an alarming rate, the great ocean currents responsible for our weather are diminished, and the oceans are undergoing substantial chemical changes. In addition, the ozone layer in the Southern hemisphere is being rapidly depleted with serious consequences, 9 of the past 15 years are the warmest in recorded history, the warming of the globe has spawned more frequent and severe tropical storms, and all of these things will have combined, detrimental effects on plant and animal life on the planet. Yet, all this scientific knowledge has not convinced us to recognize that the immutable laws of nature cannot be suspended or put in abeyance to protect the profits of the unconcerned, the interests of the uncaring, or even the health and welfare of the unaware.

Nearly all of the reputable graduate programs in public policy and law schools in this country offer courses in environmental policy and law, but these courses stress comprehensive regulations, balancing economic interests within communities. In addition, they allow limited degradation of the planetary resources to mitigate particularized losses to balance sheets and minimize balanced uses of scarce resources, which are sought within the confines of a competitive economy. But, none of these requisites recognize the inviolable biophysical principles of nature, prioritize the use of limited resources accordingly, or consider the deleterious effects of toxic wastes.

We must begin to understand a new paradigm, and this book is a seminal text to use in beginning to teach this paradigm to personnel at all levels of government. The increasing unwillingness to change personal values and lifestyles until forced to do so has been a hallmark of humankind since the inception of agriculture and civilization, but we have reached a point at which change is increasingly being forced upon us. This book points us in that direction by examining the parameters of that change and meets out some of the skills necessary to traverse the intensifying global imbroglio. I predict it will become a standard text for training public officials, environmental specialists, and mediators and will be the subject of informed conversations for some time to come.

J. Holmes Armstead, J.D., Ph.D., LL.D., D.Litt., D.H.L.(hc)
Professor, US Naval War College (ret.)
Monterey, California.


“Even when faced by compelling need to act in order to support the health of our planet, and simultaneously in support of our human communities and economic wellbeing, we are paralyzed by intractable environmental disputes. Only the human species saddles itself with high-conflict, low-cooperation, and maladaptive strategies and behaviors, perhaps because the stakes are so high in that our survival as a species, and that of so many other species, is at stake.

“Seasoned veterans Chris Maser and Carol Pollio take us on a visit to our planet’s 21st Century frontier — effective resolution of environmental conflicts. They make a clear case for our adaptive social evolution: Transform ourselves and live. Fail to transform ourselves and die.

“In well-written, unequivocal language, they map a way forward — a pattern of thought, ethic, word, relationship mending, and action — that can only help us save our planet and, thereby, ourselves.

“I found two chapters especially noteworthy. The first, ‘Social Principles of Engagement in a Sustainable Society’, proposes change in thought and values that, if we internalize them, can only help us reframe our behaviors and actions and propel us towards sustainable relationships with people and nature.

“The second is ‘Conflict Is a Learning Partnership.’ Here the authors thoroughly develop the reader’s understanding of the mediator’s role as an actor in the healing service to others. Too often we experience mediators wedded to urgency and process, or acting with bias for a particular outcome or participant. Maser and Pollio correctly cast the mediator’s role as a fundamentally spiritual one: first as facilitator of healed relationships, then as nurturer and keeper of positive outcomes created by others.

“If you want to save the planet, read this gracefully written book.”

James A. Caplan
Veteran of 30 years working with environmental conflicts,
most of it as a senior administrator for the U.S. Forest Service (Retired).
Author of The Theory and Principles of Environmental Dispute Resolution (2010) and The Practice of Environmental Dispute Resolution (2010).
Roseburg, Oregon.

“From the “down and dirty” (who can shout the loudest?) to the cerebral (the Law of Cosmic Unification), Maser and Pollio’s Resolving Environment Conflict has something for everyone involved in negotiating, mediating, and resolving disputes. I have spent almost forty years in the conflict resolution arena and thought I knew it all until Chris and Carol forced me to look in the ‘coping-mechanism’ mirror only to see my own dispute resolution weaknesses staring back. A must read!”

Michael J. Bartlett,
President of New Hampshire Audubon,
Field Supervisor, US Fish and Wildlife Service
New England Field Office (retired)

Resolving Environmental Conflicts. Second Edition. 2011. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

If you want more information about this book or want to purchase it, visit “BOOKS” on my website.

Text © by Chris Maser 2011. All rights reserved.

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If you want to contact me, you can visit my website. If you wish, you can also read an article about what is important to me and/or you can listen to me give a presentation.

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