Monday, October 14, 2019

Social Psychology and the Sustainable Future Essay Example for Free

Social Psychology and the Sustainable Future Essay What has Global warming, Ozone Layer Depletion, Soil Erosion, Air Pollution, Carbon Emissions, and other environmental issues have to do with Social Psychology? One of the reasons for writing this paper, is to answer that question by showing the relationship between the environment in which we live and social psychology. I will endeavor to do this by looking at a root cause behind our ecological dilemma, as well as offering possible solutions and suggestions for social behavioral changes that each one of us could employ, as not only caring human beings, but as Christians fulfilling our God-given mandate to rule over the earth He created in the capacity of caretakers and stewards. As explained by Dr.  David G Myers in his excellent book entitled Exploring Social Psychology, the study of social psychology is a study in which social psychologists scientifically explore how we as humans think about, influence, and relate to one another [ Myers 2009 p. 1]. He goes on to quote novelist Herman Melville’s poignant observation, which states, we cannot live for ourselves alone, for our lives are connected by 1000 invisible threads [Myers 2009 p. 1]. And therein lies the root cause of our ecological problems. Because of our social orientation [being our personality psychology or psychodynamics which forms our worldview by the way weve been taught to think and act within the society in which we grew up], most people and societies, if not all, are inherently self-centered. A perfect example of this societal self-centeredness is clearly seen here in the United States of America, more so than in any other place in the world. The unrestrained, unbridled, and unprecedented consumerism and waste has sadly become this countries social norm. Generally speaking, we as humans, tend to give little thought, either intentionally or unintentionally, about how our attitude, actions, and behaviors might affect others in the society in which we live: or for that matter, the rest of the world. Because our lives are connected by 1000 invisible threads, our attitude, behavior, and actions cannot help but effect others. We are connected in many different ways, but primarily we are connected by being members of one and the same human race, sharing an earth which we all call home. Therefore, social psychology and the sustainable future of our environment are connected in the sense that as human beings, sharing the same earth, social psychologist can positively influence societies to bring about change through implementing strategies within a society through educational and other means, that would address the need for other-centeredness, as opposed to self-centeredness within our societies. This hopefully, through educational campaigns, would over time alter social norms throughout global societies, and help to positively shape our attitudes, behaviors and actions toward the environment in which we live, and encourage a more sustainable environmental future. The purpose of environmental education, is to bring social awarenessof how each individuals attitude actions and behavior, can and does have an environmental affect [whether positive or negative], not only themselves and their own environment, but on the environment of others also. So, environmentally speaking, this means that each individual person, group, society and nations environmental habits and lifestyle [which is mainly guided by the social normsof the country and the culture in which they are living], can have a global environmental impact. Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 4 Social, psychologically formed thought processes, cause individuals and groups within a society or culture, to behave in ways that are considered normal to them, even though theyre ttitude, behavior and actions are environmentally devastating. One of the ways I can illustrate the fact of how our attitudes, behaviors, and actions [another words what we do and how we live], can and does affect others environment [even though they may be living on the other side of the world], is by looking at the worldwide issues of air pollution and its causes. Air is something that every living thing needs, as the famous 70s hit song sung by the British groupThe Hollies states, all I need is the air that I breathe. Another translation of that song humorously states I need to be able to breathe. That we need air to breathe is an axiom, a self evident truth, for without it we die. In actual fact, air is one of the reasons why Earth is the only planet within our solar system that can sustain life, and in which life can be found. Air supports life, but the air has to be clean for life to be sustained. We dont really need to be told that the air is polluted these days because we can see it. This is especially true if you happen to live in the city of Los Angeles, which for many years has been the butt of smog jokes, and recently topped the American lung Associations bad air list of most polluted cities in America [GMA news 2012]. Why is the air polluted so badly? How did it get that way? The city of Los Angeles, like many other places in the world today are to a great degree responsible for producing much of the bad air in their cities. However, bad air is now being found in cities and other places where there is no air polluting factories or industry to blame. This is because air pollution does not recognize international boundaries, and like the proverbial trapeze artists, pollution in the form of toxic emissions can and do fly through the air with the greatest of ease. Because of this, bad air has turned up in places where it did not originate; such as National Parks and wilderness areas in remote parts of the United States. This is due to the fact that one countries air polluting practices can have a dramatic effect on another countries air quality located on the other side of the world. Toxic pollutants and emissions rise from factory smokestacks, power plants, and exhaust emissions , from countries who have no clean air act and therefore are under no threat of penalty or prosecution for noncompliance. These toxic emissions, are the result of unrestrained air polluting practices by countries who show little or no interest in environmental conservation. This toxic pollution rises into the wind currents and jet-streams, which carry the poisonous air hundreds, or even thousands of miles away to another part of the world, where it then affects the air quality of the place where it settles, creating health hazards and pollution within that cities population and location. So, the irresponsible polluting behavior and actions of one group/country, can have a drastic negative effect on another person/s, group/s, country/or countries, causing them to suffer debilitating health hazard consequences for which they were not responsible in creating. So you see in this one small illustration, how another person/s, group/s, or even other countries irresponsible attitude, actions, and behavior toward environmental conservation issues, can inadvertently and negatively affect another person/s, group/s, or even a whole countrys populations health and well being. Many first world countries have environmental laws that heavily penalize companies for noncompliance, and therefore helps to limits air pollution to varying degrees. Yet there are more countries who dont have any environmental laws, restrictions, or boundaries in place, and who Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 6 do not recognize or practice environmental conservation. And so these developing countries by their who cares, its business as usual attitude and behavior, become one of the major contributors of bad air on a global scale, through their uncontrolled, unrestrained, release of toxic emissions into the atmosphere where it becomes an international traveler. However, air pollution caused by toxic emissions is only one of the environmental concerns facing humanity today. Another environmental concern, which we are being constantly reminded of through the news reports, newspapers, Internet, etc. is the issue of global warming. This is also known as climate change. Scientists use the name, or term global warming, so as to identify what types of climate change is actually happening i. e. , the planet is not getting cooler but warmer, ergo, global warming. One of the reasons they state this is happening is due to the excessive amount of a gas known as CO2. This is carbon dioxide, which is something that we, after taking in oxygen through the air, actually exhale. While CO2 is an odorless, tasteless, inert gas, it is also a byproduct of combustion, which is generally contributed to automobile emissions. However, while CO2 is a byproduct of automotive engine gasoline/diesel/natural gas combustion, it is also a byproduct of combustion associated with the burning of coal and oil to generate electricity and heat buildings. In fact, anything that burns will have CO2 as one of its emission byproducts. Because of the increase of automobiles, trucks, factories, etc. here is an excessive amount of carbon dioxide constantly being released into the atmosphere. Along with the deforestation of whole rainforests [note: trees absorb CO2 gases and convert CO2 into oxygen by the process of photosynthesis. This is one of Gods brilliant ideas for replenishing the oxygen we use. However, by cutting down all the trees in the forest, were destroying the eart hs Co2 converter], Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 7 and the combination of other greenhouse gases , which come from agricultural and industrial sources, global warming is the result. However, there is also another detrimental effect of having too much CO2 in the air that has to do with ones respiratory health, and is known by a condition called hypoxia, or hypoxiation. [West, 1995 p. 22] This is a pathological condition in which the body as a whole, or region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. This is due to the fact that the body is deprived of oxygen because CO2 in the lungs is inhibited from being released, and so accumulates causing too much CO2 to be where oxygen needs to be, and therefore death ensues as a result. West, 1995 pp. 22]. The use of CO2 displacing oxygen is great for firefighting is actually a preferred fire extinguisher in place of chemical powder for distinguishing fires, but its no good for breathing. The world climate is changing because CO2 is in excess, and humans are the reason why it is so. So far weve looked at some causes of air pollution and how it can originate from one part of the the world and through air currents e ffect everybody globally. But in discussing social psychology in the sustainable future air pollution is only one component of many. There are many environmental concerns for a sustainable future, which also include water pollution. Just as we need clean air to survive, so also we need clean water for both drinking and food. In actual fact, it is quite possible for a person to go many days and even weeks without food, but only a few days without water. Clean water is essential for drinking as well as sustaining aquatic and marine life in our rivers and oceans. However, with the high human demand for oil, environmental catastrophes and disasters such as the Exxon-Valdez oil spilloff the coast of Alaska in 1989, and most recently the BP oil Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 8 spill of 2010, have polluted the life-sustaining ocean waters and left a path of ecological destruction, which much like the fallout from an nuclear bomb, may take forever, if ever, to recover. Even now as I write this, were told by BP officials and their advertising campaigns, that the waters in the Gulf are back to pre-oil spill status. However, a recent study reported by Brian Williams on NBC national news states that marine life such as dolphins are seriously ill and due to health problems consistent with exposure to oil. Illness ranging from lung disease, kidney malfunctions and liver disease has been found throughout dolphin population which cause has been attributed to the ingesting of oil [NBC nightly news March 23 2012]. Basically what were being told through the million-dollar advertising campaign by BP, is not true. We are still reaping the consequences caused by the massive oil spill where oil spewed out from the ground unrestrained for months. On top of water pollution, the sea is being devastated daily by the huge nets and Longlines of commercial fishing vessels. Longline fishing is a commercial fishing technique. It uses a long line called the main line which can be up to 50 miles long, with thousands of baited hooks attached at intervals of approximately every 20 yards. Hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks can hang from a single line. Although Longliners commonly target tuna, cod, halibut, unfortunately a baited hook is not very selective and many other species are caught and killed inadvertently. This is very troublesome, especially for those animals, mammals, and fish species that are on the endangered list, i. e. The Leatherback Sea Turtle. [Seaturtles. org 2003] Can you imagine a 50 mile long fishing line with corks set at every 20 yards, or huge Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 8 dragnets, scraping the bottom of the sea for its fish, crap, shrimp and other marine life. This is all done to fulfill the growing populations appetite for seafood. Yet he growing need for bigger harvest is only one part of this very important ecological problem. Another part is the damage that is caused by the implements used in harvesting. I have personally seen the damage to the bottom of the sea caused by the nets being used to harvest fish from along the bottom of the sea beds. These nets are called drag-nets for good reason, as they scrape the bottom of the oceans floor so that nothing escapes. As they scrape along the bottom of the sea, they drag every kind of a marine life you can imagine into the net. The ocean floor then looks like its just been plowed. Thus, these drag-nets leave behind a path of destruction in their wake, by destroying all aquatic plants, and marine life forms and the environment in which they live. Another issue that is caused by fishing trawlers using dragnets, is waste. Nets are by no means selective as anything and everything gets caught in the net. Once these nets are hauled in, much of what is caught in the nets is not used, but thrown out for reasons of either being under size, wrong variety, or in some way illegal etc. Some of the seafood is kept, and the other is thrown out to die. The fish and marine species that are caught in the nets or on the long lines as a byproduct, sea turtles, including the extremely endangered Leatherback sea turtle, various sharks, including some species which are also endangered, and also others. Seeing there is no international laws to reduce bycatch, we can expect that many more species will be added to the endangered list as part of the long-term decline, caused by these devastating fishing practices. So apart from destroying the environment which sustains our fish and marine life in our oceans, rivers and waters through pollution, waste and harvesting practices, we continued the Psychology and Sustainable Future 9 devastation by overfishing the waters to to the extent that fish that were once found in abundance 50 years ago, are now at the point of extinction and have been placed on the endangered list. Two of the fish species I would like to talk about here were, up till recently, very common. One is the Atlantic cod, and the other the Giant Bluefin Tuna. These two fish species once abundantly populated the Atlantic Ocean until the implementation of gill nets, drag nets, and now the dreaded long-lines of commercial fishing vessels. In a relatively short amount of time, the use nets and long lines have devastated the cod and tuna populations worldwide through overfishing. Even though size limits and harvesting amounts have been supposedly set by international bodies, Atlantic Cod, Bluefin Tuna, and many other fish species are under the gun, and may never recover, especially the majestic bluefin tuna, which is much coveted by sushi chefs and is considered a delicacy in Japan. Maybe it is for this reason that Japan, under the guise of supposedly abiding by the international fishing laws, have reportedly and consistently ignored the international laws for size limits and harvesting amounts. Through their longline fishing vessel fleet have continued at a ever increasing rate to catch bluefin tuna, to the point that they, could be considered to be the major contributing factor, as to why this fish species is numerically declining to a point of having to be put on the endangered fish species list. [Glover, Charles. The End of the Line. 2008]. It is a well-known fact that the Mitsubishi Corporation. Not only owns several long line ships which go out to sea for months at a time and dont come back until their freezes are all full of bluefin tuna, but is the major purchaser of bluefin tuna. As well as fishing for bluefin tuna with their own fishing vessels. They have also been known to purchase as much bluefin tuna as they Social Psychology in the Sustainable Future 10 can, from other fishing vessels. These vessels are known as Pirate Fishing Vessels, ignore international fishing laws and catch all they can in what you might call an undercover operation. These pirate fishing vessels have, within the past 10 years, come under a lot of scrutiny by the Greenpeace organization: who sail the seas searching for these pirate fishing vessels so as to catch them in the act. Of illegal fishing, netting, long lining etc. [Greenpeace. org 2011]. Although many nations, including the United States, supposedly participate as international management bodies to maintain global tuna populations, the species continues to decline at an alarming rate and are now on top of the endangered species list because its numbers have depleted to such a point that it may never be able to recover. As you can tell air and water pollution combined with overfishing is a concern of mine, mainly because I see it is preventable, but for the selfish, self-centered, all-consuming greed of people from all walks of life I could continue on for quite some time, however I must bring this article assignment to a conclusion by talking about causes of environmental damage. As much as we like to blame tornadoes and hurricanes for most of the environmental damage, the biggest cause of environmental damage is man himself. Mankind is now the number one cause of all the destruction happening on Earth. We are the major cause of environmental disasters, beginning with the industrial exploitation of the resources of the Earth, which has become especially bad since the population of the Earth has trippled in the last fifty years to a point which, even with more efficient means of distribution, there is simply not enough food to go around. Obviously the reasons for the possible future scarcity of food, water, among other things, is the wasteful lifestyles that we have become accustomed to, especially here in the United States. All you need to do is look around in any restaurant here in the United States and see the huge Social Psychology and a Sustainable Future 11 amounts of food being thrown out in the trashcan while people on the other side of the world starve. Its been noted in the book, exploring social psychology by David G Myers, that the human demand for things such as land, timber, fish, and fuels is increasingly exceeding the Earths regenerating capacity. [Myers, 2009 p. 378-379]. My point is this, with the present consumption of resources by our, wasteful habits and devastating harvesting techniques, coupled with the destined growth of population, further pollution, global warming, and environmental destruction, seem inevitable unless there is change. For the average American who lives with luxuries unknown by even royalty just a century ago, our lifestyle of unrestrained, unbridled, ever wanting more consumerism will be brought to a screeching halt unless there is change. Lets face it our wasteful lifestyles cannot continue forever. For beyond the sunny skies of comfort and convenience. Dark clouds of environmental disaster at gathering. Sciences have accredited this coming ecological, environmental disaster to increasing population and increasing consumption. [Myers, 2009 p377]. I come to this conclusion; due to my observations of the wasteful practices I see around me every day of my life here in the United States I offer this small yet effective illustration of the environmental conservation. In Australia where I was raised, we grew up with tank water. Where you rely on the rain to fill a tank that is used for your drinking water, bathing, and bathroom uses etc. Under these conditions you learn to conserve and not waste water in every way possible. One of the ways I taught my children to conserve water was not to leave the tap running when they were brushing their teeth. They were instructed to turn the tap on to wet the brush, then turn the tap off while they apply the toothpaste to the brush and brush their teeth. After they had brush their teeth, they could then turn the tap on to rinse out their mouth and clean their toothbrush. Idiosyncratic? Not really. Just letting my children learn not to waste water and to appreciate the God-given resources we have available to us.

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