Do people in the UK care enough about global deforestation?

February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Global deforestation

We know deforestation occurs every day. We know the forests are being cleared for products we regularly consume. We know that the damage is irreversible. So why then is there a sense of business as usual? I mean isn’t climate change and its causes supposed to be the most challenging, globally threatening event humanity has been faced with?

The latest study into British social attitudes on environmental issues found that the public concern about the threat caused by different kinds of environmental pollution has declined in the last decade.

  • 37% now think that environmental threats claims are exaggerated, up from 24% in 2000.

However when targeted domestically, we are highly concerned.

  • 92% said it was fairly or very important for them to have public gardens, parks and other green spaces nearby.
  • 78% agreed that they are worried about changes to the countryside in the UK and loss of native plants and animals.

There is an obvious disparity between global and domestic issues when essentially they are the same thing.


Implication and Perspective Barriers

Literal urgency combined with the lack of physical action could be the reason our global concern has dipped in the past years. After 25 years of preaching urgent need for sustainable development – still we wait for concrete progress. The public is more worried about terrorism, health and the economy. Despite that fact that deforestation and fossil fuelled economies all contribute to the funding of extremist groups, an inability to adapt to disease and our spluttering fossil based growth. This highlights a lack of understanding that a sustainable future characterised by halting deforestation and destruction of natural habitats, moving away from fossil fuels and living within the capacity of our world; is an answer to our problems. It may well be the answer.

The first reason we don’t care enough is the lack of understanding about the implications of deforestation (31% of us have never even heard of biodiversity).


The Psychology of Deforestation

The second reason is a psychological one. Since acting on deforestation is about changing global and individual behaviours it is as much in mind and habit as anything else.

  • Remote risk: We are not in contact with the loss of rainforest, natural habitats and species. Most of the adverse effects of deforestation occur in the future and in geographically remote areas. The average western punter just isn’t in direct contact with risk and therefore does not perceive it as an issue to immediately act on. Perhaps why our domestic care is so apparent.
  • Attachment: Attachment to the way things are, a reluctance to change. We are dependent on products such as beef where 60% of cleared Amazonian rainforest is used to rear cattle.
  • Helplessness: Perceiving the problems as too big to have an impact on and therefore chose to do nothing.
  • Lack of clear choice/accessibility to action: Where can I channel my desire to help the environment? What can I do which will have the most impact? If one person isn’t enough, how can I empower others?


Awareness and Empowerment

It is likely that we can break down the issues of remote risk and attachment with high levels of awareness and education on deforestation. But once this is achieved, people need to be empowered. Empowered to have an influence on the health of the rainforest, not just through donation but by building an avalanche of action where individuals can act in unity. Because we care so much about our domestic environment, using this as a channel to widen our care to a global scale could be highly important.

One part of the solution
This is where Bloomtrigger can help. It empowers people to take control of the rainforests future by using ‘blooms’. These ‘blooms’ can be planted to directly protect part of the rainforest, be sent to others to plant or be invested in schools for children to plant. One bloom costs 50p making it incredibly affordable and scalable. Donating your blooms will support our children’s education and engage them in an issue that will have a major impact by the time they grow up. It’s never been so simple for you to make a difference. Plant and send a bloom to start your own avalanche of action. www.bloomtrigger.com

By Dan Sturgess

References
The British Social Attitudes survey: NatCen Social Research
http://www.defra.gov.uk/statistics/files/Statistical-Release-13-April-2011-biodiversity1.pdf

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