Environmentalism And Morality

NASA GOES-12 Full Disk view March 30, 2010

I’ve always wondered why every person wasn’t an environmentalist in some form or another. Perhaps consistent political ideology took precedent over seemingly obvious truths.

One truth is that we all should have a unified stake in the well-being of Earth–the only planet we know that we can realistically inhabit.

Another truth is one of Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of physics: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In layperson’s terms, there are consequences, and just because you don’t see those consequences doesn’t mean they didn’t happen or affect others.

Why do some people understand and comprehend these ideas more easily than others? Or care?

Matthew Feinberg and Robb Willer recently published a paper in Psychological Science that dealt with reasons why liberals seemed more likely to be environmentalists than conservatives, or more importantly, how to frame environmental issues to conservatives.

The answer?

Arguments framed in terms of purity and sanctity of the environment worked much better on conservatives.

Liberals identified more easily with arguments for “moral obligations of environmental stewardship.”

In the end, what matters most to me is the message of environmental stewardship; everyone has a part to play in making sure that natural environment is preserved and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Communication is essential. Sometimes how you present your message is as important as the message itself.

UPDATE: Fixed some grammatical errors after some fresh perspective.

[photo via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/flickr]

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