Tricks of the Trade – 3

Social change marketing

See Part 1 of this article See Part 2 of this article  Some people describe themselves as “commitment-phobic”. Others rush headlong toward commitment as if their life depended on it. What’s curious in human behaviour is – irrespective of how we feel about commitment in personal relationships – when an individual (even better a group) commits to a small request it almost always invariably leads to the likelihood of them agreeing to something bigger and better. Get someone to sign a petition and you’ve got their love for life. That’s the theory anyway. As McKenzie-Mohr & Smith outline in their… read more

Tricks of the Trade – 2

Social change marketing

See Part 1 of this article “Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex than our subsequent explanations of them.” (Fyodor Dostoevsky) Ever wondered why people litter? Ever wondered why people buy pre-packaged microwave meals? Ever wondered why people buy oversized fuel-guzzling SUVs?  Chances are you’ve had a hunch or two as to why people do the weird things they do. When it comes to developing public programs for social change, however, gut feelings are not quite enough. This is not least because human beings are infinitely more complex than we often give… read more

Tricks of the Trade – 1

Social change marketing

For a few years now, “community-based social marketing” has been a buzz phrase for behaviour change programs.  Espoused by Doug McKenzie-Mohr and Will Smith (1999) in their book Fostering Sustainable Behaviour, community-based social marketing offers tools to help environmentalists to appeal to large segments of the population. The goal is to deliver programs that remove the barriers and enhance the benefits for widespread social change. Social change campaigns are therefore underpinned by a clear identification of the barriers to behaviour change (eg. people who do not grow food in their backyards may perceive it to be hard work and expensive)…. read more

Looking Forward

President Obama and the Environment

Now that the election is over and a candidate has been selected, it is time to begin looking forward at what kind of second term president Barack Obama is going to be, especially regarding the environment and climate change. Over the course of the campaign, President Obama dodged questions about the environment and was vague in those he did answer, but there was mention of a “warming planet” during his acceptance speech, amidst the plethora of other issues a president must concern themselves with. He made an effort to tell the American public he will be concerned about climate change… read more

Conserving Rainwater

Conserving rainwater

Legend says that over two thirds of our earth is covered with water. But the sad part is that most of it is spread out as saline sea water. Only 3 percent of this huge volume comprises of domestically usable water. Further, this percentage shrinks to less than 1 percent when we talk about drinkable fresh water; that too locked in the ice caps. In the Middle East, over a dozen countries face problem of unavailable drinking water. In several Asian countries, unavailability of treated water forces the rural women to travel several miles every day and accumulate usable water… read more

Warfare Threats

Chemical and biological warfare

The utilisation of harmful chemicals as a weapon in combat was banned by the international community through the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling, and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Chemical Weapons Convention) of 1997. The secretary general of the United Nations Dr Ban Ki-moon made a press statement wherein he emphatically discouraged Syria from using biological warfare against anti-government insurgents. The secretary general intimated that there would be dire consequences for Syria if it did not heed the call to refrain from using biological warfare, because chemical weapons have no place in the… read more

NASA Nailed It

Effects of Hurricane Sandy

Six years ago, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York warned the city of the vulnerability to hurricane impacts in a changing climate. It was calculated that with a 1.5 foot rise in sea levels, a worst-case-scenario Category 3 hurricane could submerge the vast majority of the city, including “the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge.” These findings came on the heels of the release of… read more

Barriers to Change

Educating environmental change

Everyone recycles, right? Everyone saves water. Everyone catches public transport. Everyone grows their own food and buys their clothes and furniture from second-hand stores. Everyone is doing sustainability. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone was. Alas…everyone isn’t. Something separates the doers from the don’ts.  What inspires some people doesn’t inspire others. And where some people find open doors to change, others find barriers. So what is it that differentiates people who adopt sustainable behaviours from those who don’t? There are countless ways to answer that question, many different frameworks and theories for explaining human behaviour. According to Doug McKenzie-Mohr and… read more

Questions Raised By Sandy

Devastation of Hurricane Sandy

Obviously, Hurricane Sandy has, and continues, to wreak havoc on the eastern U.S. coastline, and it cannot be denied it is a big storm. Climate scientists, along with hurricane researchers, in their endeavors to learn more about the relationship between climate and hurricanes, have begun to ask critical questions about the impact of climate change. The first step though has been to acknowledge whether climate change has an impact on the size of the storm, or if it was just a naturally occurring large storm. The science is still out on that question (apparently), but there are scientists who have… read more

Government Indifference

chemicals-in-ocean

Government institutions are meant to be at the forefront in the fight to protect the environment from attack. This means that government is expected to at least refrain from activity which would be seen and proven to have adverse effects on environmental media. When government fails to do so, this constitutes a grave injustice. A prime example is a situation that has ensued in the United States. A host of environmental groups in the United States have filed a lawsuit against the government asserting that it has failed to regulate military drills involving the sinking of old ships in the… read more