Prompt: How do environmental issues register differently in different cultures?
The short stories we read in class this week shared a common theme: cultural differences affect the way people solve problems. There are a plethora of variables that prevent solutions from universality, especially solutions related to the environment. This is to be expected; how can an environment in the Appalachian Mountains be the exact same as an environment within the Andes or one in the Himalayas? While one might be tempted to apply the same methods that work in one culture or environment to any other that is similar, there are often several roadblocks, including but not limited to: financial and material resources, local regulations, geographical constraints, moral objections, and even comprehension of the solution.
Westerners, in particular, love trying to impose their methods upon the international community. However, while not always helpful, their effort is important. Research has shown that environmentally friendly attitudes and behaviors have primarily developed in societies that emphasize the individual rather than the collective. Individualistic societies are prone to people taking action on their own, while team-first attitudes have suffered from social loafing. As a result, individualistic societies, which are most often found in Western countries, are the ones producing solutions for the rest of the world, even though the advancements they have made in their own countries far outpace less developed nations. Keeping this in mind, it is necessary that they transfer their spirit but not their solutions, because experience has shown that the best local solutions are the ones that are understood by the people who are affected the most.
Kim, Heejung S., David K. Sherman, and Keiko Ishii. “Motivating Eco-Friendly Behaviors Depends on Cultural Values.” Association for Psychological Science. N.p., 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 03 Feb. 2017. <http://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/motivating-eco-friendly-behaviors-depends-on-cultural-values.html#.WJUq8LYrI9c>.