Earth hour

earth hour


Here is a post made by a young (20 yrs) facebook- friend about Earth Hour. One of his friend commented that he instead had gone to his car and had it on for an hours and just sat in the car for the hour with his friends, and then they went on to talk about the global warming, how it does not exist. However, I can’t think of a better example how “too much talk” for “nothing” makes people have counterattacks. This is a reaction either to having too much fuzz about it, but everyone seeing that nothing is done or can be done. Or to guilt as posted before.”What can I really do?”.

The point that it was posted by a youngster (a university student presently in the army) tells also a lot. “Don’t give a dam” is also a statement. So if you ask him and his friends mindful consuming is already ‘passe’.

A comment to Jukkas comment on my last post about ethical work and how that is being used by business to pay less and get people work more. Isn’t this how all the third sector organizations have been working, that has been the one’s bringing in the green talk to the arena? They pay little if any for devoted people. I think what Jukka’s point was that some are ready to cut on their living standard to do good, while the majority of people are not (and should not be entitled to either).

However the notion that good life can be promoted by the corporate world too, I guess instead of pushing more consumption, is interesting. One problem though is that this kind of marketing might not be “believable” anymore since the new customers are well trained to think that corporations are just doing things to sell more. An counter reactions might co up. Such as my facebook-friend.

  1. When I read the first paragraph of your post, I had this immediate strong negative emotional response that I get when people behave in the way you describe. In my experience, this kind of behaviour is often just meant as a provocation of “generally accepted” opinions or the society as a whole. Denying global warming in a European environment, for instance, almost seems like the attempt to be a rebel (or to at least look like one), to stand up against the establishment, like a modern-day punk. If this were the end of the story, we wouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    But sometimes the reasons are different. My old flatmate in Switzerland, for example, made it a point to use as much energy as possible, as “a statement to demonstrate the need for new nuclear power plants”. I am not sure if he was actually serious about this, knowing about my green attitude he probably just wanted to provoke me. And succeed he did not, apart from provoking me, as the Swiss government has decided to phase out nuclear energy after Fukushima.
    But the issue remains: Why do people deliberately choose to act in a “wrong” way? Convenience? Or anti-authoritarianism? The latter is linked to what you, Eeva, described when you were talking about too much fuzz being made. Some people are just sick of being told what is the right thing to do and what not, so they protest by not doing it.
    Maybe these people are just a minority today (I would think), but the more the issue of sustainability becomes important on the political agenda, the more legislation and regulation will be required to achieve these goals, spurring more and more counter reactions in the population. At some point, this issue will have to be dealt with or it could become a serious inhibitor of change.

  2. angelinakt said:

    Eeva, what you are describing can be explained as reactance (negative reactions when suspecting that you’re being manipulated), or it could also be one type of emotional management strategy. When people feel overwhelmed, scared, or helpless they tend to apply emotional management strategies to deal with these emotions. We will discuss it in more detail in the upcoming lecture on Mon. If you want to know more about these strategies you can also check out a study by Norgaard (2006) called “People want to protect themselves a little bit”.. You can find it here:

  3. sarrikukkonen said:

    I had a little aha!-moment reading Norgaards article. Yes, the (collective) distancing makes perfect sense and helps me to understand why I see some smart people behave in strange ways, regarding to sustainability issues etc. Many times it is not just a social nonparticipation or inability to turn identified concerns into action – which I can witness also in myself – but maybe just that need “to protect oneself a little bit” Norgaard identified in the study. For one, there are so many causes and things that would need changing that one simply does not have time and energy to actively start working to improve all of them. Things may also seem too big to tackle. There are too many, where to draw the line?

    Also if you really stop and think about all the negative things reported every time you watch the news or read the newspaper, the feelings of “helplessness, guilt, threat to sense of identity and fear of losing ontological security” really are looming to take over like a tsunami. In such environment selective attention is a very commonsensical emotional management strategy to adopt. Understanding a little bit more about the possible causes behind the avoidance and denial behavior makes them more human.

  4. eevaja said:

    Thanks for great comments on my post. It brought us up to the next lessons topic I realize. I was not able to attend the lecture on monday, but checked the slides and Norgaards article. I really liked the definitions she brings in.

    I just read an newspaper article in the local paper called Vantaan Sanomat (23.3.) where the envirionmental chief of Vantaa education department (the first such post in Finland) Teea Markkula was interviewed. She told abut how the kids are trained at school and daycares to think environmentally and to do thigs about it. Her biggest problem was the attitude of the teachers that say that “what can one persons deed do about it?”. She tought that teaching kids to recycle and swiths off light (for example) will help also to change the parents attitudes about them. That is true in some measure. I have even met such parents that tell me that they strated to recycle their waste after the kids demanded it. Plus the schools had saved a lot of money in electricity by turning off light from places that were not in use. The Schools were even given some of this savings back to use for other needs they had,which was much appreaciated and brough in a finacial benefit to them.

    All this is great. But still helplessness of not being able to change the whole worlds issues, like global warming, still remain. The collective denial- concept truly is a good concept to describe the issue. There are like Sarri said many other things too that pile up and bring worry and distress to todays people. The amount of infromation is growing and we can if we want to, be updated about all the problems, wars, hunger, social problems and dilemmas in the whole world at any given time of the day seven days a week. Since no human is able to carry such a load, and therefore it explains how we have made strategies of coping with it like distancing onself from it.

    So who is the one who should make these collective big decisions that can change the world? Governments, corporations or us lilttle humans? Well we all know that all of them, but we all suffer from the same syndrom (for different reasons) of this collective denial. However I like the approach of this course of not just teaching us the trics of green washing, but making us look at things critically and seeing how we as marketers or designers can try to make some difference, but how come it is not easy. We all are humans as Sarri said.

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